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Track Equanimity + Adjust Sooner in 2012

Posted on 01 January 2012

Peace. Stress hormones, particularly the queen of ‘em, cortisol, normalizes. Briefly. Not too high. Not too low. Tank full, even overflowing, and it’s the overflow I give to others—my family and friends, my clients, my book. When I'm in my equanimitous zone, I have time to meditate each morning for 20 minutes, to write, to move in ways I love, such as yoga and dance. I get along with my husband and brim with love for my children. I stay in touch with my mom, in-laws, even my ailing grandfather. Then, inevitably, equanimity is broken. Kids fight. Really fight… it’s come to blows. I overspent in my integrative medicine practice on help. My sister needs surgery. Figured out something huge this year: The nature of equanimity is that it is constantly interrupted. I am perpetually trying to impose order—scratch that: straining to provide order—to an inherently disordered system. It’s like the flight I was just on from San Francisco to Dubai. The path between is not a straight line, but a series of constant tacking back and forth with an average that becomes a line from A to B. As 2012 beckons, I’m considering the many ways in which I felt in alignment and out-of-alignment this past year with equanimity.  I noted the same in my clients. And, I drew some conclusions and put the signs of being misaligned into a 3-phase schema. That’s what I do on vacation. How about you? Signs of Misalignment Phase 1: Early Signs of Misalignment. - Desire to escape (for me: into fine Cabernet Savignon or perhaps social media instead of doing the work or READING or LEARNING (I've figured out this is not always in my best interest but is my default patterning). Or email. Or more babysitter hours for the kids. - Can't hear voice (inner divinity or intuition, grace, god consciousness, whatever you may like to call it) or voice is rather faint. - I strain and push. Lose easefulness of daily life. - Thoughts erode (e.g., ugh, it's so damn cold this morning). Pessimism. Overly reductionistic. Black/white thinking. - I go on meditation holiday (Too busy to do what I most need). Perhaps I should call it more of a binge of non-meditation or inattentiveness - I cut corners with the quality of my fuel. A bit of chocolate or sugar or gluten sneaks in & rattles my equanimity. - Cortisol rises. - I sleep less. - Psychic, ambient pain begins to rise. Start of slippery slope. Phase 2: Moderate Signs of Misalignment - My fuel tank is half empty - I become more rigid in my thinking, behavior and relationships - Clients irritate me. My kids irritate me. - Supplements become erratic. - I start reaching for the higher-level solutions instead of the basics, the foundational parts that most serve me (I forget yet again about Pareto's 80/20 rule! Oy) - I lose power: what I intend to put into motion (with kids, partner, clients, blog) doesn't come across. Misinterpretations and misrepresentations abound. - Less open to conversation. - I over provide in my biz & at home (and then resent & get irritable). - Overwhelm becomes my middle name. Phase 3: Late Signs of Misalignment - Depleted. What fuel tank? Empty. Fumes. - Shadow side of my personality gets reflected back to me everywhere, and I'm so not grateful - Distracted, inattentive. Lose keys. Lose papers. Sometimes kids. - Scarcity everywhere. - Not writing. - Husband annoying. - Fights with girlfriends & kids - I don't call my mom or sisters - I want an elaborate vacation from my medical practice - I wonder if I'm not cut out for motherhood/doctoring. Self-doubt. - Head in sand financially. - Binge on escapes (food, vacation, exercise) - Burnout As a yoga teacher and eternal student of ancient wisdom, I often turn to Patanjali's Yoga Sutras for help when I'm misaligned. Patajali states that equanimity is one of the four sublime attitudes. The others? Loving-kindness (maitri), compassion (karuṇā) and joy (mudita). Good reminder to track not just equanimity, but the other sublime attitudes too. Just like the airplane’s tack back-and-forth to get to its destination, I have signs that I’m in alignment, held without the weird rigidity of Phase 2. Here's my list. Signs I'm Aligned 1. Meditate every morning. Non-negotiable. 2. Sleep/Food/Movement are flexy but consistent 3. Fuel tank full or even overflowing (and overflow is what I give to others) 4. Gratitude. Daily inventory. 5. Clear/direct communication 6. In my POWER 7. Accountable What’s your list? How do you know you’re misaligning?

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9 comments

  • Michelle: December 29, 2015

    Great piece! I’ve been thinking a lot about balance lately too, how perhaps expecting to stay “in balance” all the time is unrealistic, it’s learning to live with the ebbs and flows and develop the awareness and skills to bring yourself back to center. I can totally relate to your warning signs – this is so helpful!

  • Tanya: December 29, 2015

    “If only” is my full stop. The moment that pops into my mind I know I’m misaligned in the most egregious way and it’s time to land the plane, refuel and course correct.
    xo

  • maxine badger: December 29, 2015

    yes, how swift the change from gratitude and flow to misalignment and knots…! yet, everything passes – the unending loop of things.
    I try and keep that in mind!
    Just experienced in one night, what felt like a raw regression, a kind of inner freeze/panic prompted by ego and heart disappointment/bewilderment – someones absence on my birthday, (prioritised by an assignment!) why is everyone SO busy in study or work or kids? and finding heavy tension/conflict in the gallery i’m about to show in, and no sleep ‘cos of force gale winds…emotional and physical red lights. This, after a month of wonder n expansiveness, finding a great new place to live and feeling connected with close friends, and those yet to meet.
    We can see, feel, speak, smell, touch – and move! It’s the making time and space within ourselves and with others, that matters.
    Happy New Year!

  • Susan Epstein: December 29, 2015

    Dear Sara,

    Happy New Year and thank you for the clear symptoms of misalignment (very familiar!) and steps to realignment. I enjoyed your travel blogs of China.

    Wishing you health, balance and joy in 2012,
    Susan

  • Lynette: December 29, 2015

    Dear Dr. Sara -
    I enjoyed having a moment while eating at my desk to visit your (not-so) new web-site! I never get a chance to just browse and read - always too much going on! GOOD stuff, doc!!

    Anyway, I miss working with you, as you had really helped me come sooooo far! After my dad died I was fine, and it was later that I fell apart! Been depressed and feeling a LOT of anxiety. On that depression/anxiety roller-coaster again!

    When I can afford to commit to the three months (@ $1000 each) I will definitely return! I just saw here that after the three month commitment there are the 25 minute appointments are just $500. That really has me excited, as THAT I can do! (Too bad I can not hop right into that since I have been with you for years and we have so much data already!)

    Aaaahhh … I wish. I wish. I wish. ha…

    Until then, all the best! I really need you and look forward to seeing you again someday. I know you know what to tweak!

    Lots of love, respect, and admiration always,
    Lynette Toney
    XOXOXO

  • Natalie Peterson: December 29, 2015

    Wow!! That was a nail on the head piece!! I am a wife, mother, massage therapist, yoga teacher, doula….and I am so done, done, done with everyone right now!! I have allowed ME to be used up with giving and not recieving. Tears seem to be very near the surface, I am cranky and snap at my family at the smallest things. I am 25 pounds heavier than I would like and cannot seem to get nourished. I feel like a fraud telling my clients how to be healthy when I am so obvoiously out of whack myself!! Thanks for the direction and the reminder. :) Onward and Upward!!

  • Sara Gottfried MD: December 29, 2015

    Sandra,
    Good for you for even recognizing the misalignment and identifying that powerlessness that is at the root of all significant change. I can feel how hard you push yourself. After 45 years of working hard, I’m realizing that perhaps I need to work different. Invite ease instead of pushing. Maybe today there is one small thing today that points you in the right direction. Yin yoga at home for 10 minutes? A quite, slow and nourishing meal? A 15-minute walk in nature, mindfully taken? At the risk of sounding like a chirpy cheerleader, what are you grateful for – what’s working in your life – what helps to turn on your inner pilot light? What’s your inner voice telling you to do next? The benefit, the wisdom of the particular issues you struggle with (I would imagine) is that I bet you’re highly attuned, and have a well-developed intuition. What’s your intuition guiding you to do? Adrenal health sounds like an important priority. Please stay in touch and let us know what helps.

  • Sandra: December 29, 2015

    I feel your misalignment and mine! I am so misaligned and have been so for a long time. I am desperate to find solutions. My health is suffering and I am running from doctor to doctor looking for answers but no one seems to know what to do. I am sure I am adrenal deficient and I never sleep anymore unless I am heavily drugged. My weight is rising steadily like the spring temperatures. I seek refuge in my computer everyday avoiding life, it’s easier to get lost in the virtual world and forget. My yoga practice is a thing of the past. I can’t seem to get through one day without pain, shortness of breath and I feel the adrenaline rush at even the slightest hint of stress. I’m hoping the blood work for adrenal imbalance will give the doctor some evidence that will help him treat me more effectively.
    Dealing with IBS, degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, PTSD, side effects from Cancer treatment (radiation and chemo), menopause, Raynauds syndrome, peripheral and localized neuropathy, all at once is just too much!!
    No matter how much Omegas, Vit D, Homeopathic remedies and HRT and other supplements I take, I just can’t seem to get a grip.

  • Mya Kramer: December 29, 2015

    I so appreciate the way you share and deliver so much great information and do so from a position of a woman as well as an expert. Your exposing your humanity only makes me trust and respect your opinion all the more.

    And a good reminder that goals aren’t static and balance is temporal and no matter how wise and evolved we become it still takes intention. I relate all to closely to the irritating clients and husband signals… those same people who on a full tank are my inspiration.

    Thanks for doing what you do.

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