Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Obsessing About Stressing October 2, 2012

The other night I dreamed an entire blog post. I woke up a few times thinking, “Yay! This will be a good one!” but dozed off again before writing anything down. When the alarm rang we jumped up and raced off to our grandchildren’s soccer, baseball, and volleyball games. By the time I thought about my dream it had snuck into that place where unremembered dreams hide. I sure wish I could find that place. I hate losing a good idea for a post. But I’m trying not to stress over it.

I used to think I was very laid back, but lately I’m reconsidering: partly due to an excess of traveling, and partly because I had my annual checkup last week and my doctor questioned my alleged “white coat syndrome.” My mother, a nurse, would have dismissed it with, “Pooh! It’s all in your head!” But, hey! What’s in your head is still real, right? It’s even been written up in medical journals! It’s when your blood pressure reaches a hypertensive average in an office setting but not at home. Oddly, people with this condition don’t exhibit signs of trepidation. That’s me. I don’t feel anxious or get palpitations, but put me in a room with a white coat and my blood pressure soars.

I’ve known this since I volunteered to be a guinea pig in my high school anatomy lab. After a quizzical look and two re-checks, my teacher sent me back to my desk with a vague, “Oh, you’re probably feeling a bit excited,” before quickly changing the subject. Now I always warn the nurse.

My goal is a reading no higher than 130 over 80. Last week I felt perfectly calm but it was 161 over 94! Yet I always get normal numbers at those blood pressure machines in the grocery store! Weird. But, good patient that I am, I bought a blood pressure monitor. After recording the numbers I note what I was doing before I checked it because I’m curious to see if there are any patterns. So far, out of 25 readings my average is a perfectly respectable 125/76.

And yes, I’ve found a pattern. The six lowest readings averaged 110/70. Of these, two were taken immediately after I’d written long e-mails to friends, one after playing Words With Friends on my I-phone, two after being with my children and grandchildren, and one after checking my social media sites. I love it! All six had to do with positive interactions with family or friends! Conversely, the highest reading, 149/87, was taken after I’d spent an hour trying to figure out how to edit my e-mail signature! That time I didn’t need to take my blood pressure to know I was stressed!

So what gems of self-knowledge have I mined from this little science experiment?

1.  My ego may believe I’m not afraid to die, but somewhere in my unconscious (probably next door to the Cave for Unremembered Dreams) lives a part of me that fears the things I associate with doctors: physical vulnerability, suffering, mortality. More “proof” of this split-off part: an hour ago while I was writing about white coat syndrome my blood pressure rose to 137/86! Now that I’m almost finished with this post, it’s down to 128/73!

2.  I love how easy my computer makes blogging and writing to friends, but it also has a sick technological side. Obviously, I need a computer doctor! No one with a white coat need apply.

3.  Balancing work I love with good relationships is the best medicine I know for stress.

I just took my blood pressure again. It’s 122/71! (Am I obsessing? Should I worry about bursting blood vessels in my left arm?)

My new book, Healing the Sacred Divide, can be found at or


Bringing Down the Wall March 13, 2012

Conflict and criticism have always made me anxious and my natural tendency is to avoid them. While this strategy has protected me from some discomfort, it never completely eliminated it. Crouching behind a wall makes you hyper sensitive to possible encroachment and it’s easy to mistake friendly missives for enemy fire. You can miss out on a lot of help and healing that way.

So when Joseph Rogers-Petro, one of the most loving souls I’ve encountered on the internet, wrote that my post “The Bridge to Wholeness” was the first he’d read that disturbed him, my first thought was “Oh, oh!” and my first instinct was to dive for cover. But years of shadow work have lowered my wall of resistence considerably, and I listened with a receptive mind. With his full permission, I’ll share some of his thoughts:

“I can’t be so sure our beliefs about the Divine originate in us—in me. If I choose to believe they do, is that not a belief similar to those who believe the opposite? They’re both thoughts (theories) …and try as I might I have not conclusively figured out—beyond all doubts and with proof— where my thoughts come from. Perhaps they come from the Divine. Perhaps all holy books are inspired. Perhaps everything is inspired. Perhaps my thoughts come from what I ate last night.”

“I was not offended by your post, only surprised by its tone and mode of expression. I guess I did hear within the words the same type of energy as the fundamentalists of organized religion…just a little though…but it was so uncharacteristic in your posts that, for me, it stuck out…”

“I was just a bit taken aback by not so much the sentence about where the Sacred Mysteries originate, but the exclamation point at the end of it. That set a tone, in my way of looking at it, that is final, leaving no room for question marks…The realm of the spirit (and mind/soul/body) is so open…so…different for everyone…and I have come to love the questions…”

“Spirituality can be about believing…in the sense of weaving our thoughts to a set of ideas that we love or find helpful. Belief isn’t the problem…It’s trying to make others wrong for their beliefs that’s the problem.”

There’s nothing here with which I disagree. I truly believe there are as many paths to the Sacred as there are souls, which is why I emphasize the importance of taking our needs seriously and conducting inner work. But Joseph’s right. My spirituality is guided by beliefs too, and behind every conscious belief there’s a shadow reality. I fear I may have emphasized my own path to the point of unduly discounting others, and I see that my unresolved shadow issues with organized religion gave this post a negative tone I did not consciously intend. I feel badly about that and have made a few revisions to soften the tone a bit.

Did Joseph’s observations make me uncomfortable? Sure they did, but his willingness to share his honest reactions in a loving spirit was a true gift. He concluded: “Maybe you and I are saying the same things…I dearly, dearly, dearly hope I have not offended you…please know that I am sharing these words to help me sort it out within me, and to simply suggest a few questions and possibilities. Namaste to you, dear Jeanie, Namaste.”

Like Joseph, I’m still sorting, questioning, and trying to come from compassion and understanding. Now  if I can just get over my ducking reflex…

Namaste, dear Joseph.


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