we walk differently in the rain

state physiology rain
It’s drizzling.

Earlier I walked from Aldgate to Tower Hill tube in the drizzle. I had an umbrella, but noticed the way I was walking was different to the way I might have walked in the sunshine.

My eyes were turned down, seeking slip hazards, puddles, potential splash zones. My shoulders were a little hunched and my elbows tucked in, a sort of self imposed protection posture, to keep the wind and rain out. I was partially hidden under my umbrella, peeking out on occasion to avoid human collisions in busy streets. My pace was more deliberate, seeking to minimise time in the rain.

I wonder to what extent we do this when our emotional and psychological state reflects drizzly? When we are feeling a little weather worn, when we are feeling the need to protect ourselves, when we are aware of potential external ‘attacks’ on our safety and well-being? Do we also shrink a little in posture, strike out with only occasional awareness of those around us, become more sensitive to personal trip hazards, take cover from the precipitation?

How consciously aware are we of our body language, its connection to our state?

How could we learn from paying more attention and being curious?

what is your baseline state, where you live your life?

state
What is your baseline state? Where do you live most of the time?

Do you live in a state of worry, or a state of restlessness, or a state of trying (to be better, good enough…)? Do you know your baseline state?

You’re probably aware when your state changes. We change state all the time. You’ve probably experienced a state change when you’re hungry or tired – it may be harder to concentrate, perhaps you’re a little irritable? Our state impacts our behaviour, our ability and also our choices.

Changing state is unique to our individual humanness. Take moving from asleep to awake. When I awake, it’s like a gradual wave of consciousness. Often my mind becomes active almost immediately, but my body, particularly my eyes often need longer – fifteen to twenty minutes sometimes. It’s as if in that initial awake state I am focused internally and not yet ready to engage with the world. For others, waking is like a switch – mind, body, emotions ready to go, almost instantly. Be curious about your version of a state.

A state involves thoughts, feeling and physiology – bodily clues exist as well as emotional and mental ones. Posture may change. There may be a rise in heart rate, shallower breathing, churning stomach or hunched shoulders.

States are often associated with our environment, what’s going on around us and what we feel, think and do in response. We’ve all experienced a euphoria or joy when something good happens, or a sudden moment of panic when something scary or bad occurs.

States, thinking, physiology, feelings are all interconnected. Each impacting on each other. Like a five-a-side football team these four play in formation with environment. One moves, makes a run in one direction, the others move in response. Constant momentum, like a roller coaster loop – twisting, rising, falling without end.

We attempt to control this wild ride, primarily through thinking. Yet four other parts are on the ride too.

Change your environment, your state changes, your feelings shift, your thinking alters. We’ve all walked in the fresh air to clear our heads. Experiment. Sometimes your environment or physiology are easier to alter. Do you run, so that your head clears, so that the endless thoughts subside? This is changing your state.

In this way, our state isn’t just the result of our thinking or emotions. It can also change them.

So, what’s your baseline state? The state you are in when the other four players aren’t moving position on the pitch? If your baseline state is anxious, or striving, or hurried, or confused, or afraid, or something else that isn’t working for you, change it.

Live your life in a state that works for you. That way when you’re blown off course, you know where you want to get back to.