The Medicine (and the Challenge) of Quiet

Take a moment to lie down on your back....letting your whole body sink into the surface underneath...gradually give over everything that you hold, slowly peeling the layers of tension...surrender to the experience of stillness, slowly coming to a place of Quiet. What do you feel inside your body when you slow down and tune into yourself?

Just recently, as I did this very exercise and, as I began to let go of the tension I had been holding, I began to feel the heaviness of exhaustion and the buzzing of activity in my entire body...My exhaustion was so deep, I felt it in my bones. Like static electricity, the buzzing was the result of the imbalance I had not had neither the time nor the awareness to notice.

And yet there it body clearly communicating the activation of my nervous system...I caught myself wondering how long had my body been trying to release this activation. Have I gone too long without stopping and tuning into myself? Have I gone too long without releasing all the accumulations of daily life and my routine busyness?

I caught myself feeling somewhat daunted by the prospect of needing to move ALL THIS TIREDNESS, ALL THIS STATIC out of my body. "You don't have time for this," I heard the voice inside myself, "Do you know how long this would take?"

One of the consequences of living in the era of the stimulation overload is that IT TAKES MUCH LONGER to unwind, to soothe the nervous system and to drop into our bodies.

The activation is the physiological, sensory response to the demands in our environment. In other words, the more we have to contend with in our environment, the more demand there is on our body.

From orienting to the stimulus, to registering it in a particular way, to interpreting it, to responding and integrating-the demands on our systems are many and they require complex processes, which in turn require effort and energy.

We are flooded by the external stimuli on the daily basis, which is why finding ways to release layers of stress related to this kind of exposure is vital to our health and well-being.

However, stimulation can also be HEAVILY INTERNALLY-DRIVEN, meaning that the activation of the nervous system occurs in response to the internal stimuli.

Individuals who experience trauma, for example, often feel like they have to contend with the internal turmoil that is complex and multilayered. From managing sensory experiences to navigating perceptions of danger and subsequent fear or panic-trauma induces a survival state that often keeps the system running at a flight/fight (sympathetic nervous system) level until it eventually collapses.

It is essential that we recognize the difference because the externally-driven and the internally-driven activation.

The former has to do with the exposure to the demands in our outer environment (work demands, environmental toxins, parenting or caregiving responsibilities, relationship challenges and much more) and the latter has to do with the internal experience of the sensory and emotional flooding.

If you are someone who mainly navigates the externally-driven activation, then learning how to soothe and quiet your nervous system is a GOOD GOOD MEDICINE for you. The process is likely fairly straightforward and you can check out some of the concrete suggestions I have at the end of this post about ways to energetically de-clutter your system.

If you are someone who experiences trauma, then learning how to quiet your nervous system is also a GOOD GOOD MEDICINE for you. However, the process of getting there has to be TRAUMA-INFORMED and tailored to your specific needs.

Even without the presence of trauma or chronic stress, when we quiet our bodies after a full day, there are waves of activity and a steady flow of activation coursing through. There is often a deep ache and a sense of exhaustion from having to hold so much tension.

When I crave relaxation, but notice the thought of "this would take way too long" arise in my body, I often remind myself how wonderful the feeling of Quiet feels in my body, how pleasurable the slow untangling becomes once the static moves through and the gentle flow starts to rock me back and forth.

Many of us have learned to habituate and adjust to the heightened activation of the nervous system, which often shows up in our daily lives as a distinct experience of restlessness, agitation, and a sense that something is not quite right.

I believe that returning to our true Essence is a sacred task. To do that, we must learn to quiet our nervous systems. We must regain the experience of being in our bodies safety and joyfully, so that we can step into our lives more fully.

If you find yourself in a place of activation, there are things you can do. Because activation (whether it's externally-stimulated or internally-driven) is A SENSORY EXPERIENCE that can fell global and, therefore, quite overwhelming, it helps to LOCALIZE the sensation to make it more manageable.

For example, consider soaking your feet in a warm foot bath using aromatherapy oils or salts. This will help bring the energy down, which is GROUNDING, and will localize the sensation in one area of your body.

Grounding movement is another good option. Put on calming relaxing music and begin moving your body, focusing on one part of your body at a time, starting with your head, moving to your neck and shoulders, arms, spine and torso, then hips, legs and your feet...again, guiding the energy down.

Orienting to your environment by noticing 5 things you see (you can narrow the selection by choosing objects of one color), to noticing 5 sounds, then 5 internal sensations or feelings is another basic exercise for decreasing the sense of overwhelm that often comes when we feel everything all at once (i.e. there is a strong sensory activation).

I hope you have found this helpful and, until next time, take good care of yourself.


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