I was watching Goop Lab on Netflix. The topic was female sensuality. Gwyneth Paltrow was participating in the discussion. At one point the focus turned toward her, and how harmful it must be to grow up as a sex symbol and feel like you had to perform to a certain level sexually with your partners. She was kind of like, ‘yeah…no…not really an issue…because all that is fiction…it’s not real…it’s easy to separate from it.’
Hold that thought. Let’s make another connection to movies and story. Can you connect to the experience of being lost in a story to the point where you forget that you are seated in a movie theater? Whether a book or a movie, can you connect to the experience of being lost in the trance of a story?
Early in my teaching career, I learned five reflection questions. We added song and movement to remember them – it worked.
- Did you notice?
- Why does it happen?
- Does it happen in life? Does it happen in school?
- How can we use this?
Considering the two examples I shared about fiction (it’s not real, easy to disconnect) and the trance of a story (so engaged you disconnect from physical surroundings), can you reflect on your experience of fiction and story using the five questions?
Using a tool to reflect is a way of creating a sense of curiosity. When we can tap into a state of curiosity, we enter into an integrated mind/body state where we become curious problem solvers. When we are in a state that allows us to access a broad view, we see things in a constructive way. When we are not in an integrated space of mind/body, we address events, situations, and circumstances often in destructive ways.
Learning the history of the slave trade (13th Netflix), the origination of policing and capitalism, watching the murders of innocent black men, hearing the accounts of other murders; all this escalates the nervous system. Exposure to new information and horrific live video creates a mixed state of emotion that can include feelings of confusion, anger, powerlessness, guilt (how can this be happening?), embarrassment (for not knowing).
That word. Escalate.
When we disconnect from our shared humanity we may view others’ experience as fiction. When we are lost in a trance of story that supports inhumane and cruel acts, we may engage in a script or commentary that is disconnected from the intrinsic value, dignity, worth, and potential of all human life. When we escalate we are in fight, flight, freeze, faint.
De-escalate. To de-escalate is to first be aware of being escalated, or when a situation is escalating. When we recognize the cues our body gives us, we can choose to soothe our response, and return to balance (integrated mind/body) which includes a natural sense of a shared humanity.
Nature functions as an integrated whole. The cells in our body function as an integrated whole. When external forces mess with nature, or body cells, the result is not good. Is society meant to be different then nature and the cellular system?
What if we got curious about our internal experience of feeling escalated, and what it is like to apply skills, tools, and strategies to de-escalate and return to an integrated mind/body (balanced) state? What if we practiced and could apply the practice to external situations, circumstances, and events in our families, work environment, and community?
What if we got good at recognizing what is helpful to recognize as fiction, and what is necessary to validate and move toward for better results? What if we got good at recognizing what it’s like to be caught up in a trance of story that perpetuates harm to self or other?
What if we tell the story? What if we create the trance?
If so, what do we desire to create? Would it cause harm to self or other?
I don’t think so.
I’d like to share a link to a course that I integrated into a book. There are three parts to the book which you can read about in the preface. Part three includes a few simple skills, tools, and strategies that can help you get curious about the story you tell, and how to disrupt stories that limit self or other.