The antidote to overwhelm

Jan 17, 2017

Overwhelm |

If you’re anything like me, you live in the zone somewhere between your chin and the crown of your head, encased in the sounds that your two ears take in, almost twenty-four hours a day.

There is a constant barrage of intellectual processing available to you:  social media feeds, television, articles, books, blogs, images.

You can access, at the swipe or a tap or a press of the finger

a myriad of others’ ideas

ideas about the world

ideas about you

and how you should be.

Your mind is on hyper-over-drive.  Consume consume consume 

and yet it is powerful still.



if your body feels tired, you can still convince it to hustle.

if your muscles long to stretch, you can shift slightly in your chair and continue returning those emails.

if your chest explodes with butterflies, you wonder if it was something you ate

not your body saying “no! no! no!”

In a world where you can be accessed at the press of a button, where you can access the world with a device you keep next to your body all day every day,

In a world where you display yourself for all to see, and live out your

ups and downs, highs and lows, uncoverings and discoveries, sadnesses and truths

through a lens, on a keyboard, to anyone who’s also turned on

(which is to say, everyone)

it is no wonder that

the edges of yourself are hard to locate.  The very perimeter of your physical being seems caught in the ether somehow, 

like smudged ink

or watercolour paint bleeding toward the edges of the page.

It is too many yeses.  It is overriding your body’s needs with your mind’s drive.  It is being surrounded by the needs of others, their physical presence or their digital demands.  It is ever-so-subtly wrapping yourself amoebically around the expectations of others and the ways in which they say you are not enough until they are a part of your psychological cytoplasm,

and you can’t tell where you ended

and the constant stream of information about who you should be

what you need to accomplish

and how you can prove your (so-called) value in the world




This is overwhelm.


This is what it feels like to drown

with a body that is trying to tell you she can’t breathe

but you’ve forgotten how to listen.

So, my darling.


Get your feet on the grass and wrap your arms around a tree.

Feel the coolness, the roughness.

Lower your body to the earth and realize that she has

more than enough strength to hold you.

More than enough.

Eat vegetables that still taste like the earth in which they were grown.

Go to the woods, go to the ocean, go to the prairie, go to the rocks, go to the sand.

Let the clean air nourish you and realize that she has

more than enough oxygen to fill your lungs, sync your heart, enervate your mind,

More than enough.

In the earth, you might find


that her rhythms match your own.

They’ve been doing so, steadily, even without your attention.

In the earth, you might find


that are achingly perfect

and you might realize that yours are too.

That you are enough.

You might find the edges of yourself, the container for this experience that you were given at birth and have since forgotten

You might find


The Becoming Podcast has been on a short hiatus while I focus on writing my book, but oh what a comeback episode I have for you!

This month, I spoke to Toko-pa Turner, who many of you may know as the unofficial patron saint of many of my circles and gatherings because of the sheer number of times I’ve quoted from the wisdom of her book, Belonging.

Toko-pa is a Canadian author, teacher, and dreamworker. Blending the mystical teachings of Sufism in which she was raised with a Jungian approach to dreams, she founded The Dream School in 2001, from which thousands of students have graduated. She is the author of the award-winning book, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, which explores the themes of exile and belonging through the lens of dreams, mythology, and nature. This book has resonated for readers worldwide, and has been translated into 10 different languages so far. Her work focuses on the relationship between psyche and nature, and how to follow our inner wisdom to meet with the social, psychological, and ecological challenges of our time.

Here’s some of what Toko-pa and I talk about in this episode:

> The dream that changed Toko-pa’s life, causing her to question her career and, ultimately, her identity

> How we can court our dreams to support us during times of radical transformation – and the reasons so many of us have a hard time remembering and working with what shows up in our dreamscape

> Toko-pa’s perspective on the message of Belonging after the divisiveness our society has experienced in the years since it was published

> What happened for both Toko-pa and I when we fell out of belonging from the ideologies of the “wellness world”

> How to build community when you’re under-resourced

> “The Big Lie” when it comes to belonging, and how we can reclaim a sense of belonging to the greater family of things, as Mary Oliver so famously wrote

Listen to the episode on iTunes


Show Notes

Toko-pa’s Website

Belonging:  Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko-pa’s book

The David Abram video about animism mentioned in the interview

Toko-pa’s self-guided program, Dream Drops

Companion, the program that accompanies Belonging


Also, while you’re at it, if you enjoy The Becoming Podcast, I would be so grateful if you would rate and review, and even subscribe to it on iTunes.  That goes a long way to helping more and more people find and benefit from hearing these interviews!  Thank you so much!