Last weekend, I spent two days studying sacred leadership in Portland. It’s a year-long program with Ravyn Stanfield and Suzanne Sterling (and this weekend, guest star Dawn Isadora), plus something close to 17 badasses from Texas to Seattle who are up for the work. This time, the theme of the weekend was embodiment, and we did all this cool stuff: how to find and listen to my real yes and no by locating them in my body. Also, how to manage the panic hormones that lurk in a fight or flight state. We learned so many techniques! Breathwork and doodling and shaking all over, all of which reset the nervous system so that, once again, thinking is possible. We did little role plays, acting out a trigger and trying the techniques. Breathwork is the most undercover, by the way. Shaking all over works really well, but is sort of conspicuous. However, it was excellent at changing the subject, in my role play at least. Suddenly we weren’t talking about the thing that triggered me, we were talking about why I am hurling my arms and legs around like I have a full-body case of snakes in my underwear.
That sounds kind of sexy actually.
I’m still dating, by the way… But back to embodiment. Wait… That is about embodiment…
Okay. I spent the weekend learning about how to manage my nervous system stress response.
And then I came home and tried to get my seven-year-old to eat breakfast and get dressed in time for school.
And forgot everything.
Man. There is nothing like being full-dial screamed at before my first cup of coffee –“I WON’T EAT BREAKFAST!! I WON’T EVER EVER EVER EAT BREAKFAST!!! – to destroy my frontal cortex and make me want to reconsider my position on corporal punishment, or at least (and this is my reptilian brain stem talking) let the little fucker starve.
We have been doing this every morning since he stopped liking the old breakfast options, which makes me think it’s my fault. Which makes me start to pant like a hot dog and makes my ears buzz and my vision narrow.
All surefire signs of being triggered and flooded with the “No good decision will come from this” hormones.
A good breathing exercise here would be to inhale to a count of 4, hold for 2, exhale to a count of 6, hold for 2. Repeat. And repeat.
It would be so much better to do that than to scream at my son “STOP SCREAMING AT ME!!”
This is everywhere of course. My friend Luckey says that I see everything in terms of power, and since she is a Scorpio, she must be right. (Right, my Scorpio pals?) But in this case, it’s just true. This is the ultimate power struggle: who gets to set the tone? Will violence and intimidation and reptile mind be in charge of our family, our staff meeting, our culture? Or will we manage the discourse so that everyone feels safe and can actually think?
And, having managed the tone, who gets to define the question? For example, not “Is there going to be breakfast?” But “What will our healthy, not-cooked-by-me, preparable-before-the-caffeine-has-fully-entered-my-system-breakfast be?”
Hmm. Okay. Sometimes exploring the question reveals that we are not actually setting ourselves up for success…By which I mean that I could be doing the breathwork equivalent of a Bach Symphony and still couldn’t answer that question, much less insist on civil discourse at the same time.
I look to Rhiannon, since her story is my guiding star these days. Anything? Bueller?
I inhale to a count of 4, hold for 2, exhale 6, hold 2. 6, 2, 4, 2.
In the end, I do not let the little fucker starve and I don’t exactly scream, but I do use the “strict voice” as I tell him to be kinder to me and that screaming hurts me.
We are not late for school, but I am totally flooded. This is not how I want to start my day.