This winter, amidst the pandemic, my range of activities have drastically been reduced. I begin to feel the effects of being cooped up inside the house. Sometimes it’s a sense of dullness or boredom. But sometimes, even when I am mentally engaged in something stimulating, like reading or writing, I still feel a kind of physical inertness.
All the above, the boredom, dullness, and inertness, are simply energy stagnation at different levels of the body. During the day when our body is supposed to move, yet our energy isn’t flowing, then after a while, we get the feeling of being stuck, immobile, inert.
This is especially likely when being cooped up indoor in winter. When the outdoor temperature below -30C, before factoring the windchill, I am less motivated to go outside for a change of sceney. Not only that, it is not even a good idea to open the window. Without fresh air and without movements, the effect of stagnation is doubly strong!
While clinging on to the verge of my sanity, I discovered a simple way to combat stagnation: transition.
I first encountered this concept in the summer of 2018 when I started using flower essences. The practitioner advised that I used the essences four times a day. The number of times isn’t based on a fixed number on the clock. Rather, it’s based on a transition.
What are some examples of a transition? Getting out the door in the morning to go to work; returning home from somewhere, etc. My own interpretation is that one transition is one shift of our emotional, mental, physical, and etheric bodies, from one zone to another. So when we step out of our house, we are shifting our thought, emotion, and body to another space, another purpose, another objective, another social network, etc. It is a little bit like driving a car with manual transmission. In between gears is a gap–a moment of opportunity to shift all levels of our consciousness in unison.
When we choose activities that do not engage the entire body, for example reading and writing, we will feel physical stagnation even when we are mentally or emotionally engaged. A transition is a shift that engages all levels of our body, and while shifting, it can also help to align the different levels of consciousness.
Some examples of my transitions include: going to the grocery store; cooking a meal, sometimes four times a day; taking a shower; going out to check my mailbox; etc. The activities are simple, even mundane, but they help to punctuate my otherwise sedentary day doing reading or writing or puzzles. The key is total engagement of the body.
Taking a shower is a great transition, as the warm water improves blood circulation and therefore energy flow. That’s why we feel invigorated after. Taking a warm bath doesn’t have the same effect though, because the water is still, not flowing, so even though it is equally warm, it doesn’t stimulate. Instead, it relaxes and calms, thereby inducing stillness, or the activation of our parasympathetic nervous system. Stagnation and stillness are not the same thing. So before you shift gears, know which gear you want to shift into: sympathetic or parasympathetic.
Stagnation is when the energy flow during activity is stalled or blocked. Stillness is when we return to our core, our source, for rejuvenation and rest. Stillness is the basis of activities, in the sense that we need to be well rested so that we can recharge and exert ourselves in the outer world.
Stillness is the state of parasympathetic mode; activity is the state of sympathetic mode.
Caffeine is a convenient solution to stagnation. But it has certain side effects. A transition, on the other hand, requires zero skill and has zero side effects.
When outdoor temperature is high enough, leaving my window ajar to create a little bit of air movements inside is sufficient to keep my stagnation at bay.
Sometimes I would use snacks to kill boredom. Usually that means there is a need for emotional comfort. In this case it is not simply stagnation, but there is something deeply emotional. A transition can help to relieve overall stagnation, but not the emotional problem. The only way that can effectively stop my snacking is to address the emotions head on.
I have a tendency to be sluggish, which unlike boredom, points to something deeper. That kind of inertia requires a lot more energy to move out of, because the stuckness occurs at a deeper level. I find that flower essences are quite helpful in moving through sluggishness.
There are some scenarios that cause boredom that cannot be alleviated with a transition. For example, if you are in a party or a conference, and you feel bored, you might still be obligated to stay put. It is still the same feeling of stuckness and stagnation, but not because there is no movement around you, rather, because you are not engaged in the movement. The obvious solution is to be engaged, though you don’t need to be engaged in the activity that is happening around you, instead, you can choose to be engaged in something else, even if it is just twirling your fingers. I sometimes massage the acupoints on my hands, and breathing deeply into it while I’m at it. Alternatively, I say my positive affirmations.
There is a kind of boredom that is related to monotony, routine, and repetition. The mind isn’t stimulated. It can be doing the same job for ten years. It can be married to the same person for ten years. Or it can be running on the treadmill for ten minutes. My solution for this type of stagnation is mental engagement or novelty.
How do I feel when I have transitioned out of a stagnant scenario? It’s like being stuck in traffic for a long time, moving at a speed of 5km/h when it should be 50km/h, and then suddenly the traffic frees up and I am driving at 50km/h again! Exhilarating! I feel as if I am alive again!
If you ever feel the need to feel alive again, to taste the zest for life, then engage yourself fully! Every cell and every atom of your being!