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It is Saturday and this is a test of my fortitude and my ability to keep my promise to myself about writing for at least two hours every day, even Saturday and Sunday. Well I am going to keep part of my promise and that is I will write enough to post on my blog even on Saturday and Sunday but it may not be two hours of writing time.  I think because it is the weekend I will keep it light. Even though I have worked for my own companies for almost 2o years and therefore I am never really off work and more pleasurably never have to ask for time off, I still follow the traditional work week convention and enjoy my weekends and always give myself a bit more slack.

Being less hard on myself is a good topic for today. I don’t know about you but I set a pretty high standard for myself and have for most of the years that I have been on this planet. I know it is too high in that I would never expect this much for anyone else, staff or family and definitely not friends, I want them to be my friends after all. So you might wonder why I would set this expectation for myself. I do wonder about this myself and I have come up with countless reasons why this might be but that is not what I want to talk about right now. Instead I want to write about some recent changes in this situation.  It has only been in the last few years that I even realized that I was living within this impossible set of expectations. The journey to let myself off the hook for a few things has been pleasant and fascinating.

At one point about six or so years ago I had this fundamental realization that I was hyper vigilant about absolutely everything. It explained a lot about how I operated, what I expected of myself and how I reacted to my ability to keep up the pace. Somehow I was able to reduce the vigilance at least in some areas of my life and being. It felt nice. However, there was an unanticipated outcome. I experienced relaxation and truthfully this felt a bit weird. Now I am not saying that I had become fully relaxed; rather I had got a glimpse of it.  

I was aware of what it might feel like to be truly fully relaxed when I had had surgery on my thyroid gland several years back. My thyroid was, you guessed it-HYPER. My resting heart rate was 135 beats per minute and I felt like I was constantly vibrating and almost at the point of spinning out of existence. Before that happened I had my thyroid gland irradiated. Sounds strange and it was because part of the process was for me to wait until my thyroid gland stopped functioning altogether. At this point the doctor was able to determine how much synthetic stuff I would need to be on for the rest of my life. If I was having thyroid troubles now I would have taken a completely different path in dealing with it. But that was then and this is now and whatever. The point is that as my thyroid gland started shutting down I had this really strange feeling gradually come over me. I felt kind of calm, my body felt heavy (and it was as I gained 10 pounds in one week just lying there in bed), and I had this sense that everything was great, grand and wonderful, nothing phased me. It was weird! At this point I had this idea that this might be how people felt when they were relaxed and when someone like the massage therapist said relax your arm, this is what I was supposed to do and what it would feel like. Wow! I reveled in this new feeling, it was cool. I never did ask but in looking back probably my kids and husband thought they “had died and gone to heaven” having me in this state. It however did not last for a long time. Eventually I did start the medication and I returned to a more lively state although I often thought about and remembered that feeling of being relaxed and tried to recreate it whenever I could.

When I had made the changes that pulled me away from being hyper vigilant all the time and about everything and allowed more relaxed moments into my life it did take some getting used to. I found that I felt somewhat different than usual which I really noticed in my ability to sleep. I would sleep through the night, wake up in the morning and often curl back up into a restful sleep. This made me think I was more tired than I had been. At first I thought something must be wrong with me but then I realized that there was nothing wrong at all. What I was experiencing was a relaxed state. I wasn’t more tired I was just more clam and therefore I was sleeping better. Once I came to this realization I was happy. I am not sure whether I was missing anything as a result, some task left undone or whatever but no problems emerged so I just went with the feeling and enjoyed it.

Since that time I have had a few more opportunities to move further away from my former hyper vigilant state, each one bringing a new sense of calm. A more recent realization came through some teacher training in a new direction that I was engaged in. Starting in a new direction as a potential new career is not exactly the best way to relax but it seems like the right thing to do at this time. As part of this latest adventure I was able to analyze my postural stance, how did I carry my body in this world. This was a big eye-opener and has been another one of those fundamental shifts in being.

A huge discovery was that my “good” posture was actually rigid, tense and forced. I had been trying to achieve good posture through holding my body in a position that I felt was good posture and the operative word is “holding”. See how this fits with being hyper vigilant? Some examples of what I had been unnecessarily using my energy for included: head tilted up and back with chin pointing up; chest slightly extended forward; holding abs and sometimes my gluts tight; shoulders held back in a rigid position ; tendency to lean on right side both in standing and in sitting; clutching hands, tensing arm and leg muscles in an effort to maintain “good posture”

Uncovering this behaviour was huge! I have changed some of these things and continue to work on others and even with small adjustments I have once again encountered that unanticipated consequence, I am feeling more relaxed and I have more energy. Not trying so hard to “hold a good posture” has not made me into a slob and it has given me a further peek at the enviable world of the relaxed and tranquil soul. I am lovin it! Even though as my husband puts it “you are pretty relaxed for a hummingbird!” Oh well, I will keep on the path.

Irene McDermott © 2011