“I’ve been practicing mindfulness for years and it hasn’t really done anything for my sleep, so what’s the difference going to be with these practices?”
Last week after working with one of the nervous system rewiring practices I’d given him for a few weeks, one of my clients asked this really important question.
He said, “I’ve been practicing mindfullness for years, noticing my breath and all of that, so why would these awareness practices we’re doing make any difference when that never really did.”
(The practice was Instinctive Orienting BTW – one of the first most important practices I give to all my clients.)
This is such an important question, because Body Wisdom is actually NOT about mindfulness (per se).
It’s about BODY-fulness.
We can be very “mindful” – noticing our thoughts and learning to shift our state of mind through breathe and other practices.
And sometimes these practices CAN help us to be able to better cope in our lives.
And actually developing a strong, “Inner Witness,” or the ability to take a “step back” from the thick of our experience (emotions, sensations etc) and OBSERVE WITH CURIOSITY is a key step in Body Wisdom & Nervous System Rewiring work.
After all, if our thinking mind isn’t running wild and controlling the “show” of our lives anymore, if we have some control over the mind – which is a VERY powerful tool, then likely our lives will be more “under control.”
If we’re getting caught in the emotional washing machine with every thought and experience and have no ability to be curious about what is happening inside of us –if we’re totally invested in believing our thoughts – it makes it very difficult to do any work on ourselves of any sort at all period.
And when we can stop believing everything we think and start noticing our thoughts and getting curious, we start to get out of the metaphorical washing machine and have some control over our lives and circumstances.
HOWEVER – a controlled life does not necessarily equal a life of ease, connection with ourselves and others.
A controlled life doesn’t necessarily have room for deep joy – or deep grief.
And while we may be very comfortable avoiding deep emotions, such as grief and anger, what I’ve found is that in order to live a deeply happy life where TRUE freedom exists – something beyond control – real true freedom and deep connection to life – we must be connected somatically (to the body) and able to feel a full spectrum of emotions from deep grief to deep joy.
Emotion is just energy in motion, and if we can’t let it move it gets stuck and causes all kinds of problems.
But in order for emotion to move in a way that isn’t overwhelming, we need to be able to start to track and unwind emotion in the body.
Actually, all of our emotions actually have an energetic signature in the body which can be felt through the sensation in the body.
To unwind stuck emotion, we must feel it. Feeling is healing.
Sounds cliche but it’s true!
It’s good to have support to learn how to do this, because at first it can be overwhelming.
Or underwhelming – like numbness or a sense that you don’t really feel anything.
You can get through this and relearn how to feel & unwind emotion & sensation in a gentle, safe way with the right support.
Not only do we need to have body awareness/connection though, but we must also be connected to nature – or at the least to our external environment as it is in the present moment which probably at the very least includes pigeons and some dandelions growing up through sidewalk cracks even if we live in the inner city.
And sky. There is always the sky.
Humans are great too, if THEY have balanced (regulated) nervous systems themselves, which most people don’t!
Animals are the best. Nothing like a fuzzy snuggle from your dog or cat when you’re feeling overwhelmed 🙂
Here’s why we need that external world connection.
Our human nervous system is designed for connection.
It is designed to connect our toes to our eyeballs – so we can SEE if there is a sliver in our toe or if that weird pain is something else.
It’s designed to connect mom to baby and baby to mom. And friends to friends.
It is designed to connect our eyes (seeing), ears (hearing), nose (smell), mouth (taste), and skin (touch, including touch of the air/wind/clothing), to our central nervous system.
So we can know if we are safe or not.
Do I need to run from a tiger right now?
If we receive a giant unexpected bill, the “freak out” (stress) chemicals that get dumped into our system are telling us that we do.
By looking around and being connected to our environment and FEELING our body…we notice:
“Oh look, none of my limbs are hanging off or even bleeding at all, and there is no tiger in the room. In fact, even though I have no idea how I’m going to pay this bill, right now in this moment I am SAFE.”
In recognizing safety in the present moment, nervous system comes out of “fight or flight” response, and now we can actually use our clear thinking mind to strategize and we can benefit from our open relaxed energetic field to be available to a solution.
There may be possibilities and opportunities we have not noticed yet and we could not notice from a state of stress response/fight or flight (or freeze!)
When Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved with the same level of consciousness that created it,” I wonder if this was what he meant.
Even if we can’t solve all of our problems at once, when the nervous system is receiving signals that we are safe rather than signals to run from tigers, we will certainly sleep better and have much more balanced hormones.
That is what Body Wisdom & Nervous System Rewiring is all about – relearning how to listen to our bodies signals, and “harmonizing” what is happening in our bodies with what is happening in nature (external environment) so that we can begin to respond to what is actually happening in the PRESENT moment rather than perpetually responding to something that happened long ago in the past (trauma holding patterns) or over reacting to things that are happening in abstract reality which we may or may not have any control over (unexpected bills, etc).
I hope that is some food for thought! Please post your questions and comments in the comments section below – I love love love to hear from you 🙂