Did you ever see the movie Benny and Joon?  There’s a scene where Joon gets totally overwhelmed by a chaotic situation, and she cowers on the ground, hands over her ears, wailing, “Too much, too loud, too much, too loud!”

I feel like that sometimes.  I bet you do too.

Sometimes it’s because some sort of drama has erupted in your life: nasty rumors, unnecessary rudeness, a fight with someone you love, or some sort of crisis.  Other times the normal but relentless inflow of emails, texts, phone calls, questions, and decisions can just seem utterly impossible to deal with.  Weirdly, even joyous events can tip us over into a panicky sense that too much is happening, too fast, too much, too loud.

I’m going to give you a little technique that can help you.

If you’re especially compassionate, or sensitive, or any form of an ’empath,’ you may find that you feel this way a lot, like you’re constantly getting flooded with intense and overwhelming sensations.  And if you have any history of pain (as in, you’re human), these sensations can sometimes make you feel very afraid, as if you’re not safe, even though your logical brain knows you’re not really in actual danger.

You might feel like your stomach is in knots, or like it’s difficult to breathe, or you might find yourself yelling or stuffing down half a birthday cake.

Oddly enough, these are all socially acceptable ways to deal with stress, much more acceptable than cowering and wailing.  But they’re very hard on your body, your nervous system, and your mascara.

Cowering and wailing has some definite merit to it; it’s a pretty organic response to overwhelm, and kids use it very effectively.

But it might have unintended consequences for you (those men in their damned white coats) so let me teach you a more subtle way.

First, you require privacy.  It’s lovely to do this outside or by a window, but privacy is essential.  So get yourself some, whether that’s in a bedroom, a bathroom stall, or the dressing room in Saks.  Curl in on yourself in whatever way you can, so that you’re as tightly furled and protected as you can get.  If you can actually curl up in the fetal position, great.  If not, just wrap your arms around yourself and tuck your head in.  Imagine yourself sinking down into the ground, like you’re a little seed, and you’re tucking yourself down into the earth.  Feel how quiet it is down there, how safe you are.  Close your eyes and feel that dark softness.  Imagine that your heart is beating more slowly, attuning itself to the heartbeat of the earth, slow and steady, quiet and loyal.  Pull deep, slow breaths into your lungs, and with each breath, pull into yourself a little bit of the earth’s strength, quiet, and fierce power.  When you feel quiet again, slowly let yourself begin to unfurl.  Slowly slow loosen your arms, like petals.  Let your spine curve gently up, like a dancer, until your face is tipped up to the sky or the ceiling.  Feel how your feet can stay rooted in the ground while the rest of you stretches up and open, receiving the light.  You may find yourself grinning.  You may just feel more peaceful and calm.

This might seem overly simple, but just try it.  It takes less than two minutes.  Our bodies are powerful, and when we align our imagination, our visual minds, and our breath with our bodies, it’s amazing how much we can shift.

And when you shift yourself, you just might find that the world responds to you differently.  In fact, I’d bet all my rrrrrich magnets on it.

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