So very many of us are feeling jangled, jarred and jiggled these days. We’ve fear running amok in our veins at times. We’re scared of covid or vaccine mandates. We’re nervous about our health, our money, our mental health, our jobs, politicians, you name it.
Our nervous systems are–frankly–nervous.
You know about the flight or fight response of the sympathetic nervous system, right? The body senses dangers and prepares to flee or confront. This ingenious system actually helps our survival during times of danger. But these days it can be threatened by, say, too much time on social media, reading the morning news, hearing that your friend’s brother died of covid, arguing with your sister about politics, hey, just name it–our collective nervous systems can be pretty much on high-maintenance survival mode these days.
About a year ago I studied about the nervous system (Polyvagal theory) with Deb Dana. She speaks about learning to befriend this integral system within. I wrote a blog about it last October called What does “Oh No, where did my purse go?” have to do with spirituality?
Then I moved on to other studies, keeping in mind the gifts and challenges of our nervous system, but really not thinking much more about it.
But lately it’s come full circle, as things often do. I am thinking a LOT about our nervous systems and the importance of calming them.
Calm, calm, oh you darling, calm
What soothes us? What jars us? Does the photo of the deer skull upset you? Or is it strangely calming as the earth cradles the doe in death? Exactly how do we learn to regulate our nervous system so we’re not in high alert 24/7?
I think the answer is different for each of us in our unique bodies. The answer is even different at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. It’s an ever changing recognition of what is upsetting our system and what is inspiring it.
A little upset can even be good for us because change may threaten to disturb our entire world–yet change may be what’s called for next.
Something that has eased my nervous system, slowly, slowly, over the past several years is learning how to be with pain, anxiety, sadness. Whenever one of these visitors appear I am more often able to sit with the emotion and allow it to be here. To see it from the perspective of the witness, or a larger awareness. To slowly, slowly sense a greater love that surrounds and melts the triggered system.
This love is stronger than the contraction, a gentle kind of strong, a sweet embrace of strong.
I am struggling to say this–a calm nervous system can allow hurt to arise and nurture it. We can learn to be the mother of what aches, what doesn’t feel right. We can be the mother of our fears and traumas.
The times we reach for excessive cookies, coffee, email, Facebook, Instagram, cell phone, beer, wine, TV–you name it–is often our body trying to desperately calm something else brewing in our system.
It seems to be about discovering an endless well of love that shines deep within us. Has always shined deep within. And this love allows the whole universe to arise within and as it.
A few days ago I wrote of a lupine blooming out of season. It is STILL blooming on November 10th after heavy frost and snow.
The miracle of this blooming is like the miracle of the nervous system. It can be befriended. Trauma and everyday rhythms of sadness can be enveloped and calmed. Sometimes we need helping in learning to soothe these bodies. It’s not a project for the short-haul; in fact I think it’s a lifetime endeavor of learning to be exquisitely kind to ourselves.
We can be oh so kind to our human bodies, oh so kind. We can call them “darling” and soothe them in their tight spots, their aches, their grief, their utter rawness.
Meditation is one of the tools that can help us discover the calm within. Just beneath the clatter of the mind and emotions lies this endless pool of relaxation. This calm is always present. That’s what we forget when we become too immersed in our inner thoughts and beliefs and struggles.
What tools do you use to find calm and soothe the nervous system?