Helen Adrienne L.C.S.W.

On Fertile Ground

Creating a Virtual Campfire: Reclaiming Resiliency & Self-Efficacy in Serenity

Virtual "campfire" - Learn to disengage from the stress of infertility

Posted Jun 07, 2011

In our frenzied world, it's easy to lose sight of our body and our mind's need for balance. Optimum health exists between activity and rest, work and play, wakefulness and sleep. This is how Nature means for it to be. Before electricity made it possible for the day to never end, it was easier to live life this way. Balance allows us to reclaim the resiliency that makes difficult challenges seem possible. No one would argue that infertility is a difficult challenge.

To live without balance is to live without claiming the opportunity to release the inevitable buildup of stress. Unrelieved stress has been shown to result in mental and physical illness. Indigenous societies still in existence today know how to create balance. They work hard all day and then they sit around the campfire, tell stories, sing, dance, drum. All of these activities reverse the physiology of stress and allow the bodymind to start with a clean slate of sorts.

When we release stress, we are more likely to be connected to our sense of agency, which is really our power. If we do not incorporate ways of relieving stress, when we are bombarded by expectations and demands at home, in the work place and in addressing the inordinate demands of infertility treatment to boot, we may not even breathe fully, depriving ourselves of sufficient oxygen, the life force, which supports our efforts. We forget that the breath is a built-in tranquilizer.

We need to find the discipline to create virtual campfires often, since infertility will bounce you out of serenity at every turn. When dealing with infertility, the need for this discipline is hard to come by given the exhaustion of the demands and disappointments that assault from all fronts. But the serenity to be found in creating balance is recuperative. It is the avenue to relief from stress. In addition, it opens an avenue to our inner wisdom. There is so much that we need to discover about ourselves and our situation when dealing with the challenges of infertility. In this world especially, we must deliberately create the time to make these discoveries so we can ease the path. Balance is not built in to the fabric of our society. Yet, if the bodymind could speak, it would beg for the stress to be balanced with serenity.

How can we create a virtual campfire? A virtual campfire can be anything that totally absorbs our attention, making it difficult for negative thoughts to intrude. It can be the pleasure inherent in creative endeavors such as baking, making curtains or painting a room a bright color. As long as the activity has a strong enough lure, it can disable the tendency of the mind and body to intensify frenzy and upset which disrupt feelings of well-being.

When you're in a funk, if you "do" something engaging you will reap the benefit of relief and therefore regain resiliency. But generally, those in a fertility quest are in no mood to take care of themselves in this way. Understandably, the demands of life and medical treatment take up all the discipline you can seem to muster. Yet discipline is the key word. When you least feel like it, if you behave counter intuitively, you can disengage from the intrusion of negative expectations.

There are times when it is necessary to dive under the turbulence all together-a time when "doing" doesn't work. If it feels impossible to settle on something engaging enough to hold your focus, letting yourself just "be" distracts from the demands of infertility. It might feel even harder to accomplish this disengagement, yet as an option it has even more power to achieve a reversal of the relentless stress of infertility.

How is it possible to let go of the worry that accompanies the infertility journey and just "be" by creating a virtual campfire? Here is just one way-a way that is less demanding of the discipline it takes to develop meditative skills. In fact it is incredibly simple:

Light a candle. Stare at the flame. Bring just enough conscious awareness to this experiment to facilitate breathing easily and freely. Now simply notice the candle. Let yourself be curious about the way that the flame dances. Is the window opened or closed? What is the flame responding to if there is no obvious draft? Why does it become so still and at other times seem to dance with joy? When the flame is still, can you mimic that stillness within yourself? When it dances, can you allow yourself an inner effervescence? And if there is a draft, what can you learn about the way the flame moves in response to air currents? Let the candle be a metaphor that transports you in a mindless way to the recuperative powers of serenity. You stand to learn that if you let go, you will feel better. And therein lays your power.