Nourish Your Nervous System
In Buddhist writings I have seen this simple equation: Pain + Resistance = Suffering
When we are faced with an incredible amount of pain, which can be all that we do not want to accept as reality, and all that we worry could happen now and in the future, the inner being tends to resist. This resistance often takes the form of either up regulating your nervous system, or down regulating your nervous system. Both options mean not at home in the body.
When we leave “being at home with the body” we feel very restless and it can take the shape of all kinds of discordant feeling, thinking, and actions. It can also mean muscles gripping with that feeling of “taking the weight of the world on our shoulders” or low backs with ramped up pain. It also can mean gripped chests and shallow breathing. Couple that with limited ability to actually go out and engage in the world and connect in person to others, and we have a moment on our hands.
If you can actually convert the resistance to working with the moment, then we have a recipe to create momentum through which the body can move out of intense suffering.
Dr. Kristen Neff, in her work on self-compassion, describes the dissipation of emotion with a great analogy. She says it’s like a gas. If you allow the gas space it will naturally dissipate. If you try not to feel it, through the resistance, then it’s like bottling a gas. The pressure intensifies and it has nowhere to go.
I love using subtle movement to do this process of dissipation and presence. It’s like a loving, non-violent embrace of the being. You don’t need to force yourself to feel a different way. You don’t even need to force yourself to directly feel emotion. You can gently begin to be with yourself. You can.
I have created this very gentle 40 minute practice that anyone can do to assist you to be with yourself. If anything in the practice happens to hurt, please don’t do that part. The movements and sounds in the practice are a combination of things I have learned from mentors in polyvagal informed chiropractic care, with Dr. Jeff Rockwell, Hannah Somatics senior teacher Phil Shenk, and Continuum Movement senior instructor Beth Riley.
In the absence of being able to place our hands on others right now, this will really help you to find some space of ease inside of yourself. I have focused this practice mainly on the head and neck, as we look to “release the weight of the world” and breathe a little bit more with ease.
The more ease you can find and cultivate, the more you can also be someone who helps others to co-regulate. The more we do this, the more we can help provide a collective nervous system that is resilient and able to move through this time in the most constructive way possible.I hope this can be of benefit to you and others you know needing some assistance right now.