Global High Activation

(Written in February 2005)
Weekend with my siblings.  I was not well, dehydrated, constipated, headache, slept badly.  I think I got radically overstimulated — too much talk, ideas, opinions, I thought at the time that I wasn’t overwhelmed because I was able to function.  Although I didn’t take care of myself very well.  I felt odd right from the start.  A sort of spaciness which I didn’t understand at all.  It may just be my response to over stimulation when I’m not depressed or terrified.  I did take art materials but never got them out.  I didn’t read any of the stuff they had lying around — that’s really different.
Gosh it’s so strange — I wish I had written about it while I was in it, but even paying attention in the Somatic Experiencing way wasn’t really possible.  I’m wondering if I was out of my body all weekend.  Certainly coming back to Neskaya, and dancing with the circle brought me back.

Still haven’t been able really to digest and integrate the weekend.  I told Eleanor I thought I had been out of my body, and she said yes, that’s why you got sick.  I wasn’t really able to describe what it felt like in my body.  Just now I thought of trying to describe the quality of the energy — vibrating, buzzing, colorless, its location all around the upper part of my body, a sphere or cube 3 feet across.  Something like that.  There was a dryness about it too, although there was also real dryness.  I drank lots of water while I was there.  The meaning of my life (Neskaya, dances, diversity, bringing compassion to pain) didn’t disappear completely, but it was like it was in another room.

In the Somatic Experiencing training they told us about “Global High Activation” which is what happens to an infant who is traumatized before the flight or fight instinct is fully operational.  After all, what would be the point of needing to flee when you can’t even crawl.

Work with Barbara, another trainee, in small group — couldn’t think what to work on and then suddenly thought of last weekend with my siblings.  Just the thought sent me into global high activation, and even my attempts to ground could only reduce it, not make it go away.  What’s really amazing is that’s what I felt that weekend with my siblings, that I couldn’t identify because I’ve never had it before without either depression or terror.  I could feel my attempts to ground and also the upward pull — the most useful thing was Barbara’s suggestion to let them both be.  Then the dynamic went to a finer level — 1000 tiny helium balloons each pulling up on tiny heavy pieces of me.  Sitting with that sensation, I became a mountain — the mountain from The Mountain That Loved a Bird — I was aware of all the small earthquakes and crumblings and also the life: trees growing, streams flowing, animals prowling, really a lovely image to sit with and experience.  It became even finer, an image of the Mandelbrot Set, chaos and complexity, very small adjustments, but the whole picture organizing itself at finer and finer levels.

The Mountain that Loved a Bird by Alice McLerran, illustrated by Eric Carle

There’s a lovely short on YouTube of the story with different illustrations.

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