Returning to Basic Goodness: Finding Peace in the Space Between the Chatter
Updated: Jan 14, 2021
There is so much stimulus surrounding us in the modern age. Smart phones, email, social media, YouTube, Netflix, television, busy work environments, barking dogs, traffic, shopping and the list goes on and on. Let’s not leave out the continuing loop of chatter that occurs between our ears that seems to never slow down and sometimes continues late into the night. Each time one of these stimuli occur whether it is external or internal, it is releasing chemicals such as dopamine and cortisol depending on how we perceive something. Typically, if we perceive it as being bad, cortisol resulting in stress can occur. This can result in an increased heart rate, shallow breathing, tension, upset stomach and other types of physical responses. This is an excellent response to a legitimate threat to our well-being, but this is usually not the case. We are often reacting to fixed negative perceptions that we have cognitively constructed over time that are not threatening our safety. If we perceive something as good or pleasurable, we often experience the opposite effects through feel good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. This process literally takes a split second and we are subject to these events and conditioned responses repeatedly throughout the day. Compound this with a poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of sleep and other factors and you have a recipe for disaster.
There is hope between the lines of the daily drama. What our minds perceive and the conditioned response we take is typically automatic if we are not watching out for them throughout our day. Between the moment to moment engagements of a busy day full of ups and downs is a calmness that has always been there. It is something we humans hardly ever experience but it is something we all share. It is an inner peace and quiet that is crystal clear and never ends. I like to call it freedom. As a therapist I have been privileged to learn about and work with Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and I have personally experienced and watched others gain tremendous improvements with their depression, stress and anxiety. Mindfulness works really well.
Basic goodness and peace between the chatter is rooted in meditation. It allows for us to consciously awaken to our perceptions, feelings and responses before we get caught in their snares. It begins a process of unpacking our thoughts and conditions allowing us to understand our thought patterns and create new pathways that are more peaceful and serene. It begins with breathing and observing and watching. Meditation requires practice and some basic instruction to begin. I will be writing more about this subject in the weeks to come and delving in to it to hopefully share some information about what I have learned. It’s important to take care of ourselves and to spend some time breathing quietly and observing the here and now. It gives us an opportunity to make better choices and to have better experiences that are more fulfilling.