Finding clarity in the dark mystery
The role of our nervous system
Many of us desire more clarity. This may manifest as a desire to have greater intuitive seeing and knowing or more direction and guidance in life. Sometimes we may feel confused, lost, or like we are walking blindly or directionless. We may plead or beg those “forces outside of us” to give us more clarity, direction, guidance or the answers we seek. This leaves us feeling like we are at the mercy or whim of life, often times holding our breath and hoping it all works along the way.
So how do we find clarity and guidance in what can feel like the dark mystery of life? How do we know while simultaneously not having a clue? The easiest, and least mysterious way, to gain clarity, direction, intuitiveness and guidance is by acknowledging what is and moving towards.
What does it mean to acknowledge what is and move towards? Let me back up. Remember when I said that most of the time we are holding our breath and hoping that things work out? This is true for most all of us. We tighten our muscles, clench our jaws, hold our breath, sometimes we attack ourselves or others, and ultimately we try to not really look at what is happening while hoping that things turn out a certain way that we deem as positive or good.
Why do we do this? We do this because we are bracing ourselves for the unknown. These visceral responses are part of the fight, flight or freeze responses that our nervous system responds too when there is perceived threat or danger. We feel that if we brace ourselves than perhaps the impact of whatever happens won’t be so great.
Acknowledging what is
Largely the reason why we feel cut off, disconnected or lost is because our nervous system is so busy processing and responding to our perceived threat of the unknown (aka the mystery of life). We perceive the unknown as dangerous or scary and therefore we lose access to the bigger whole that we are, which includes our sense of knowing and clarity.
Its kind of like being lost in a storm that our mind and biochemistry created and not being able to see anything outside of this small perspective that we are existing inside of. This is called defense physiology and it is a result of living in a defended and protected internal state. There is a posturing that comes along with this particular state of being which is called defense posture. In defense posture the head comes forward of the body and leads our life while the shoulders and chest draw inward protecting the heart from feeling too much, or sometimes from feeling anything at all. When we are in this state we are only accessing a limited portion of ourselves which is why we often feel lost, disconnected, unclear, uncertain and eventually frustrated and stuck. We lose touch with feeling and when we can’t feel its very hard to have any clarity in our direction, purpose or knowing. We simply do the stuff of life but don’t feel much connection to what we do.
In order to gain clarity, connection and inner knowing we must begin by acknowledging what is present instead of avoiding, managing, or protecting ourselves from it. When we begin to acknowledge what is we are bravely moving towards the unknown rather than retreating away from it. This is a bold step and it will feel unsettling in our body as our nervous system will still be running those patterns that say “this isn’t safe, protect, shutdown, protect, attack”. It is through our persistence and willingness to feel uncomfortable and move towards the unknown of what is, even with the fear response activated in our physiology, that we begin to “override” these fear based responses in our physiology.
We must experientially move through (not just think about in our heads), feel the discomfort of uncertainty, so that we can come through the other side having survived. Through this experiential process our nervous system lays down a new pathway. When we have acknowledged what is and have felt all of the scary stuff associated with it, only then do we have the knowing of exactly what to do and how to do it. The mystery reveals itself to us.
Dr. Amanda Hessel, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado