Today I want to talk with you about love. Yes, that’s right, LOVE. Not the sappy stuff of teenaged radio songs, but the REAL THING that makes your heart relax and your breath deepen. Take a moment right now to think about someone you really love–some being that when you think of them, you can’t help but smile. As you bring them to mind, feel the feelings that arise, breathe deeply and let that energy circulate through your entire being….
You know, when we think about someone we love, or when we are in their presence, a powerful hormone called oxytocin is released into our blood stream. This is the bonding hormone and it makes our body feel relaxed, receptive and open. This is the state we want to generate when we do any practice. When we do self-care in a relaxed and spacious way, even if we only have 5 minutes, the effects will go deep.
Contrast this with bringing to mind a stressful person or situation. Pick one that even the thought of makes you hold your breathe and close down. Notice the feelings that arise when you focus on a stressful situation. What you’re feeling in this case is cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone and its effect puts us into” survival”or “fight or flight” mode. When we are in this mode, we have less access to the totality of ourselves. So, when we do our self-care as one more thing on the list, when we hurry to get through it and don’t take the time necessary to switch into rest and digest mode, our self-care loses much of its power.
OK, go ahead and generate the love again. Take your time, I’ll wait.
Most of us know what it feels like to be in survival mode, and the accompanying anxiety, racing thoughts and edginess that accompanies that. Most of us know, too that “survival” mode is no way to live. That doesn’t seem to stop many of us from living that way though does it. Somehow its not enough to know, we have to make a change in our behaviour.
So even if you have been living on survival mode for sometime, you can make a switch. Modern research shows us that it is NEVER too late to change (that’s called neuroplasticity) and change begins with doing something differently.
So here it is: when you go to bed 15 minutes earlier at night, as you are going to sleep, remember the love. Remember it until you can actually feel it coursing through your veins. Even one drop will do. When you hear your alarm go off in the morning, first thing, remember and generate that love. And as you are doing your morning hygiene, and drinking a glass of water, remember the love. And especially when you sit or lie for your practice, tune into that love. And even if its just a trickle—even if you can barely feel it that day—even if it seems faaaaar away— it is enough. And that trickle, one day will be a stream, and that stream one day will be what it takes to change everything.