Find a way to lighten your load . . . naturally
The other day, I was driving
to work, running a little bit late, and that's the morning I-5 turned into
a parking lot. I was tense, feeling irritated at the driver in front of me
talking on his cell phone, too distracted to scoot his car forward like the
rest of us. Being late was one more rock in my backpack.
So I decided to take the opportunity to focus inward a bit while parked on the freeway.
My tight shoulders carried an invisible load. My breathing was shallow. I was leaning slightly forward in the seat ready to burst out of the starting gate, jaw was tight, eyes fixed and focused forward . . . not the energy I wanted to bring to the office with me.
Wanting to practice what I teach, I didn't try to force my body to relax. I did something very different. I just observed and let my body do what IT needed to do. The first thing that changed was my breathing. Without any direction, it deepened on its own. My shoulders dropped a tiny millimeter.
Rather than being hyper focused on the driver in front of me, I noticed my visual field open up. My tense leg wanted to floor the gas pedal to "get going," but as I simply observed, the tension started to soften. My breath deepened a little more. I noticed the trees dancing in the breeze, as if they had magically appeared on the side of the freeway. And then to my amazement the traffic started to move. Ahhhh. I felt lighter.
Just by observing my body rather than directing it, its organic wisdom blossomed. I arrived on time to work and in the "flow." I even had a little smile on my face, noticing the pink rhododendron blooming and the cutest little micro maple seeds decorating the bench in the atrium.
Take a few
rocks out of your backpack.
by Suzie Wolfer LCSW, SEP
Here are some steps you can use
to get back in the flow, and let overwhelm and tension find their way out of
your body. You can do this in just a few minutes, even at a stop light! Just
keep your eyes open!
Connecting with the Here and Now - Orientation
Listening to your body's language - sensation
New Pleasing Sensations
Alternate Noticing Pleasing and Other sensations
Taking it inside with words. Here's a lovely version of this process in first person written by Ann Weiser Cornell Ph.D. and Barbara McGavin
The science behind this is fascinating. When we are stuck, blocked or frustrated, or overly energized, the sympathetic nervous system provides us with the energy to change things . . . except when we can't. And then all the energy gets stuck in the nervous system.
When we observe the body, it's like sending a document to the printer. Instead of it being stuck in the printer cue and taking up space, the colorful documents pour out of the printer. Over a life time, we have 100s of documents stuck in the printer cue, waiting. We feel overwhelmed and all jammed up. But the good news: when we observe what's happening in the body, stuck energy starts moving again. Then you and your body can focus on life's pleasures.
That's when the parasympathetic nervous system comes alive:
The "rest and digest" functions of the parasympathetic nervous system support the body to return to Relaxed Readiness, or some people call this Easeful Readiness. And we don't have to do anything more than just observe and be curious to see what will happen next. It feels more alive and calm at the same time, and quite different then the excited / vigilant state so valued by our culture. And very different than feeling checked our or numb.
The only side effect is
well-being! . . . And a few more rocks out of your backpack.
Give us a call if you'd like a little gentle help removing some of the rocks from your backpack.