I was working on Karuna’s toe this morning. Last year she injured her first digit in the back yard while playing with our fur babies. Karuna had kicked a tree root and substantially stubbed her big toe.
It has taken a long time to heal and we are still cleaning up the remaining ghost patterns. One reason why the toe has continued to be an issue is the emotional context of the event. More times than not, injuries happen because they indicate a lapse of mindfulness. From this place, our higher self is looking to get our attention through our body.
Let’s take a look at the emotional cognitive factors that Karuna was experiencing before she kicked her toe. The theme is busy-ness. It was a time of transition and there were a lot of tasks on hand that needed to be accomplished. This emotional context creates a level of anxiety that invokes the sympathetic nervous system response. The level of stress that an individual can respond to appropriately, with positive adaptation, is unique to them. This is why some people can appear to thrive in busy-ness stress loads while other people become overwhelmed.
Adaptation has a sweet spot similar to Flow-State Awareness. In Flow-State Awareness, the intersection of skills and challenge has an optimal range. This range is referred to as Flow. A simple explanation looks like this: We have our skill sets that meet a changing environment. When the challenge is not sufficient to tap into our skills, apathy is the result. We may experience lack of engagement. Conversely, when the challenge exceeds the capacity of our skill set, we are overwhelmed, and anxiety is the result. The sweet spot is the intersection when our engagement adequately challenges our skill. This balance of engagement to reach Flow-State creates a cascade of feel good emotions. No matter what activities or the skill requirements of our environment, from writing to athletics, and everything in between, stress is adaptation.
Adaptation has three basic outcomes; no change, beneficial change, and maladaptive change. Comparing this to the spectrum of flow-state awareness, no change would be in the apathetic spectrum. The challenge was not sufficient to invoke adaptation. When the challenge is sufficient to produce change, we experience either beneficial or maladaptive change. Beneficial change is the sweet spot when we are able to meet our challenges with appropriate skills. When our skills become overwhelmed by the challenge, the result is maladaptive change. Exceeding the capacity of beneficial change indicates that challenge has exceeded our skills or stress has turned into strain. This is a universal truth, and to mirror this truth, our emotional cognitive processing follows the same template.
The current of our emotional construct is perception, based on our experiences. Those experiences are either real or perceived. It’s like the movie that is running in our mind. It’s in constant motion 24/7. The mind is filling in the gaps between our memories with projected experience. We get lost in the ability to perceive what is real and what is not real. Our bodies are responding to the movie of our minds whether we are consciously aware of it or not.
The practice of mindfulness helps us to build up our capacity to recognize when the minded is projecting skewed information onto the movie screen. At a certain threshold, when the projected skewed information exceeds the capacity of emotional tolerance, the body sends SOS signals. These signals may be subtle, like low-level anxiety, or they may be overt to get our attention. In Karuna’s example, the level of busy-ness exceeded her stress threshold. Her body had been sending messages. The volume level of that message became substantial enough to pop her toe.
In this example, Karuna’s injury had a message. When that message is heard and acknowledged, then balance is restored, and parasympathetic healing can occur. The injury had a message. That message didn’t happen to her, that message happened for her.