We hope the holiday season provided you downtime to experience some disengagement from the press and drive of life’s demands. We call this slowing the flywheel — that instrument within that spins and keeps the engine roaring and the wheels turning fast.
This is actually our autonomic nervous system at work, reacting to the pressures it perceives as danger by sending the signal to the body to release more stress hormones. This is to activate our defense system, get our dukes up, be ready to slay the dragon in its many forms. Day after day, year after year of this fuels the chronic stream of stress reactivity that wears down body and mind, reflecting in chronic symptoms: sleep disruption, mood dysregulation, fatigue, digestive symptoms and more. This is the Tyranny of Go — the press that insists we keep at it, and don’t let up, until the body says no.
The holiday season winds down. Most of us have returned to work. Are you among those feeling a tightening in the chest or belly that is a sign of the flywheel beginning to pick up speed again? After all, it is a deeply grooved pattern much easier to resume than to change. What options do we have when vacation is over?
We return to The Pause. This is a small break to purposely disengage the wheel for a minute or three. The Pause briefly denies the wheel its source of momentum, and provides the nervous system a queue of safety, which sends the Rest and Digest message out to body systems. When practiced regularly, this results in a rewiring of the underpinnings of the chronic stress pattern. We create new patterns for calm, ease, and healing.
1. Stop. Imagine your Pause button and hit it.
2. Bring attention into the body.
3. Notice. Make it the brief assignment of your attention to shift from Thinking into Notice body sensation mode. Some suggestions:
- Notice how your feet feel inside their shoes.
- Notice the seam of contact between your feet and the floor.
- Notice how your shoulders are feeling, and their set. Roll them a time or two to make them more noticeable.
- Notice how the weight of your head is balanced on your neck. Roll it a time or two and notice the sensation.
- Stand if doing so makes noticing the body’s sensations easier. Walk outside for a minute if you can and see if you can notice air on your chin.
4. Take 2 or 3 rounds of breath and focus attention on the sensation in the body – inhale, expand; exhale release. Make the breath a little deeper to make the sensation more noticeable.
You’ll likely have lots of thoughts crashing into your Pause. Normal. This is where ‘practice’ comes in — you’ll notice if you stick with it several times a day that your attention becomes more sensitive to body sensations, and easier to redirect. You are honing your Notice mode. This is a very positive development!
The poet Rilke is quoted as saying ‘And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.’ The Pause, practiced regularly, can slow the flywheel enough to release us from the Groundhog Day of habitual reactivity, and allow us to begin to experience the things that have never been. Our aim is to support and accompany you in the ongoing project of cultivating health and wellbeing, and help you minimize your vulnerability to the negatives abounding.