While we are experiencing our darkest, longest nights of the year as we arrive at Winter Solstice (December 21), there seems to be more and more tension and stress "in the air." I have been reminded quite specifically in the last few days that the secret to surviving stress is consciously choosing neutrality, staying as neutral as possible and coming back into neutral as quickly as possible.

What do I mean by neutral? Anything that does not have a "charge" around it – thought, feeling or action – is neutral. Grace is neutral. Ease and grace are neutral. Have you ever noticed that stress has a certain electricity and agitation to it. It’s rather acidic. For example, for many people the holidays bring up all kinds of emotional memories, good and bad. You notice I didn’t say stress. Good or bad means there is a charge or agitation to the thoughts, feelings or actions associated with holidays and being with family. Neutral is neither positive or negative, good or bad. Neutral is the place of wholeness, feeling complete in the moment in a state of no thing. Ah.

Our beloved cat recently gave me a really great lesson about the value of staying neutral. Last week we discovered that she was dealing with some kind of cancer "project." The vet advised us to make her as comfortable as possible and to consider picking a date for her to depart this earth plane. I know many of you have been in our shoes. We had never been here before and we were definitely in uncharted, very uncomfortable territory (STRESS). We talked with a number of our friends and every one of them said "It is hard. That’s all I can say."

Our Girl Cat seemed to be losing ground by the hour, so we picked a time and date for the vet to come to our house and help her pass. We felt deeply saddened. We wished our beloved cat would simply go in the night so we wouldn’t have to make this anguishing decision or take this action. We were lost in space for 5 days watching our cat deteriorate, we thought. We found ourselves trying to prepare, to make the euthanizing perfect. Yikes. As I said, we had never been here before. As the time for the veterinarian to arrive approached, I noticed MY breathing constricting (STRESS). I felt anxious. (STRESS).

What happened next knocked our socks right off! The vet arrived with tools in hand for the procedure. She placed her other hand on our cat and Girl Cat darted away to a place where we could not reach her. In that moment our cat chose life and said loudly and clearly with all her fervor: "I am NOT going today!" First we were stunned. Then we felt relief. And guess what? Since that moment that our cat adamantly chose life, she seems to be growing stronger and eating more. Incredible, I know.

Here is my awareness of neutrality. When she had made her decision for how her life would play out, we felt liberated, totally relieved. We felt lighter.  I realized that I have no idea what the next moment or day will be with our cat, and for my own sake and hers, I decided I will stay neutral about any outcome and address whatever happens in the moment. I will not make up anything about how things should go for her. I will stay in the present moment and respond then. That is what I mean by being neutral. For myself, having made that conscious choice freed up a ton of energy. That’s quite amazing. I realized I  truly appreciate when my energy is freely flowing rather than constricting and literally cutting off my airways. And when I was "lost in space" with my anguish in uncharted territory, it was my body, my breathing that advised me that something wasn’t good (very much in a state of "charge.")

Consider this. Neutrality is not a state of being for which society allows much space – sports, politics, media, bosses, work, school, family – and I haven’t even mentioned traumatic life circumstances. For our wellbeing and health, we have to find neutrality or create it on our own. In addition to making a conscious choice for neutrality, also known as grace, also known as centered wholeness, one of my favorite ways to come into neutral with Healing Touch Quick Steps is called The Complete Breath Hug. Here’s how you apply it, anytime, anywhere – at a moment’s notice. Cross your arms and place your fingers under your arms with your thumbs resting flatly on your chest. Relax your shoulders, arms and hands as much as possible, breathe normally and simply be with your body’s natural system of healing while you involve your mind in counting 36 of your exhales. Your inhales will follow naturally. :-) That’s it!

Neutral IS where the POWER is. It’s where your infinite reservoir of life force is. Neutral as Eckhart Tolle might say is The Power of NOW.  What a relief! The Winter Solstice reminds us, and actually takes us to that place of
neutrality with that longest, sleep filled, replenishing night of the year. In this challenging and fast-paced world, remember the secret to surviving stress rather than allowing acidic stress to burn your energy to smithereens, is neutrality. May you have long periods of neutrality day and night, in a state of ease, grace and joy, interspersed with minimum amounts of life stress. Take care. Take good care.

Happy Solstice and Holy Days,

Copyright (c) 2007 Barbara J. Semple. Entire contents. All rights reserved.

COMMENT from a reader: "Zen Buddhists have another way of saying "coming into neutral." They call it "Being Still," which they call ‘the Third Position.’ "