I hope February, is a good start for the year for you. The weather seems to be as unpredictable as our feelings can sometimes be I’ve just returned from an amazing month away and want to share some of it with you… there were lots of lessons and learnings that came out of this particular trip and I will share these with you over a several blogs, and here goes with the first one…
Overwhelm and tension and self-awareness…
My reasons for travelling were two fold, to spend time with my son in Delhi and to do some voluntary work in Bhutan. My son Adam lives and works in New Delhi, India. He is a journalist and moved there at the end of July. I also have a colleague who invited me to go to Bhutan to do some voluntary work and the two seemed to fit nicely together so I formed a plan : ) and a great plan it was. I stayed in India for 12 days, then 10 days in Bhutan and a further 4 days in India, the breakdown was perfect and gave me, an HSP, time to get used to where I was, to learn how things worked in a different environment and had some amazing experiences!
Travelling gave me the luxury of time, to become even more aware of myself and others and to notice when my overwhelm kicked in and how to coach and manage myself.
I arrived in Delhi on Christmas Eve at 6.30am. The flight was fine, I had flown in via Helsinki and because of the cold snowy weather my time in Helsinki was slightly longer than planned. I came out of baggage collection in Delhi a bit bleary eyed and tired and was greeted by so many faces and so much colour and noise that I just didn’t know where to look. It was fascinating and I was also pinching myself to make sure I was really there, my body was but I have learned that it takes my mind a while to catch up, and it was probably still in Youlgrave packing my case
Now for those of you who have read Elaine Aran’s book ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’ you will know that there is a type of HSP who loves sensation, well that’s me, always up for a new experience, food, people, cultures, I love it… so here I am at Delhi airport and its amazingly fascinating and I just don’t know where to look next… the level of noise was incredible, the hooting of horns, shouting, loud conversation, and all the different faces, they all held my attention, different colours, some with turbans some without, the different coloured turbans, the bright sari’s.. it was amazing and amongst that sea of faces was a piece of cardboard with my name on it.. ‘Ali’ written in black ink, that was all it said and I don’t think I have ever been so happy to see my name written on a piece of cardboard ever before. What luxury, it was so wonderful to be collected, to be one of those people who have a name on a piece of cardboard… I usually fantasise about those names and wonder what it is like to be collected and not have the worry finding the train, or the bus, and here I was being one of those people, being collected and whisked away from so much sensory overload into the quiet car where I could watch and gasp… I watched from the safety of my bubble without the overwhelm.. and what struck me was this…
Because I love new sensations and things happening I am immersed and while I was immersed in the situation I wasn’t aware of any overwhelm or how that situation affected me, it was only in the car, as I allowed myself to sink into the back of the comfortable seat, that I felt my tiredness, the fog in my head and the tension in my body… funny what we learn isn’t it? I’m amazed that I didn’t know this before about myself… well in truth I didn’t ever check before, I was too busy taking everything in and going ‘wow this is amazing’ …. awareness is just so important, moment by moment, day by day…
Do you notice if this happens to you? Do you have moments where you are so wrapped up in what is happening on the outside that you don’t notice what is happening to you on the inside? Do you notice the tension that creeps up your back and into your shoulders, and how your head becomes tense and for me everything somehow goes into slow motion and I’m there but in another way I’m not there… does that happen to you? HSP‘s in particular have this happen to them, do you get swept up and then feel you have been spat out?
Things to do when you find yourself in this kind of situation:
In the Taxi I pulled my shoulders up as close as I could to my ears, it kind of scrunches your neck up too, and then let them drop sharply downwards, do this 3 times! It releases the tension and feels great.
Then pull your shoulders up again and this time take a big breath in, a big breath from down in your belly while you are pulling your shoulders up. As you let your shoulders down, breathe out through your mouth, slowly exhaling, blowing gently out until your lungs are empty… can you imagine a balloon slowly deflating as you do this, breathe every bit of air out and repeat, do this 2 times… On the 3rd time imagine that the breath is draining out of your head, so your head is relaxing, you may notice that your eyes gently close, you may notice that you actually feel the changes happening on the inside of your head, the relaxation, little popping noises, cracks… take your attention to where you feel the tension and let it go as you slowly exhale and blow gently out, exhale your tension, wow what a great exercise to do, I’m doing it as I write this and loving it. Repeat until your head feels different and you really feel more relaxed, calm, in control….
The next step is to drink water, as you let go of tension you are quite possibly also letting go of toxins, so drinking water will help to flush them away…
Now, check on the inside, be curious as to what’s happening. For me I suddenly realised how tired I was and began to run my own experience… instead of the amazing outside running me… I said to myself ‘everything will be there the next day, and the next’ and so on, I relaxed, enjoyed the journey and even closed my eyes. The letting go was wonderful, I was back in control and aware of what was happening to me…
So how many times do you let the outside determine what happens to you on the inside instead of the other way around? My challenge was to keep checking in with myself, all through the holiday, to see where I was on my overwhelm scale and when I realised I needed to take back control I just sat and did some shoulder shifts and breathing and it made such a difference. What about you, can you begin to check in with yourself, especially in situations that at some level you just love but also have the ability to overwhelm you?
Just to re-cap:
1. What’s happening on the inside, are you relaxed and peaceful? If not, move to step 2
2. Pull your shoulders upwards to your ears and let them drop sharply downwards. Repeat 3 times.
3. At the same time as lifting your shoulders towards your ears, take a deep breath in. Then exhale slowly blowing out through your mouth at the same time as your shoulders gently move downwards and keep them doing down as far as you can while you are exhaling. Imagine a balloon deflating in your minds eye.. Repeat this 2 times.
4. On the 3rd time imagine all the breathe draining out of your head as your slowly exhale through your mouth, feel your head relaxing, feel the tension being breathed out through your mouth slowly and easily, notice what you notice. Repeat until your head feels clear and comfortable. You could also imagine that the breathe leaving your head has a colour, once that particular colour has all drained away you could choose to fill up those spaces, in your head, with a different colour. Notice how good you feel once you have relaxed and feel so much more comfortable..
5. Drink lots of water
Until next time…
Have fun and release that tension that you didn’t know you had