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.
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…)
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.
[ PLASTIC ] our brains our plastic. Changeable. Adaptable. Capable of learning new things even at old ages. At the beginning of each month I practice being plastic by doing something common with my non dominant hand until it integrates. Last month, I unlocked doors with my left hand. (easier said than done ). Before that I dressed my left side first. This month, brushing my teeth with my weak, uncoordinated left hand. Day 7 and I’m finally not shaking my head and actually moving my hand instead. You only get one brain, use it. All of it. Link in bio for a brainy blog to unlock your #patternsofpotential and #brainplasticity
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
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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