09 Apr 2013
April 9, 2013

The Oprah Syndrome pt.4

Oprah Winfrey: “All the money and all the fame and all of the attention and the glamorous life and the success and all of that doesn’t mean one thing if you can’t control your own being.”

Dr Oz: “But let me pick up on something Oprah said that is so beautiful. For her, obesity became an excuse that she could hide behind. And there a lot of folks out there who are carrying extra weight around and use it as a shield to [avoid] deal[ing] with the deeper challenges.

-Larry King Live, CNN

Oprah Syndrome Somatic Experiencing Brian Mahan

A resilient Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is able to cycle through various activations (reactions to stimuli) and return to homoeostasis. Throughout the course of a single day there are typically hundreds of activations. One moment we can feel hopeful, the next moment angry, the next moment sad, the next moment titillated, etc., etc., etc… And that is a good thing.

We want to be able to feel! But, most of us believe that if we feel anything, then something is wrong and if we feel nothing, then everything is O.K. We also tend to think that joy and bliss are life’s ultimate goals and if we feel sadness, anger or frustration, then something [outside of us] needs to be fixed. We seem to give greater credence to our thoughts than we do to our bodily sensations and feelings. However, our body’s communication offers us the kind of guidance that would often times better serve us. I’ve come to believe that intuition is literally a ‘gut feeling’ and listening to that ‘little voice’ in the back of my head would mean that I’m crazy.

Seriously, we, as a society, have come to believe that the only thing that we need to survive is our intellect. If we can anticipate hypothetical problems and solve them before they come to pass and truly become problematic, then we have a greater chance of survival. Generally speaking, our higher brain is a very effective problem solver. It has thoughts, words, reasoning, rationale, perspective and judgment at its disposal. It uses these tools to solve problems, but it also uses them to find problems. Left to it’s own devices, the higher brain is a problem-seeking-problem-solving machine on steroids. And because it is in a near constant exploration of problem seeking and problem solving, it can keep us in a state of all things problematic. To add insult to injury, our body’s autonomic nervous system reacts and responds to every thought as if it were real. So, it’s no wonder we struggle with stress and anxiety.

I have heard it said that the stress and anxiety that we feel is directly proportionate to the degree to which we are not accepting our current circumstances. Conversely, our most joyful states occur when we are most “present” and “in the moment.” It’s nearly impossible to reach orgasm while thinking about your laundry list. Any doctor will concur that Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is less likely to occur as a result of organic imbalances and most likely to be psychogenic. “Performance anxiety” has practically become a medical term.

Forgive me; do I digress? How have I gone from talking about Miss O to the Big O? Well, if for no other reason, we can all relate to Oprah because she is just as human as we are. She puts her pants on one leg at a time, too. The biology and physiology of our bodies are 99.999% identical on a cellular level. The animal drives within all of us are the same. We all strive to survive. And yet, we are as dissimilar as snowflakes.

The body is the common denominator of all of our experiences, perceived and real. The lower brain is without reflection or logic or point of view. It is online, receptive and responsive 24/7. While we are asleep, even in the dream realm when conscious thought appears to be on hiatus, the body behaves. It is the lower brain that wakes us in the middle of the night when there is a strange noise on the other side of the house. The lower brain insures the safety of the organism. It needs to know where the organism is in time and space and can only do so via the information that it collects from the environment. From a physiological perspective, being “present” or “in the moment” means that we are fully oriented to our immediate environment. Our higher brain can take us into the past or project us into the future, but our lower brain anchors us into the embodied reality of now. So how does the lower brain do just that? (See The Oprah Syndrome Pt. 5)


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