“Lars,” said the highway patrolman as he handed back my license after pulling me over for speeding, “Slow down.”
I was two hours into my six-hour drive, coming home from visiting with patients at the Frida Fibromyalgia Center. I was filled to bursting with having helped patients find that place of Pure Awareness, that place of Nothing where emotions melt to nothingness and the feeling of peace melts through a person’s entire being.
So at the start of my homeward journey, when I saw an Oregon policeman with his radar-gun, I immediately noticed how the sight made my heart jump. That jumping heart took me out of my peaceful state as I felt the anxious emotion of fear. I was driving just five miles over the speed limit, but still my heart jumped. Thanks to my previous days of working with patients, I was really aware of this emotion, and decided to see if it would neutralize.
The term for neutralizing a memory is called reconsolidation. In reconsolidation, you bring up an issue – either physical or emotional or a memory, and then pay attention to it while in a peaceful affirming environment. Physically, the peaceful environment provides a new peptide chemistry that influences the old issue. This dynamic provides one explanation for how people can use EFT or other energy processes to quickly overcome longstanding issues or pains.
So… racing heart – my physical reaction. Paying attention. I always get a reaction when I see police. Memory – I got a speeding ticket when I was on a family vacation, just one week after I got my license at the age of sixteen. Ever since then, that memory comes up if I pass a police while driving at or above the speed limit.
So… I did for myself what I had been showing patients for the previous two days.
- I brought up these memories and paid attention to the emotions, letting the intensity rise up as much as it would.
- Then I simply paid attention to my thoughts, not doing anything with them, but just being aware of the thoughts. Pretty soon the thoughts slowed, and then they stopped. At that point I became aware of the blank space between thoughts and the complete absence of the previous emotions.
- I allowed myself to remain in that state for a bit, knowing that in the process new peptides of peacefulness were replacing the old peptides of fear.
- After a few moments I again turned my attention to police and radar guns, and specifically to the memory of getting a ticket at age 16. I found that I could remain in the blank space without any of the anxiety returning.
- If anxiety had returned I would have just cycled back and forth, back to the blank space for a bit, then out again to the memory to check out the intensity. Like a wave on a beach, when I’m doing this work with others, we just cycle back and forth with the wave until the old memory is reconsolidated without remaining emotional intensity.
Less than an hour later I was pulled over for speeding – the first time since that ticket back at the age of 16! And I had just reconsolidated that memory! I had a strong feeling of disbelief as I slowed my car and pulled it over on the downhill side of Satis pass.
I was going 64 to 68 mph in a 60 mile per hour zone over the pass in southern Washington. That wouldn’t normally have been cause for a pullover except that I had just passed a Suburban that turned out to be the most unmarked police vehicle ever. Paint was pure white, looking exactly like a regular ‘burb. Even his flashing lights were concealed underneath the grille of the Suburban.
So, what are the chances that a person would do the work of coming to terms with an old memory, and then get pulled over just an hour later? Crazy. Surreal even. This felt like more than a coincidence – maybe there was some meaning here for me. My heart rate was back up again for sure. While the officer checked my license and insurance from his computer, I paid attention to my heart rate, fiddled with the nothing-space, observed my heart returning to normal. I thought about getting a ticket and realized I would be fine, whether I got a ticket or I didn’t get a ticket – that was sure a different feeling compared to the anxiety I normally would feel for something like this. I sat there waiting, in the place of pure awareness, just like I had an hour before when I slowed for the radar gun in Oregon.
It seemed a long time later before this officer finally got out of his car and walked up to mine. His hand was outstretched with my license and registration papers.
“Lars,” he told me, “Slow down.”
The inflection in his voice wasn’t anger or command, it came off more like “Lars, why were you speeding? You’re an idiot for speeding. There’s no reason to rush.”
As I pulled back onto the highway my head was filled with two words – SLOW DOWN. They were ringing throughout my being – as if delivered via a carefully orchestrated surreal occurence that had just happened to me. I felt a message about much more than my foot pressing on the accelerator. SLOW DOWN. Four hours later I was home, back to my familiar world after 6 hours in a place of Pure Awareness, where even unmarked cars and law officers were mixing into my experience. SLOW DOWN.
It is almost a week now since SLOW DOWN happened – I am still under the influence of those two words – staying curious about their gift to me.