I can recall in an instant what it felt like when I was in a car accident just about this time two years ago. As I think about it my breath becomes short, my heart rate increases a little, I get emotional, my body tenses up almost like I’m experiencing the impact all over again. In fact just seeing a ‘deer crossing’ sign still brings about this response in my body.
I can also imagine another experience. At the same time two summers ago, I was with a group of friends… enjoying days in the sunshine, swimming in the river after a most nourishing lunch. What I notice in my body when I think about this experience is the opposite to what’s described above. Ease of breath, smiling, relaxed, heart slow and feeling all warm and fuzzy.
This happens even as I IMAGINE these two contrasting events. Interesting how my body responds and my actual physiology changes. My breath, heart rate, blood pressure, emotions, etc.
Consider how your physiology might change through the day due to various experiences, thoughts, emotions, conversations, demands that make up your daily routine.
Our body, brain, nervous system is so wise. It helps us to navigate the world around us, keeps us safe and alive, regulates all the systems within our selves. Takes in information external to us through our senses, responds to all the internal information received in our body at the same time. A rather smart organism. I am most grateful that it does all of this automatically that I don’t even have to think about it. Nope. I don’t have to remember to breathe, or make my heart pump somehow, or organize the digestion of my food.
But this not thinking about it, not noticing, or paying attention might not always be helpful.
For instance, if I ignore the fact that I’m really thirsty on these hot summer days we’ve been having where I live, I might become dehydrated. Or if I don’t pay attention to the sensations that tell me it’s time to rest, I may become over tired and become careless, not able to learn, deplete my body’s innate need to rest and replenish all these wondrous systems.
I may not notice a stress response I seem to be ‘in’ all the time. I might not easily move into a different one (parasympathetic response) one where I can rest, sleep, where my heart rate and blood pressure lower, digest my food. I might have elevated stress hormones constantly floating around in my system, thinking it needs to help ‘fight and protect’ me from something. Inflammation might occur. And on, it goes.
Life is hard. Life is stressful. No doubt about it.
What might help is to learn to recognize the signals this wise body is giving us and responding some way. How we might move into action when needed, like if I am in a car accident or if I need to change my business model due to this pandemic we’re experiencing. Or how we might move into deep rest when needed. So we can sleep. Digest our food. Help influence or decrease inflammation. Navigate with some fluidity, between the two responses.
And how might a stress response, impact our experience of pain? Can we respond in some way when noticing this? Our response might be to change something. It may be to just notice. It might be to extend ourselves some compassion, knowing these are challenging times. The first step though, is the awareness that it’s happening at all. The listening in, paying attention.
Curious to explore this a little more? Might it be helpful to learn how you might have some influence over these systems?
Creating New Pathways: change your pain, change your life begins tomorrow. I would love to have you to join us.