In search of a worthy impulse

What is this need in me for pressure before anything gets done? Like I have to be running extremely late to hurry or focus my mind. Or, in this glitchy body of mine, invoke gravity for digestion to work, tolerate extreme contraction of muscles to hold my laxity upright. Or like, even as I realise my journal is running out of pages and nowhere nearby to buy a new one, I find myself pondering how I should pretend this is the case more often as it seems to help focus my mind and get my writing more ‘on point’ (me the frequent victim of verbal diarrhoea).

What is this ever present human need for pressure, imperative, even disaster to focus the ability to get on with things, or is it especially an oddity of neurodiversity as though normal motivations don’t apply. I simply can’t be bothered with most things because I already glean the inevitability of reversal…spend a day cleaning and watch the house get messy again, go somewhere only to come back. That gleaning haunts me as a sort of pointlessness that turns everything lax…a sort of hypermobility of the attitude that echoes my body-state. Without urgency, pressure, fear, imperative nothing much would happen in my world, I suspect.

How is this related to the constant search for stimulation, for something to ‘hook onto’, to ‘beat me a rhythm’? Here I am tonight staying in a supremely quiet location for once, which is my longing, and the silence is almost deafening yet I’m wide awake at 4am because something stimulated me. There it is…I’ve got it, subtle though it is. Is it a smart meter? A subtle rhythm, thin as a reed, impossibly shrill only it’s not a sound so much as a sensation penetrating me, a sort of disharmonious quiver, a tension that asserts it’s non-organic pulse right through me. My foot registers it first, then it runs through my vagal nerve, ends in acute tension in all my muscles and nerves like they are poised to perform some alien action though the only action right now should be sleep!

Or is it the moon, big and full arched over the house tonight but I don’t think so because though I always register the moon rise up, go down, with every fibre of my being, that can feel insistent but never alien.

This trend for awaiting ‘instructions’ (pressure, imperative, urgency) lays me wide open to being overly impressionable because some part of me sits and waits for that thing from outside of me, to motivate me, to acquiesce to (and though this doesn’t feel like ‘me’, miss independent, it’s an old pattern going back to the start of my life). My nervous system is like a drowsy child straining to keep one eye open, one ear listening out lest the teacher should call out their name or bark out an instruction. Though they want to surrender, to relax to their innate imagination, the child feels like they must attend…or die. How many of us feel like this, the chronic hyper-vigilance of the human condition, entrained from birth until our innocence subsides?

Often the kind of things such a nervous system latches onto with all its sensitivity (refined as it is over many years of seeking some sort of worthy impulse to drive it) are not such good markers of time or objective. So the impulses that drive us bewilder us or they hurt, confound and distract, sending a us off on a macabre dance through pain and disillusionment, enslaved by a maniacal pulse tapped out by a pair of once beguiling red shoes we now long to shed but don’t know how. Slowly it becomes apparent, only we can take them off, no one else can do that for us, but how to break the spell?

The breath…to breathe, to find one’s own natural rhythm, one that has always been there, the continuum, emanating from the very centre of existence. I’ve always struggled with my breath; too shallow, too perfunctory, made small out of forgetfulness or shame, or as though not sure that I’m really entitled to it. Always afraid that if I make it conscious I will forget how to do it; that if I interfere, take it apart with my curiosity, I won’t know how to put it back together again.

So how do I turn to the breath without interfering, so that it can lead me (not me if)? Can I simply learn to trust it and my ability to hold it, not to breathe so much as to be breathed, to be amazed into reverence at its very presence in my chest…without having to get too curious, doubtful, analytical? Simply sit with it as the most loving and reassuring force in the universe made manifest within me, then entrain to that?

Having found it, the silence is suddenly punctured by the robin piping up in the dawn gloaming. I feel nerves unravel like self-unpicking knots. Witness tension roll away like wash off the beach leaving pristine, glistening sand. Begin again, and again, with each subsequent breath. Experience first-hand the paradox of the universe that, in its ever pressing continuum, it’s relentless march forwards, it’s urgency, it’s disillusionment, birth and rebirth will always continue to assert, come what may. Here within me exists a worthy impulse; one to which I can surrender.

About Helen White

Helen White is a professional artist and published writer with two primary blogs to her name. Her themes pivot around health and wellbeing, expanded consciousness and ways of noticing how life is a constant dance between the deeply subjective and the collective-universal, all of which she explores with a daily hunger to get to know herself better. Her blog Living Whole shines a light on living with high sensitivity, dealing with trauma and healing from chronic health issues. Spinning the Light is an extremely broad-based platform where she elucidates the everyday alchemy of relentless self-exploration. A lifetime of "feeling like an outsider" slowly emerged as neurodivergence (being a Highly Sensitive Person with ADHD, synaesthesia, sensory processing challenges and other defecits overlapping with giftedness). All of these topics are covered in her blogs, written from two distinct vantage points so, if you have enjoyed one of them, you may wish to explore the other for a different, yet entirely complimentary, perspective.
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