We are taught from childhood that one must always put others before ourselves otherwise we have been selfish. So most of us go through our lives giving, giving and giving; until we experience burnout. Nothing to give anymore. I remember my first trip on an airplane as a teenager and when the flight attendant took us through the safety procedures, I was shocked by the idea presented in the video that when the oxygen masks drop the mother should put it on herself first and then on her child. I could feel my judgements rising on the surface! Only a selfish mother would put herself first! A selfless mother protects her child always! A good mother always puts the child’s needs first! And so on!
Fast forward a couple of decades and now the mother in me realises how important it is to take care of my needs first so that I am available for my child and others. And as a counsellor, this is even more important as many counsellors experience burnout if they don’t look after themselves.
Self care is looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. It is filling your cup up with an activity that raises your energy levels and brings you into alignment with your centre. You can also refer to it as raising your inner vibration.
What is Vibration?
In physics, vibration is defined as ‘the oscillating, reciprocating, or other periodic motion of a rigid or elastic body or medium forced from a position or state of equilibrium’. In Spirituality, our “vibration” essentially refers to our energetic state. Our thoughts and beliefs, our physical health, and our emotions, all collectively contribute to the vibrational state of our energy field.
Our energy is most depleted when we go into a fight or flight response. Triggers can be our work mates, boss in particular; our loved ones and even our own selves (the voice in our head).
When we react to a situation or a person, it is because our brain has perceived a threat and our body is initiating the fight, flight or freeze response. A common scenario is work place conflict. Instead of throwing a spear at an animal that endangers us, we use anger to rise against the perceived threat. We might raise our voice or bang something very hard against the desk!
So what causes this ‘fight or flight’ response that leads to our reactive tendencies? If you look at the physiology/biochemistry of stress and burnout, the seat of this outcome is our reptilian brain that is an evolutionary response to stress. When a reptile experiences a dangerous situation it responds by going into a fight, flight or freeze response. This response helps the animal to survive. Fast forward the evolutionary chain to Mammalian brain and remember the deer or the impala being chased by a tiger; a vision many of us remember from the countless documentaries we watched as children! Remember the relief in our bodies when the deer survived! (Our mind and body experienced the same stress as the deer). Now what the documentaries don’t capture is the shaking and trembling response the deer experiences in its body. This shaking and trembling actually regulates the high level of energy that has been activated through its reptilian brain perceiving a dangerous situation. In other words the deer discharges the excess energy and eventually calms its body down physiologically and biochemically.
Going up the evolutionary chain, we reach the Human brain. Our brains have the gift of perceiving dangerous situation, however, do not have the ability of automatically shaking and trembling to release the excess energy. Human brains also contain the Cortex, the seat of consciousness, analysis, logic, awareness. While the cortex serves a very important role in that it allows us to think, it also stores our memories.
Real Threat vs. Perceived Threat
The gift of our reptilian brain (aka brain stem) has made our body really good at responding to threat. The problem is, sometimes what it senses as a threat isn’t really a threat, but it responds as though it is anyway. A common example is any conflict situation we encounter. Lets take the example of workplace conflict involving your boss and you. The fight response will show itself as a yelling match; your boss yells at you, you yell back. The flight response could be that you hear the boss’s anger and you quickly run away. You make sure you never make yourself visible around your boss, always running away. The freeze response may manifest as an inability to respond and you remain quiet, even when you are not to blame!
In each of these scenarios, the body is responding physiologically with elevated levels of stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol. These hormones are essentially involved in the fight or flight response. In our reptilian brothers and sisters, these hormones determined survival. Essentially, survival of the fittest would have meant those reptiles that activated the fight or flight response quickly, survived. In the example of work place conflict, there is no actual danger, and you are not actually running or fighting, there’s no way to burn off the neurochemical fuel that’s surging through you. It builds up and causes each one of the physical symptoms that come with anxiety. Over time as these chemicals accumulate in the body it leads to fatigue and burnout.
Whenever we are in a reactive mode or experiencing a reactive situation, our bodies automatically go into a fight or flight mode. Once you witness your reactive tendency, you can self regulate through mindfulness awareness and practices, however, it is important that you fill your cup up so you remain vibrationally aligned. This will help cultivate more peace of mind, more happiness, more clarity, and more overall wellness immediately.
As we approach the countdown to our deadlines, things tend to get rather busy, both in our minds and in our bodies. Depending on the state we are in, we get more affected by outside influences and like a sponge may tend to soak in negative energies. Against your best intentions, it is very likely that you will experience moments of frustration and stress. In each case, you may find that you lose touch with your grounding, your stillness, even your peace. In this space of contraction, how will you expand and rejuvenate?
My favourite practices of raising one's vibration include:
Think back to what has been instrumental in recharging you, allowing you to come into wholeness and well being after a stressful situation, and add it to the list.
I wish you a wonderful journey to coming into alignment with your centre!
© Transformative Holistic Counselling 2015
Tripty is a level 2 REIKI practitioner. She is currently offering 25% off when you book for 45 minute REIKI session. Offer available until June, 2016. May be combined with other Counselling Specials! Feel relaxed and calm after your session and take this calmness into your everyday life. Call now to book an appointment or contact her on her website: www.TransformativeHolisticCounselling.com