I am a master processor. Probably something like a Pentium Processor 4000; I could be the model for that. Information, ideas, inspiration, emotions, problems, recipes, patterns, symbols – I process them all, and usually pretty well.
But sometimes I get overstimulated. Which usually means I watch reruns of TV shows, re-read books, journal, be irritable, and overwear my pajamas.
For years, I didn’t recognize what was happening. I thought that maybe I just went through some sort of unchartable cycle of ultra busyness and ultra laziness. Like a cat. Or a puppy. And it really bothered me. I felt like I should always be able to maintain a steady level of productivity from one day to the next.
(Except that nothing in nature really does that).
I have a lot of highly sensitive clients who ask me if it’s okay when they take a break. They ask if they’re “doing it wrong” when they press the pause button for an afternoon. If they “shouldn’t have” when they chose present-time pleasure over future happiness one night out of 60. As if they’re afraid that by doing it somehow puts a black mark by their idea of Who They Are. There seems to be a lurking fear that someone is watching who will disapprove. That if you make waves that aren’t consistent someone will come by with a measuring tape.
To that I say, “Stop. Just stop.”
Yoga philosophy provides a dualistic lens through which to view the world. It says that there are always two things (usually in paradox to each other). It says that we are formless, limitless spiritual beings infused with confidence and bliss, AND a human in a body with emotions, beliefs, preferences and talents. It says that we are responsible for our thoughts and our actions AND that they don’t define us because part of us is undefinable. It says that this part of us that is formless, purusha, doesn’t change but that everything else, all the things with form, prakriti, do change. And we are both.
The most common cause of our suffering as humans is that we confuse things that change, prakriti, with the part of us that doesn’t change, purusha. When we do this, we suffer. If I identify myself with my energy levels and my ability to be productive, all things that shift and change over the course of hours, days and years, I will end up unhappy, because changeable things can’t ever bring us joy if we expect them to be static. As my teacher so eloquently puts it,
“I love my car. But if I identify myself with my car and it crashes, I’m screwed.”
(He used stronger words than that. I like him).
I spent the 2014 holidays with my family in Utah. It was both extremely enjoyable and utterly intense. Relaxing and stimulating. Fun and terrifying. It was often both of those things at once. Everyone was sick, and as I looked at my schedule fill up for this week, I worried about keeping my vibration high enough and my body healthy enough to keep it at bay. One of my parents has a tendency to think that everything is a problem, from a product delivery that’s two weeks late to the store being out of cajun sauce, and kept the whole family on edge. New car = exciting. Freak out over cajun sauce = stressful. All at once.
As a good little processor, I’m always processing the information around me, unless I’m consciously not doing that, which is what I teach other people to do. But oh, how challenging family can be. The famous person who said, “If you think you’re evolved, try spending a week with your family,” was really onto something. With my upcoming wedding, I was processing how comfortable my fiancee was with my family and vice versa, my parents marriage, my previous marriage, how to best communicate with everyone, how my business is growing and how to keep everything updated, and how to stay on my SIBO diet all the while. It was exhausting. (Except when we skied deep powder. Then it all went away).
I spent the next 10 days rotating between sweats, ski gear and pajamas.
When I got back to Seattle, I had really high hopes of a productive weekend to get me on the straight and narrow back to the work week. Instead, I unpacked, then ended up staying in my pajamas and watching nine hours of Grey’s Anatomy reruns while I knitted most of sweater. Oh, and arguing with my fiancee.
When I finally realized that’s what I was, that I was still processing, then I just let myself have my process. I have tools for dealing with excess energy and stimulation, but sometimes even I need a break from tools (gasp!). I need to decompress in a seemingly non-productive way for a bit. Kind of like letting some air out of the tires to give myself more traction, to make me ready to use my tools. Even in my healer community, there still seems to be this prevalent idea that if you have to the tools to heal something, you absolutely have to use them. You must be healing all the time. You must always use your tools. Sometimes, that seems like another way of saying you always need to be productive. So maybe I’m a bit of a rebel for a while, until I’ve gained enough traction to feel like my tools are accessible again. And what allows me to do this is that I gave myself permission to do what I needed to do in order to process all the extra energy in my system. A younger version of me would probably have called me fat or lazy, but I didn’t. I gave myself what I needed without it having to define me.
I give energy work and intuitive readings for a living. I interpret and process symbols, metaphors, and past traumas. I provide clarity for others. And for that I’ve been called a hippie, a fake, “New Age,” esoteric. But those words don’t define me. Those activities don’t define me.
I also like frivolous TV shows like Grey’s, watching movies, knitting, make-up, dressing up, dancing, skiing, the outdoors and ceramic mugs. I value science AND spirituality. I use my analytical mind, emotions AND intuition to make decisions, depending on what it is. What carbon emissions I save while driving my Prius I make up ten fold by flying to distant locations. I’m super competent in my work AND sometimes I spend a whole weekend in my pajamas drinking coffee and eating popcorn.
Those are all things that I do. I’m responsible for them. Most importantly, I’m okay with them. I’m okay with the fact that I get overstimulated and need comfort. I’m okay with the fact that I find comfort in non-new agey things. I’m okay with the fact that I try really hard to stick to my SIBO diet and then eat a whole basket of chips after a long ski day because I’m exhausted and hungry. Because none of those things define who I AM. They make up my experience, relate to my levels of suffering or happiness, but they don’t define who I am at my core.
I tend to get overstimulated sometimes, and I have my own way of handling it that is okay with me. What is yours?