Easing Jangled Nerves

©  Michele Lauren Hummel

I would be willing to bet that most of us, when experiencing some sort of stress, will eventually find a favorite way in which to return to a state of nurturing simplicity in order to feel better. Several weeks ago, Editor Nancy Hamilton wrote about emotionally comforting foods, such as: ice cream, cookies, mashed potatoes and gravy, potato chips, chocolate, whatever it was that "did it" for us in order to ease the jangled nerves.What else might we do?

This past week, I experienced a day whose contents had me more than a little on edge. I was on input overload dealing with understanding some financial information, learning to operate some new electronic equipment, plus working a new computer database.

By evening, I had had it! My mind was close to fried! I shut down my office, and retreated to my kitchen. I turned off all lights except those I absolutely needed, put on classical music from the Gregorian and Classic periods. I lit several candles; I needed them for my soul, not for light. I got out a dented stewpot my mother had used all my growing-up years, selected some vegetables, and began the tedious, timeless task of fixing a soup for my dinner. This, for a change, eased my soul instead of Rock 'n Roll.

Saturday, the 5th, my band, Mountain Folk Singers, (referring to residence not style) did our first concert in the new amphitheater built by our leader, Bill Florian, on the lot next to his home which is also the Spring Oaks Bed and Breakfast Inn. He started the project last year after giving much thought to its design and creation. Bill once told me how he enjoyed the hard physical work, and especially enjoyed making the rockwork that faced the benches of the terraced seating. Building the amphitheater gave him a great deal of comfort and release from everyday tensions of life.

Several years ago, I had an excellent flute student who was also a prominent attorney. He gave up his law practice because of health reasons. For therapy, he began landscaping his large home property and part of this project constituted building stone walls out of local materials. As time went on, he developed a nice avocation creating custom rock walls. He claimed that he had found his calling in life and regained his health by being a stonemason. It was more truth than joke.

I also had a fine piano student who was a heart surgeon. This highly achievement-oriented woman also was a competing triathlete. Music and sports she said kept her sane.

I believe that in this society which has become so tremendously diverse and complex, with great amounts of external stimuli impacting us every minute of each day, many of us do have a strong need and desire to put ourselves in places and situations which reduce sensory input and allow us to go back to honoring very primary needs. Hence, the popularity of various meditation styles, including Tai Chi, of music from the Gregorian period, those single-lined melodic church chants without pulse and harmony, and of repetitive individual activities such as jogging, swimming skating and cycling.

Whether you go for a run after working on your rock wall followed by eating a bowl of chocolate-topped ice cream while listening to music of the Benedictine monks, or whether you cultivate your vegetable garden after a session of Tai Chi while munching potato chips, find your place of balanced serenity and ease your soul. Your mind and body will thank you for it!

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