On our first evening in the Amazon Rainforest, we went for a walk – a very short distance – yet it took us at least an hour because of all of the flora and fauna to notice.
One of the very first creatures pointed out to us was a green snake, hanging in a tree about a metre off the path.
The guide casually said, “That’s a two striped forest pitviper*. Highly venomous so respect the distance. And over here we have . . . ” He was so relaxed about it. The rest of us, not so much.
*At least that's what I think it was. It was green and it was venomous.
Over the next few days, we were introduced to many other creatures, both dangerous and not, as well as facts, folklore, and personal stories. By the end of the three days, we were all more comfortable with the Rainforest’s deadly creatures.
Information reduces fear. Usually. But what can you do if your brain is built to experience fear, making fear a large part of your life? I remember Dr. Temple Grandin saying fear is her base emotion.
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'
Right now I am trying to be in a place of calm, a place where I can chill out and then handle the chaos of life better. You don't just get it overnight; you have to work at it. It's a daily struggle. Jackee Harry
Sometimes I wish that I could go into a time machine right now and just look at my self and say, 'Calm down. Things are gonna be fine. Things are gonna be all great. Just relax.'
Today’s action ideas are based on the intentional pairing of excitement and/or exertion with mindfulness and calm. The result we are going for is better control of our bodies and our minds.
1. Begin by practicing ‘box breathing’. To box breathe, visualize a square. As you inhale, picture a dot moving along one side of the square and mentally count the time. Then hold your breath while moving along the next side, repeating the same count. The next side indicates exhalation, following the same count pattern. Finally, complete the box while holding the exhale. Repeat.
If holding the inhale and exhale are difficult, start with the rectangle and work up to a box. Also, work your way towards either slowing the count or increasing the number.
2. After the basics of box breathing has been learned, find situations of controlled intensity to pair with the box breathing. There is a two-part goal: to become more aware of physical/emotional states, and to have a coping strategy when needed.
A) After physical exertion, such as going up stairs or playing at recess, that leaves you somewhat winded, do box breathing. Even doing one round is useful, both to start the psychological pairing and to take the time to become more aware of what’s happening physically.
b) To help with transition time, such as settling for class or for bed, when you might still be hyped up from an evening activity.
c) In the car, after an unpleasant/overwhelming/overtiring/exciting event, as a transition into quieter car time.
d) After any emotional event-sharing, even a positive event.
e) After gaming or watching an exciting movie. Remember some people’s bodies take a long time to calm. For many, by the end of the movie, there is already a tendency towards equilibrium. Others are still inside the movie’s or game’s excitement.
This isn’t about pairing an undesirable event with breathing. It is about learning to listen to your body and choosing to have an impact on it.
3. Need a bit more calming? Check out our relaxing weighted vests, our 10 lb uniblanket and 15 and 20 lb weighted blankets.
Have an exciting and calm week.
Providing calmness & comfort, learning & laughter,
P.S. Box breathing is a form of mindfulness. I struggle when I try to meditate, so have tried many things to increase my likelihood of mindful success
Although probably not considered true meditation, guided meditation is easier for me. My next step is to include a short box breathing intro (2 minutes?). Baby steps seem to work the best for me.
Do you meditate? If you do, what style do you do? How long did you do it before you were convinced it was worth your time (If it was after a single attempt of meditation, we have nothing in common. Are we even from the same planet?)? Have you taught another sensory-sensitive person meditation? Any other meditation tips? Or any tips specifically towards teaching a sensory person to become more mindful? Thanks for any help or info you can share.