A lot of people are having freaky dreams now. They say it’s related to the stress of the situation.
Last week, I had a dream so scary that I didn’t sleep well for the rest of the week. I didn’t want to go to sleep it was so scary. I had dreamt that I had locked my door and gone to bed and woke up in the middle of the night and there was a man in a 3-piece suit in my room. He closed the curtains over the window so that it was pitch-black. Then he came and lay down next to me on top of the bedcovers, like a mannequin. In my dream, I was so scared that my hands were shaking and weak. I tried to attack him but I didn’t have any strength to do that. Then he said, “Now you have to do what we say.” And left without opening the door.
Someone said he was the virus, and that makes sense.
Since then, my dreams have been more obvious. I’ll be out walking in the streets, on my favorite walks, down paths that I like to walk down, leaning on railings and looking at things I like to look at when I walk. Or I’ll be at brunch with someone, eating deliciously overpriced food – of all meals, brunch is the most overpriced, in my opinion (but I still love it for the idea of it), kicking back with friends.
And then suddenly it will occur to me that I’m not wearing a mask. Or I’m not social distancing. And then I start to panic.
The problem is our amygdala’s are on overdrive. You want to know why US mortality was up in general, even before this? That is true – people in the US have started dying at a younger age. At first they thought it was opioids. But then they controlled for that and found that people are still dying at a younger age. Perhaps it was depression.
Perhaps it is the constant amygdala-hijack we’ve all been on for so long. Starting in 2001, with the World Trade Center. That was traumatic enough on it’s own.
And then the government had those ridiculous color codings for terrorism risk that did nothing except stress us out and keep us in a state of terror.
The news got in on it. They went from reporting the news with a scrolling bar across the bottom if there was breaking news, to spending all day talking about whatever the scary topic of the day was with the real news scrolling at the bottom. They say “Breaking News” as if something important has happened, when really they just want to keep you watching.
Then just as things started to calm down, Trump got elected. The election itself was bad enough, but now the hyperbolic rhetoric, whether you’re watching left or right, is ridiculous. It is designed to keep you in a heightened state of fight or fear. And then social media went nuts, incited by bots from other countries or extreme wackos that want to bring us down by turning us all against each other.
Think about it, you’re in fight or flight from the moment you get up, check your phone or turn on the news, to the moment you go to bed.
This isn’t healthy.
You want to know why movies and TV keep getting more and more violent, to the point where you just want to fast-forward through entire swaths of John Wick? Because your amygdala is so overstimulated – just from every day life – that you’re not responding to scenes of violence anymore.
What can you do about it?
Well, turn off the TV. Turn off your phone.
Meditate to relax your amygdala.
Metta – loving kindness meditation, where you wish well to others. You can wish well to those you love. You can wish well to the fauna in your microbiome. You can wish well to those you hate.
May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be free from suffering.
That’s all it takes.