In survival mode, people are often grasping for control, certainty and routine. It can be associated with feeling busyness and anxiety. Survival mode keeps perception in the short term, the nervous system is primed to absorb a lot of information quickly for your protection. In this mode life tends to close in, the busyness becomes all consuming and all important, things like health and well-being are not prioritised. When this mode is active for long periods people notice fatigue, poor memory, mental and physical illness. Our nervous systems are not designed to be in survival mode all the time.
When life closes in like this it can be very difficult to see beyond the near term.
Meditation gives you the ability to recognise when this mode is active and the reflective space to observe the reasons your mind, body and nervous system remain in this mode. When in this survival mode, making time for meditation can feel like the last thing you want to do.
However, as the Zen proverb goes “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”
Cultivating the ability to transcend these instinctive states has been a key purpose of meditation for millennia. Acknowledging that the brain is primarily concerned with survival and protection helps you appreciate it will be much more attracted to busyness unless you start attracting it to calm. Meditation creates feelings of calm and safety amid chaos and gives you distance from your thoughts/feelings/emotions so they are less overwhelming. It is when this viewpoint of safety is cultivated your nervous system will allow you to move out of survival mode.
Find that 20 minutes a day to tell your nervous system you are safe and start attracting your mind towards calm.