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Living Beyond the Surface

in YogaDork Ed

by Baylea Micheli

Since most of our lives are now spent entertaining external experiences, we’ve grown accustomed to living life on the surface. In the process of moving forward, we ignore symptoms of pain, suppress longings and become tolerable of dysfunction. Experiencing life like this results in an ignorance of what’s going on underneath the surface of our skin. Only when we are struck with halting pain or sickness do we begin to question, “Why do I feel like this?” “What needs to change in order to feel better?”

In his book Spark, author John Ratey M.D., characterizes “self-regulation [as] a resource that can be depleted but also recharged like a muscle.” Unable to influence the surrounding environment, your nervous system depends on you to give it what it needs and to recharge it when it is depleted. Your response-ability is determined by your willingness to accept responsibility in hearing, using and soothing your central nervous system accordingly. Setting the tone, your preferences hold within them the subtleties of your needs, you just have to be willing to communicate.

Hear It

Be sure to regularly “listen-in” and get a baseline of the current signals reverberating within. This kind of hearing requires guilt-free listening; don’t try to fix, control or demean what you hear, just notice it. This is purely a practice of perceiving the subtle voices of sensation and simply sorting them by noticed or unnoticed. If you find you’ve become disconnected, the following listen-in prompts will tune your sensory-ear and set the tone for further coalescence. Start by stopping. Literally pause. Sit or lie down comfortably so that your breath is not obstructed.

  • Mental Listen-in: After three breaths, choose one word to describe your mental landscape? (Example: chaotic, peaceful, distracted)
  • Physical Listen-in: Where do I feel sensation in my body? (Example: tingling in toe, pain in shoulder, stretch in legs, release in hands)
  • Emotional Listen-in: How do I relate to that sensation? (Example: It is good or bad to me because…)

Use It

Variety is the spice of life and the preference of an actively-aging nervous system. Novelty opens the flood gates of your nervous systems’ perception by using more of your parts to problem solve, adapt and call on different skills. If you find your experiences to be bland, consider trying something new.

Once a day try something new: This could be a new approach to a pose, a different breathing pattern or even adding feedback through weight, resistance or pressure. You could take a new route home from work. Or use your non-dominant hand for every day dominate-hand-tasks like brushing your teeth or eating.

Soothe It

Fatigue, overwhelm and pain are common signals your nervous system sends just to get your attention. Avoiding and neglecting to soothe these signals is not a benign approach. In the language of your nervous system, comfort happens though sensation not words. Sometimes soothing means self-care and quiet actions, and sometimes it means seeking energizing inputs in order to restore harmony in the sensory world.

  • Soothing things: calming breathing exercises, literally getting quiet or still, sustained compression (lying still and breathing) with a therapy ball, or tension release techniques.
  • Seeking things: whole-body movement like walking, swinging, dancing, jumping, outdoor exploration or play in various textures.
image credit: Paul Morris

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Baylea Micheli is a student and teacher of mindful movement. Her classes are inspired by her own self inquiry and fascination with the human body and its resilient host, the individual. Teaching as a 200-hr RYT since 2009 and becoming a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant in 2014 has propelled her down a path of empowering individuals to restore the relationship with their bodies. Baylea’s intention is to awaken individuals to the reality of functional and sustainable movement as a foundation to overall health and well-being. 

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8 comments… add one
  • Wonderful post. Thank you.

  • The most of spends their experience in entertainment. The life to meet the surface and process of fast to move the next part. Our skin is changed for nature of climate and ages. If you are keep yoga daily means reduce your problems in body and feel fresh for every day. The muscle to be strong and solve your sickness. The surrounding environments is getting more nervous and pollution also. You can feel free for listening the music and prevent the stress also. Control your emotions and get satisfied what we are getting. So many exercise are available for different types of problems in their body. You can learn from particular teacher

  • Wow! what an insight….we have become so accustomed to ignoring our inner world that even wrong doesn’t seem wrong anymore
    Thank you for sharing

  • This is great read! Thank you for sharing!
    -Kiki

  • Thanks for sharing this distinct read. Its an amazing experience reading this insight.

  • Very informative article. Thank you!

  • Very nice post, thanks Baylea. I really like the simplicity of checking in and finding one word to describe our experience. Fantastic also doing one new thing a day – it gives rise to a much more playful approach to life. For me, bouncing and shaking are also ways of seeking things through whole body experience. I also like to lie down on the ground for five or 10 minutes and tune into my inner landscape. Here’s my guided “getting in touch” meditation: https://www.zenyoga-berlin.de/blog/getting-in-touch/. Let me know what you think! Greetings from Berlin 🙂

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