Why Environment?

The importance of the environment–like fish in water–it is our surroundings that effect us in more ways than we know.  the energy of our surroundings dictates everything that happens to us and within us.  We need to get a handle on our environment and control what we can of it–directing energy as best we can

Our environment sets the mood–it sets the stage for our lives to unfold against.  I view our environment as essential to our well being.  I purposely go out of my way to go to beautiful places, to see beauty and drink it in anywhere I see it.  I remember reading somewhere a while ago that serotonin levels in the brain increase while looking at the ocean or the sky.  something about the open space and the color blue.  Serotonin is the brain neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood.  too little serotonin can lead to depression, anxiety, insomnia, and possibly aggression.  Too much serotonin and we get confusion, high blood pressure, and possible violence.  So I will go to the ocean when I am feeling depressed or sad or just in a funk.  If I can’t get to the ocean I will at the very least look up into the sky and breath…this may not exactly cure me–but it does make me feel a bit better.

As for any other environment I try to stay tuned in to how the environment I am in is affecting my mood.  I have realized that being in crowded cities increases my anxiety level, casinos make me depressed, my bedroom is a safe haven, work is a safe haven, but being on the water makes me feel peaceful, relaxed and expansive–my happiest moments over the past few years have occurred on the water.  Everything else falls somewhere in between…but I know one of the main reasons I have been able to deal with everything that has happened in the past few years is because I purposefully have made time to get myself to the water and to avoid those situations that increase my anxiety, depression or anger.

It took me a while to pay attention to how the environment affects me–I think it started with the realization that cold rainy days made me feel worse about myself and my situation–where as sunny days gave me a better out look.  Then I began to notice how my body felt in any given situation.  Since I work as a massage therapist in my own private practice I am in complete control over my work environment–I can’t even begin to tell you how this has shaped my ability to deal with my sons rejection.  I can be in my massage room, listening to massage music, soft lighting, not talking and feel at peace, even though I am the one giving the massage not receiving it.  I can be angry and upset with something the AP has e-mailed or sent thru the attorneys but as soon as I walk into my space–it reminds me to take a deep breath and settle into the space and the peace it offers.  The environment alone has that kind of effect–it doesn’t mean I stop thinking about it–but my emotional response is mitigated.

Conversely–I have found that the few times I have been in court, or in the DCF office or the AP’s driveway–basically anywhere immediately connected to the PA my insides are jittery…I am very far from peace.  I feel anxious, alert, my defenses are up, the entire fight or flight response starts to cascade thru my body.  and really, no matter how many deep breaths I take or how much mindfulness I practice that feeling does not dissipate until I am out of the environment.

Crowded spaces make me confined and on alert–wide open spaces make me feel open and lighter…Simply going outside for a walk can make me feel better if I am all wound up about some incident or miscommunication or an outburst from my son…a simple change in environment, by walking around the block can create huge changes in how my body and therefore my mind and emotion responds to stimuli…

So take a moment throughout your day and notice how your environment makes you feel–physically and mentally.  Our bodies have huge wisdom lodged in them, so pay particular attention to the sensations that arise when you stop to check in with how you are right now.  As you begin to become aware of how the environment affects you, you can take steps to create better environments for yourself–if you can’t change the environment completely you can still make small yet powerful changes that bring you pleasure. add a candle, incense, a photo, a plant, a flower–clear up clutter, take out the trash, play soothing music while in traffic, take a walk–whatever it is you need to do to make you like your environment better–you deserve to feel safe, protected, and surrounded by beauty….do what ever you have in your power to do to make those small changes in your environment to increase your ability to feel better.  Seek Beauty.