Sunday, March 25, 2012

Moods by Association

Moods by Association
by Desiree Leigh, Wake Up to Live



I'm getting settled in my new home in Nanoose Bay.  It's been about three weeks; however, it feels as though we've been here a lot longer.  The quietness is amazing!  I don't have to 'find' solitude anymore.  It's right here under my feet.  The geese are very active right now so I hear them almost all day.  The crickets chirpy sounds are so loud when there is nothing else to listen to in the background in the evening.  When the skies are clear at night, the blackness is lit up with billions of stars.  And, the most beautiful to me is watching the horses gallop just beyond our back fence.  Nature is really heaven when you have a chance to be with it.  Living in the city, I had to make a point to get outside and take time to be with nature.  When you live somewhere in the country, it's all around you.  My agenda no longer has the words "I must get outside" on the to do list.  That in itself is beautiful.

Relocating to a new area after growing roots in one area for 28 years can also be somewhat difficult.  I was on a high for two weeks, loving every moment; nonetheless, I was also very busy unpacking and getting organized.  My mind was distracted with novelty and nature.  During the third week, something happened.  My mood decided to dip.  As a counsellor and a coach, I was totally aware of what was going on with my physiology and mind.  However, just because I am aware of it, it doesn't make it any easier.  This way of being is all part of such a big change.  Gawsh, especially after living in a city for 28 years with the loss of great old neighbors and friends.  It's not that I literally lost my friends.  In realty, though, I will not be seeing them as much as I used to, and that somehow breaks my heart.  Being here in a new town can make you feel a bit isolated, too.

Yesterday, I was able to get out and do some shopping in North Nanaimo.  The area has everything you need, all centrally located.  It was a beautiful day with the sun shining.  I had to make a point, though, to talk with others.  Moving to a new place can make you feel alone not wanting to kick up a conversation.  It's quite easy to get into the rut of shutting down or closing yourself off from others.  When you're isolated, it's natural to spiral downhill with the sullen moods not even realizing how far you've gone.  These moods are all past behaviors I remember well.

These moods can also take you back to the past, rehashing stuff that you thought you resolved making your mood even more melancholy or sentimental.  It's not that you haven't resolved these issues from the past, though.  It's the 'relatedness' or the 'association' you have with these particular down moods.  Meaning, the mood itself takes you back to the times, bringing the memories with them, when you felt that particular way.  Thus, my sullen mood took me back to my most prominent years where I grew up on a farm with lots of acreage, a beautiful field of tall grass, and clusters of tall trees.  The memories that come back from the past (with these moods) are the times our family home was filled with abuse, anger, and drunkenness.

Nonetheless, I've come to realize that just because I may feel sad, isolated, and alone at times, it is extremely important for me not to go to the past and rehash these memories.  It's only my current mood that has triggered the memories.  Even when you resolve past hurts, the memories remain - they don't go away.  Consequently, they can surface with ease during times of anger and sadness.  As a result, a mantra is in order.  My mantra is simple.  I say the words, "Don't go there" repeatedly, and within seconds my mind is back on track.  Breathing deeply also works.  Of course, this method is not for past hurts that haven't been resolved.  Please notice the differences.

Humans are sentient beings.  We perceive and feel things all the time.  We are up, down, and all around constantly.  If you've even slowed the mind down and really noticed, you'd realize your moods change all day long.  What's important, though, is not to go for the ride on the roller-coaster; rather, observe it.  To remain constant, meditation, nature, mindfulness, and yoga all do wonders for the observation and calming of the mind.  Anything that takes consistent concentration will support you in life's mood changes.  Find something that works for you.  You'll notice over time that your swings won't be so dramatic.

One thing I love about getting older is the wisdom I gain.  It's been a long hard travel as many of us have endured.  Every one of us has a great and honorable story to share.  What's important to remember, though, is to be vigilantly aware of where you're at constantly - in your mind and body.  This is so you don't get swept up by old patterns of behavior, moods, and attitudes.  If you've worked at resolving issues and you know your heart is not weighed down by them anymore, there are still things in life, such as a picture, a smell, a flower, a voice, a place, or a mood that will quickly take you back by association or relatedness.  Awareness is key; then take the steps to move through with a gentle understanding and love for your self.  You deserve it.

As for Nanoose Bay, after my next two psychology finals and before I get on with biology and philosophy studies, I will take a week to explore.  By then, the warmth of the sun will be out.  Hurrah!  Kayaking looks enticing; maybe horseback riding will be good, too.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh