February 10, 2020

Just keep breathing, breathing, breathing…

Journal Entry #81

I’m so glad Dr. Katrina gave me a custom tincture to help calm my nerves – it is kind of like liquid Valium.  I’ve used it several times today.  My heart was racing even before the alarm went off this morning at 5:20am.  I was shaky, scared and anxious about the day of travel ahead.

It is weird how when this anxiety first started to emerge, it was only in relation to bugs.  Then it seemed to start turning on when I was a passenger in a car.  Then when I was watching Canyon play baseball.  Then again when I was thinking about travel.  Then again when I had to start taking myself to Doctor appointments.  It has become a generalized anxiety.  There is no logic around it and I can’t seem to predict when it will arise or how long it will stay or how severe it will be.

Which is why I am so thankful that I have developed so many tools to help me get through it when it does comes.

One of the most common misconceptions about Meditation is that we need to do it for 20 minutes, or one hour and some say to do it once a day, some say twice a day.  Years ago, I remember reading that it really depends on what the reason for meditating is.  If one is seeking enlightenment, and really wants to train to empty their minds to make room for more light, then absolutely more lengthy sessions are required.  But, in that same article, it said that if we are looking to calm ourselves, move our bodies into rest and repair and curb thoughts and emotions (who doesn’t want to do that?) we physiologically don’t have to invest that much time.

All we need is 4 minutes.

In 4 minutes of breathing less than 8 breaths per minute, our body is triggered into a series of chemical reactions.  A chemical (peptide) is generated and released in the brain that is the equivalent of valium and lets the body know that it is okay, to chill out and to rest.  The next really cool thing that happens is that the body then begins to produce DHEA.  Many take this as a supplement, or drink it in fortified milks and orange juices because it is so important for the body. Why?  Well, DHEA is the antidote for Cortisol…the major stress hormone that for most of us is always out of whack!  It affects our immune system, our metabolism, our response to stress, our blood sugar levels and a whole host of other important functions.  There are so many other great benefits too that I’ve come to understand how beneficial this type of meditation can be.

All we need is 4 minutes.

So, I have really been focusing on my breath today.  In the car driving to the airport in the slow snow traffic, waiting in lines at the check in counter, going through security, waiting patiently as they searched my bag of medicines, while waiting at the gate, and then waiting to find my seat – and who I was going to be sitting by.

Once I disinfected my seat and tray table and arm rests, I noticed the gentleman across the aisle doing the same.  He smiled at me knowingly.  I continued to breathe, because delay after delay and then waiting to de-ice the plane had us almost 2 hours behind schedule.  Which wouldn’t have been a big deal if we were just going to land and get to our rental.  BUT, we had a ferry to catch and the last one would run at 6pm.  Our original arrival time of 3pm gave us time to find our way there and maybe even pick up some groceries on the way.  Knowing that there was a chance that we wouldn’t make the last ferry of the day increased that stress and left lots of hypothetical scenarios out in the open.

I have never been a “nervous” traveller before.  I like to have things organized and be early for travel but I have never been so much in my head as I was today.  This is all new.

The flight was relatively uneventful.  I listed to relaxation music and guided meditations.  Tim sat next to me and on the other side of him was a lovely woman from St. Vincent’s.  Other than the puking kid ahead of us who also spilled his milk thought the seat and onto us, we had little turbulence and a soft landing in St. Vincent’s at 5:10.

I began breathing again because we had a deadline to meet in order to catch the ferry to Bequia.  Vibee was our driver and he called ahead to the ferry to say we were coming – and of course there were others on the flight that were in the same position.  He said it is normally a 45 minute drive from the airport to the ferry, and we would be cutting it close after having to go through immigration and customs.  Thankfully, that was uneventful and Vibee loaded us quickly in his van and drove like hell to get us to the ferry.

In 28 minutes flat.

I continued to breathe on the ride too.  It was my first time driving in a vehicle that drives on the opposite side of the road.  The roads are tiny and this place is volcanic -like, so the roads switch back in tight curves and steep drop offs.  Breathing calmly was definitely a challenge when I kept gasping as cars were racing towards us on the “wrong” side of the road!  But I survived.

And we made it to the ferry with minutes to spare.

The big water was dark and angry between the islands.  We pitched and rolled losing complete sight of the horizon at times.  It was windy and we hung on for dear life on the upper deck for the one hour ride.  We all had a beer (because they have a bar on board), my first one in a year, and watched the beautiful sun sink below the ocean.

Even though the ferry was a rough ride, I could feel myself starting to relax, to settle into the amazement and awe that I was actually here.

That I did it.

Afraid, nervous, anxious…it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that I got myself here.

An open air truck met us at the ferry to take us to our rental house.  They gave Cam instructions to find the house on the way, along with helpful hints for driving on the other side of the road, and the “rules” of the island.  Our house sits high upon a hill overlooking the ocean.  The lower house that we rented is very simple, two bedrooms, each with their own bathroom. A small kitchenette between the two.  However, the patio and pool overlook the cliffside and I can only imagine the view we will have when we wake up tomorrow.

Although tired, we ventured on our own into town to find some grub and to meet with Juliana, a friend that Tim had made through work.  We found a lovely meal at FrangiPani (restaurant) and were entertained by the harbour lights, warm breeze and a steel tonged drum band.  Juliana and her boyfriend Kurt gave us great advice on all things Bequarian.

We have bug nets on our beds and our windows and doors don’t seal up tight, so there is definitely wildlife in our room.  I’ve put on bug spray and peppermint oil and I’ve sprayed our bed with Thieves.  I feel like I have crossed enough hurtles for one day, so I am calling it a night.  There will undoubtedly be more hurtles tomorrow.

Xo Juli

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