Always on the hunt for The Next Best Thing …. that’s Red zone.
Restless, craving: red zone.
Regretting stuff from the past, decisions made. “If only..” Red zone.
A painful clinging nostalgia for The Way Things Were. Red zone.
Fears about the future: security, finances, comfort. Red zone.
Red zone is the reactive mode, our fight or flight stress response triggered by perceived dangers: threat or loss, undue pressure, hurts or criticisms, worries and stress.
How easy it is to be in red zone! Eesy peesy. Even beating myself up for being in red zone creates more red zone.
One little trigger is all it takes. Red zone is sooo embedded in our psyche, driven by the relentless rumination it spawns. Red zone is the narrow self-protective instinct on overdrive. It’s the part of our mind that festers and fumes just beneath the surface.
The grumble-grumble Red zone of daily life has a subterranean, mindless quality to it. The wanty-needy self-talk. The not-enoughness.
When we bring mindful awareness to red zone, it starts to change. Red zone doesn’t like the light of awareness.
When I remind myself I’m hard-wired for red zone, due to the machinations of evolutionary biology, it loosens me up.
Just ‘noticing’ helps. The red starts to tilt towards orange.
It loosens me up to remember we’re all in the same boat, us humans. Hard-wired red zoners. The resulting gentle wave of empathy for myself, compassion for us all, moves the orange towards yellow.
Reflecting on the shortcomings of red zone helps too: Think of all the times in the past you’ve been rushing towards the Next Best Thing. Were they necessarily the happy times?
Or, as I ask myself, were the happy times the being-there times; the pockets of contentment when I’m effortlessly present with whatever I’m doing, no matter how ordinary or simple?
The times when we’re not craving or clinging or wanting or regretting. They are the good times, green zone, and we can have them right now.
I can find a little patch of feel-quite-okayness, as a sensation in my body, and savour that instead.
Moreover, we can drink in simplicity, savour contentment. We don’t have to engage red zone. We don’t have to become enraged by red zone. We don’t have to fall for the hard-wiring.
Hey, it’s flashing, it’s changing now, the colour. It’s not red, orange or yellow anymore. My zone has turned into a big green light, a heart that is at rest.
How I love Green zone.
“Each day gives you dozens of opportunities to leave the Red zone and move toward Green. Each time you do this, you gradually strengthen the neural substrates of Green, one synapse at a time.” Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist.
copyright Shakti Burke 2016
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