My feet are restless. It happens from time to time.
It takes effort to remain still something I am normally very good at doing. I have often spent a long time seated by a fire gazing into the flickering orange light and allowing my mind its freedom to wander. Allowing thoughts to come down to their natural conclusions without forced efforts or labourious intent. This is not one of those day. This was the other kind of day. The ones where the brain starts plotting and planning before sleep has even left it. The days that your already tired of thinking before you even open your eyes to the new dawn light. I don’t like these days. They rarely bode well for patient and considered action, lending themselves much more the haste and truculent endeavour. Restless feet. That’s what I call it. Where you cannot stick to one task that keeps you in place for too long. The feet take you on and on allowing you no rest. Oh you can try sit and force the feet to stop, but all too soon the tapping starts, or the leg bounce, and even though you are engaging your mind in whatever is in front of you, the feet still itch and twitch.
I don’t like these days. Not because of the activity they invariably drive me to. I have never had any problem with doing the work. It was the other thing of it. The feet knew something that as yet I did not. Some truth lay just out of reach, just too fuzzy to consciously grasp. Some ephemeral concept that set the subconscious on edge to the extent that it took partial control of the physical form whenever the conscious mind was not paying attention. Of course recognising the signs is the first step, becoming aware of the subconscious influences on the body. It doesn’t end there though. Seeing the symptom and learning to recognise it is great, but that doesn’t resolve the condition, no more than acknowledging a sniffle can get rid of a cold.
Step two is where we choose. That’s where the conscious mind kicks in with all of its fantastic computational power. Thing is, choice is a matter of free will and a person can freely choose to ignore what the restless feet may indicate. Can freely choose to focus the minds processing ability on some distraction or another until the body is too tired and the restless feet can no longer twitch and bounce. Then when sleep takes over, when the body can no longer function in a state of wakefulness, the problem goes back into the realm of the subconscious. This may seem like a great idea at the time and if asked I would admit to having made this choice on more than one occasion. The language of the subconscious could be described as dreams and in the realm where the conscious mind no longer exerts dominance, there dreams thrive. The subconscious take the wheel and applying its language of allegory to the minds processing powers the matter may resolve itself without additional considered awareness. Yet what happens when that is not the case? Well the brain starts plotting and planning before sleep has even left it and you’re already tired of thinking before you even open your eyes to the new dawn light.
So how does one choose a different path when step two arrives? It’s not as easy as holding a finger in the last page of the ‘choose your own adventure’ book you’re reading and pretending that your character has a magical prescience talent. Oh come on, don’t tell me you haven’t done that. Actually, considering the change in how media and technology have moved in the space of my thirty plus years I guess a new analogy would be reloading a save game because you didn’t like the outcome of the last mission.
What mechanisms do we have in place in our daily lives to address our own subconscious? I am no proponent of one particular method but I would like to list a few that I have engaged with.
A personal mechanism not just about cleanliness. At my lowest point in the spectrum of depression I couldn’t even raise myself from the bed. It took a lot to start my recovery from there, but one of the personal mechanisms to help with that is a daily shower. It became more than just a place to get clean, it became a place to acknowledge the subconscious influences tightening my muscles and to allow myself to consciously wash them away. In the beginning the showers long and required a lot of focused awareness but over the years I have maintained this practice it has gotten a lot quicker and still leaves me settled.
Letter writing -
I don’t do this one often but it is one of the most effective personal processes I have for engaging with aspects of my situation that are outside of either myself or my area of influence. A blank page can be a great boon to a burdened mind. Thoughts have a way of cycling upon themselves or taking irrational or illogical leaps when subjected to the extent of our minds processing powers. Taking these thoughts and defining them by the physical act of applying words to them means that all the processing power has a clear method to direct the thoughts. The act of defining a thing gives it bounds and shape and in that way I often come to a place where I can manage the situation better, either through a newly perceived action, or through acceptance and patience now that the scenario is clearly defined for my perceptions. These letters are always just for me and so I will always be completely honest with myself in their words.
Mirror talk -
This one is a bit more direct. Its a face to face, eye to eye conversation. It too come from what I now fondly refer to as ‘the dark times’. Sounds easy right? Just look at yourself in the mirror and talk yeh? Well some may find it easy, but this one was hard for me to address as I have long had personal challenges about accepting my physical form. I would suggest you give it a try. Grab a mirror and try meet your own eyes for at least a minute.
Honestly, the first time it happened was because I was exceedingly drunk and really angry at myself. I trundled my way to the nearest mirror and gave vent to my anger in a blistering tirade of vitriol. It was only when I ran out of breath that I managed to look myself in the eye and saw the pain my words had caused me. A well deserved apology lead me to tears and I learned then the value of seeing myself. It took me a lot longer than it really should have to realise that I could engage with myself in positive mirror talk as much as negative. I have come to value taking this personal time to meet myself face to face. To discuss the nature of my thoughts aloud with the one person I will never be without in my entire life, myself. Of course it’s a private matter to know one’s own mind, but it has helped me come to accept a lot more about myself than I initially thought it would and at times when I walk past a reflective surface in the street I think of the person in the mirror and acceptance I have come to with him.
This is a very popular term these days and although there is a lot of variety in method, setting, guidance, sound triggers or anything else the baseline function remains the same throughout. Meditation is a practice which can be used by a person to consciously choose to address their subconscious. I know a lot of folk very skilled in this process and they inform me that it’s of great benefit to them. Thing is I have not invested enough time to consider myself skilled in using this technique, but even the casual occasions I have engaged in give me an active insight into my own mind.
So there we have it. An insight into my mindscape and some of the mechanisms I have engaged to help myself understand myself. I have learned, some might say the hard way, the price of ignoring the subconscious influences on my physical form. Everything from elevated heart rates, ibs, and surprise panic attacks have occurred to me. In the dark times when I lived alone and had no process to manage myself I fell into the trap of alcohol use. It is unfortunately a rather common practice in Ireland and not just among males. The inebriation allowed my ‘conscious control’ to slip and that which the subconscious was warning me over to come to the fore. I hold myself as extremely fortunate to have come through those times without a dependence on alcohol, something which seriously harmed the lives of both of my grandfathers. Of course I am far from considering myself ‘better’ but at least I now have a few tools with which to manage myself.
Who knows, maybe something in this could work for you.
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An Scéalaí Beag
We all have thoughts and perspectives and opinions. Its simply part of the human condition as a socialized species. So In the interest of insight, this is where I will share my perspective and opinions.