Words Are Traps

Words Are Traps: Information Overload

Words Are Traps: Information Overload

I think most of us are on constant overload these days. The convenience of technology also means we can get hooked on information about anything and everything with little effort. Sometimes that information is something we want and sometimes it isn’t, but either way we can get hooked on feeling overstimulated. I think we’re all familiar with this concept, whether experience it firsthand or have seen those whose eyes flick to a screen or have a device constantly in hand. What does that do to being fully present in our lives?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love ready access to technology. The community of online friends I’ve cultivated brings many, many riches to my life (you know who you are, my lovelies.) I would not want to give up any of it. But, I also think it is important to cultivate stillness and quiet inside in order to remain centered within yourself.

Remaining centered within yourself means being in the eye of the hurricane instead of the arms.

Most of the information overload we experience comes our way via words. We read a text or a tweet. We scan our email, blog post or news article. We type search results and read feeds. Words can become associated with the stimulation we feel online. Even reading a paper copy of a book can mimic the stimulation of eyes going side to side on a screen.

The stressful feelings from words can reinforce the story we tell ourselves. We define ourselves with words online to others and we reinforce our thinking patterns by paying more attention to information that feeds it, disregarding things that do not. That isn’t useful and could potentially become harmful.

But, when you disconnect from words, it can be an additional way to allow the sympathetic nervous system to relax while bringing our parasympathetic nervous system a chance to center us within ourselves. Using visualizations, whether guided imagery meditations, gazing at objects that give you a feeling of calm or simply closing the eyes a very deliberately describing every detail of an object, immediately brings the imagination out. Imagination automatically produces symbols that are outside of the word traps, yet show the way to presence and centering.

Simply focusing on an image has been shown to lower the stress hormone, cortisol, for several hours. The body and the mind are retrained to exist more in balance with the parasympathetic nervous system. It allows the brain to jump away from the usual list of worries and to reconnect with a nonverbal way of functioning.

Visualizations, even for a moment or two, distract from the stories we tell ourselves. It can make room for new ways of thinking or creative solutions that don’t reinforce our well-worn pathways and they remind us that we can stay in our center for as long as we wish. The words will be there when we decide we are ready to read them.

Post Number 2 for NaBloPoMo
(Since I’m writing most of these late at night, in bed, while tandem nursing twins, I’m choosing to concentrate on writing rather than editing. Please forgive the extra typos and non-nonsensical grammar. Thank you.)

NaBloPoMo November 2013

3 thoughts on “Words Are Traps

  1. “The stressful feelings from words can reinforce the story we tell ourselves.”

    Zoie, you are clearly back blogging in full force. This is another fantastic post that speaks directly to what’s been in my head recently.

    Throughout my life, I’ve found that different visualizations work best for me at different times. When I was in my early 20’s, I took a class based on the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, in which I learned how to do contour drawing. When I really focussed on connecting the contours of a three-dimensional object to the pencil in my hand, I felt a great sense of relaxation. At other times it’s been the image of the Buddha, or a candle flame, or getting outside and noticing my surroundings. Lately I’ve been finding the same sense of relaxation from singing, which isn’t visual unless you count reading the music, but it seems to involve the same kind of concentration for me.

    • Thank you for the kind words, CJ. The only way I can write is speed writing. So, I wrote this in less than 30 minutes. I’m just glad it makes some sense!

      The class you took sounds fascinating. I have a giant painting of a blue face of the Buddha in my bedroom (it’s 6’x6′) and it is a constant visual reminder to relax and let go. I definitely use words to guide me, but I need visual reminders all the time. Sometimes pictures cut through all my defenses.

      And huge yes!!! to music and movement as tools to access relaxation. That is a tremendously powerful point. Those yogis were on to something with asana and pranayama before the more “mental/spiritual” limbs.

I love comments and try to reply to each one. I look forward to connecting with you. Namaste

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