Reflections on fear and lizard brain reactions - from my three weeks hike through the Alps.
Yesterday I ran away from the thunderstorm in the mountains and camped next to the hunters refuge hut. I didn’t sleep in this night, my body in constant alert and stress from unknown animal sounds, passing cars, the noise of storm in the trees, the possibility of another thunderstorm, and a pile of other fears, feelings and thoughts occupying my head. Impossible to relax enough to fall asleep, even though my body was heavy and tired.
As I later noticed: A state of full freeze – that survival reaction which can become chronic if the load in the nerve system after a trauma or shock is not released.
I got into panic when I saw the thunderstorm coming, and the additional uncertainty of being alone without a shelter and the plan to camp wild was a sheer overload, which caused a kind of freeze in me.
What I understood in that night: There are no demons coming to you that you don’t carry inside you anyway. So face them once they show up. Ask: Who are you? What do you want?
I met my deep fear of violation of my boundaries that night. “Something or someone can come and violate my boundaries, and I am helpless and too small to defend myself”, this fear-demon says.
I guess it speaks with the voice of a culture that teaches women that they are weak, that they will be victims if they meet the world openly, and that anything they do alone is dangerous.
Or would a group of well-meaning elder hikers ask a young man who travels alone whether he has a pepper spray to defend himself?
But the demon also spoke with the voice of me as a child, who was feeling helplessly overwhelmed when the sudden fights and dramas of her parents would appear like thunderstorms in the mountains: Hard to know when they appear, for how long, how dangerous, and there is little shelter to find around, as you don’t know the territory you’re in so well yet.
Rob Brezsny, my favourite astrologer and pronoic writer, suggests that you are more monstruous than your fears: When they come, put on your ugliest face, scream and roar at them, for example: “My love is the sword that will cut you into pieces, and my trust in life will eat you raw for breakfast!” I read and tried it that night. It helped, but still no sleep.
But also I noted that my instincts work quite well: I got up half an hour before my alarm after the sleepless night, at 6.30, to leave soon before people might come. But when I had just managed to put on my pants suddenly a car drove to the front yard of the hut – it was a shock moment again, as I didn’t expect it. A man got out, and when he saw me and I murmured “Scusi, sorry” for camping there, he just waved his hand and didn’t really care.
He opened the hut and started to unpack stuff from the car while I packed my things as fast as never before. Then he offered me a coffee, and still in panic at first I refused. Another man arrived in a car. We exchanged some words, I got a bit calmer and accepted espresso in a plastic cup. I had a look into the hut: two huge wild boar heads and many deer skeletons, photos of the hunters and their trophies.
I wished them a good day and left in a hurry – and then kept almost running for another hour, until I got aware of my panic, stress and exhaustion.
I also got aware how the place actually had had a negative, thick energy that I had unconsciously sucked in for a whole night – camping next to the hooks where they would hang the freshly killed animals.
It was a reminder to choose the places I stay at not from fear (of storm), but for the enery they carry, which I can clearly feel most of the times.
Just a 15 minutes walk further I found a hut with a wonderful calm and protected atmosphere – but that night I just didn’t have the courage and faith to walk on.
To melt my inner freeze, to release the stress, panic and also grief I felt (for this senseless and careless killing), I searched for a safe place in the sun, a warm meadow with freshly cut hey, a small hill in my back and wide view down to the sea in front.
There I finally rested and did my work: I visualised my center and the frozen and stagnant places in it, I connected to Earth and called her support to relese negative and cold energies in me and refill me with fresh and warm ones. I visualized my bodies energetic layers and chakras and cleaned, refilled and aligned them. And finally I re-established my protective shield, and with it my freedom to open up for perceiving and receiving the world around me again.
30 Minutes of this work and I felt like I was present, clear and calm again – ready to walk on and enjoy what’s beautiful and nourishing. Ready to take good care of me and my basic needs. Ready to also face new unfamiliar situations.
And so I did. Three hours later found myself in a lovely church listening to the Sunday morning service, and four hours later eating ice cream in an elegant italian city center. What a shift of worlds.
I wish any woman (and man) knew these techniques to center, clean and replenish herself after shock and stress – to prevent a longlasting trauma or to resolve old trauma reactions.
To melt what is frozen and bring flow to stagnant places – step by step.
And, as I found out the next morning, not sure if I should start the walk due to a thunderstorm weather forecast: It’s the first step that matters. And then one more step. And another one. Little by little – and it can become a beautiful hike with soft winds and clouds and with thunderstorms just passing far away.