I had a conversation recently with a friend who was agitated and highly distressed about the current political situation in the U.S. As I listened to them, I found myself wondering if they were aware of the qualities they were radiating into themselves and into the environment around them because of the intensity of their agitation. This got me to thinking about the power and importance of cultivating an awareness of the frequencies with which we resonate from moment to moment.
One of the practices I follow as best I can is to notice the tone and quality of my internal state and how that translates into what energy and qualities I radiate into myself and my environment. This doesn’t mean ignoring distress. If I feel grief and need to actively allow it to process and move through me, or if I feel outrage and need to act on behalf of what I want to support, that’s important too and can happen without generating additional activation.
That said, because I believe that we are all part of one consciousness, I feel that we affect one another in every moment, simply by the qualities inherent in our internal experience. What I have found over time is that it’s possible to develop a habit of being able to catch activated energies and qualities and choose to shift them through breathing, imagery, sound, movement—through whatever allows me to orient myself to qualities and frequencies that feel more positive.
One of the exercises I often shared when I taught Somatic Experiencing was about “adding logs to the fire.” The practice has to do with noticing how we amplify activation, be it fear, anxiety, rage, helplessness—whatever the particular quality of our activation. We “add logs” in a variety of ways:
- We might have a reaction that says, “I don’t want to feel this!” That’s more activation. It implies that we may need to practice allowing feelings to arise, move through, and move on—that we can “ride the wave” when we don’t add resistance to the activation we’re already feeling.
- Another way to “add logs to the fire” is to constrict the body so that we are a bundle of tension. This also blocks the flow of the feeling and doesn’t allow it to move on through. Constricting is something we do automatically and spontaneously, so the key here is to notice the constriction so you have a choice as to whether to intensify it or invite it to soften.
- Yet another way we “add logs” is when we judge ourselves for feeling activated in the first place. Meeting ourself with compassion and self-acceptance is a powerful and constructive response to cultivate. (This is also an opportunity to notice that many thoughts represent activation rather than information…)
- We may also generate an internal dialogue and/or fantasy that engages and feeds the already-existing activation, allowing ourselves to add drama to our distress and thereby increase it. I use a word with this kind of process that doesn’t intend to be insulting, although it might sometimes be taken that way: indulgence. So many of us have been taught to indulge our inner dialogue and imagination and have learned to allow it to just have its way even when it adds to our discomfort. This is where just about any kind of mindfulness practice can be helpful. Awareness of what we are doing offers a moment of choice.
Whenever we feed overwhelm with our thoughts, feelings, physical responses, we add to what is already distressing. This can keep it from being able to move through and can also fill not only ourselves but our environment with an activated tone and quality.
Also, when we’re distressed, which we can’t avoid no matter how hard we may try to do so, we resonate with the same frequencies of distress that live in our collective consciousness. In this way, our distress is amplified by that in our human collective, which is one of the reasons why I feel it’s so important to become even more aware of the frequencies with which we resonate from moment to moment. We don’t do this consciously, but when there’s a lot of collective distress it can be even more challenging to shift our own mood.
This doesn’t mean never to get upset. Heaven knows that there are enough things in our current world to feel distressed about. What it does mean is to meet our upset with awareness and a willingness to “put an arm around” our distress and soothe it in whatever ways work best for us.
The other side of this coin is when we offer ourselves nourishing input, inspiring moments, whatever that may be for each of us. I find that each morning, as I look for the photograph to pair with the daily Devadana Sanctuary inspirational quotation, I am deeply touched by being able to go through photographs of our beautiful planet. I also “voo” each morning and also do color breathing, along with other practices that begin my day. I’ve talked about these in prior practices.
When we connect with positive frequencies, we also connect with these same frequencies as they live in our collective consciousness. Resonating with these kinds of frequencies supports our ability to settle ourselves and to return to whatever quality of equanimity or groundedness we may seek.
And, please keep in mind that recognizing that our energies, moods, and states affect the world around us and that we are affected by the ocean of collective consciousness in which we swim, doesn’t mean to criticize or judge ourselves when we’re upset. Upset comes with the territory of being human. The key here is to have some tools to deal with it when it does arise.
As with all these practices, there’s no right way to do this one. Instead, notice what works best for you. And, please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise, allowing them to move on through without your having to add anything to them.