Two weeks ago we hiked through a pine forest and burst out at this long, empty beach. The sun was shining for the first time in about 83 days and, thinking about how I’d been grieving summer for weeks, and acting so quickly that I couldn’t talk myself out of it, I shucked off my welly boots, peeled off my socks, pushed off my puffa jacket and wriggled out of my jeans and jumper. I careered into the sea, pale wintery limbs and boobs awaving, and dove under a wave. I sprang to my feet as Tim and Ramona ran in, both butt naked too.
I don’t know what they were doing, for, in hindsight, I can see that for me it was all a very clear and measured part of my Endorphin Experiment! Doing what I love, living well in my body, following urges. And what an endorphin buzz! And the glee stayed for hours!
Yikes! Week Six of the Endorphin Experiment – skipped a few weeks there! I have still been doing my experiment though, so I’ve lots to catch you up on.
Firstly, this has been a costly experiment… I went overdue TWO TIMES with The Endorphin Effect and now owe $4.30 to the library.
But, guess what, I didn’t stress out about those four buckeroonies!! Nope, no worries, I just tapped into my endorphins and felt good immediately.
Okay, I can’t tap into my endorphins immediately, instantly, on demand just yet. Not every time. But there have been at least 8 experiences over the last 4 weeks that would have unleashed a wave of cortisol or other stress hormones over me that I was able to prevent using the techniques.
I am going to try to get across concepts that are written about in The Endorphin Effect in exhaustive detail, including ancient Eastern spirituality and medicine, as well as biochemical research… so be gracious as I go ahead and cover them in five paragraphs! ha.
Strawberries is the shortcut William Bloom uses to talk about those things that fill us with delight – it’s based on a parable he tells in the book. It might be memories of amazing days, thoughts of people, works of art, the smell of the ocean. I wrote a list of my strawberries in Week One and my ongoing job is to be able to recall the feeling my strawberries bring me at the clicks of a finger, and also, to build more strawberries into my life.
I have put pictures and poems up around our home and, genuinely, as I walk about the home my eyes catch these things and I tiny glimpse of feelgood begins – these days I stop, breathe and let that feel good wash over me, rather than stopping.
That thing I described in that last sentence is essentially the “Inner Smile” – it is taking a moment to stop, breathe, think about my strawberries, and imagine a smile beginning in my centre and unfolding to swallow my whole body.
I know. It sounds crackers but it works a treat. And if you are put off by the “Inner Smile” please don’t read further…lol of lols…
The Curled Deer is getting into a state of restfulness where all your body energy can flow. It is the other half of the Inner Smile, but perhaps more for those times when you feel unenergetic and in need of peace rather than glee.
Big New Concept and Task:
Bloom makes the case for doing big, colourful, intuitive dreaming when you are riding a wave of feelgoods. Doesn’t that make sense? We so often plan in a panic. The shit hits the fan and we go “ARGH RIGHT WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO” and we end up locked in a cycle of limited scope. Like, our baby has 3 bad nights in a row and we decide to stop night breastfeeding.
The alternative is to tap into our endorphins and then take some time to imagine the future as we want to see it.
I can *really* see this as being an important parenting tool.
I decided to give it a go with my relationship with my children.
I did strawberries and inner smile, waited till i could actually feel the bubble of delight begin in my stomach and fizz out over my body, and then began imagining my life with Ramona and Juno.
I imagined our mornings as peaceful and our interactions as respectful. I imagined some of the normal points of tension in our day, but envisioned them as easy and joyous. I imagined in detail, full colour, followed where my mind wanted to go.
This kind of dreaming can be applied to any area of work or home or relationships.
It is natural to move on from the dream and take some practical steps towards the fulfillment of the dream, say, speaking to someone to be a mentor or getting a relevant book out. For my one, I decided I would wake up every morning and give my children a loved up smile. So basic, but it is a big deal for me because my body’s natural wake up time is about 9am (harhahahahaha) and digging deep to find an Actual Face Smile each morning has been pretty transformative.
So I’ve been really tucking into my strawberries and have given myself permission for full, visceral joy, and I’ve been inner smiling and unboundaried dreaming left, right and centre for several weeks now and I can’t tell you which one of those things is paying off, but I have certainly had some of the most peaceful and contended weeks of my life.
(We also got wifi at home during this time so it *could* be that. I jest, I jest!!)
Now, it would be easy to say all this inner smile and unboundaried stuff is free (well, apart form library fines) so therefore accessible to anyone… but I think that would be a naively privileged perspective. For, if you are crushed under bills and only a hairbreadth away from trouble, where do you find the headspace for this stuff? I would love to examine this more, and would love to hear your perspectives.
I’ve got a final installment of big picture endorphin/ parenting thoughts coming so keep your eyes peeled next week!
I have heard from some of you that you have gone out and bought The Endorphin Effect -I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on it.
Also – here is my latest Youtube, vaguely related through the concept of Mum Guilt! This is about Stay At Home Vs Go To Work Mamas….