If we’re experiencing a daily dose of allostatic overload, run-of-the-mill stress – like a small burn while cooking dinner – can become a stick of dynamite. This in turn, results in responses like flare-ups of chronic pain, autoimmune or digestive disorders.
Bodies. We all have one but like a toothache, if you ignore it long enough it will go away. Learning to care for our bodies is increasingly more challenging as we sit in front of screens all day. Our bodies thrive on movement, love, sunshine, and whole foods.
While it’s hard to fathom pain, despair and trauma as blessings, there are gifts to be gleaned from having experienced them. For instance, some of the early lessons of the pandemic were an appreciation for a slower pace of life and spending more time in nature.
We cannot experience the full flavor of our embodied life without dipping into the depths of anger, sorrow, joy, fear, contentment, and all the other subtle and complex ranges of emotions that lie on the spectrum of life.
Stress is your body’s reaction to a trigger. It’s generally a short-term experience that can be either positive or negative. It can be positive, such as when you pull off a deadline. But when stress results in insomnia, poor concentration, and impaired ability, it’s negatively impacting your quality of life.
This life force is known by many names. The yogis call it prana and activate it through breath and postures. Acupuncturist call it qi and balance its movement through a network of pathways. Martial artists also call it chi and learn to cultivate its mastery through years of disciplined practice.
It’s common for trauma to get caught in body memories. This occurs unconsciously and is what makes survivors jumpy, dysregulated, or numbed out in ways they can’t explain. Mindfulness-based, embodied therapy involves tracking body memories as they reemerge in treatment.
The body conserves energy on an ongoing basis. Habits start out as intentional actions that are practiced enough times that they become automatic. Habituated actions consume very little energy. Whereas consciousness is consumes an extraordinary amount of energy. In other words, it’s metabolically expensive.
When we are disembodied, we live removed from the power and wisdom that comes from the body. Energy stagnates. Joints get sore and muscles turn slack from lack of use. The best to free ourselves from this trap is to engage our body and mind.
Nature balances growth with decay. Though the signals aren’t strong, they are there in our DNA waiting to take action. For the first three to four decades of our life, the growth phase dominates. But somewhere around our late forties and fifties the free ride of youth is over.
The more I practice, the more I realize yoga is quite possible the best therapy there is. Why? Because yoga works at both the subtle and the gross level, allowing the body and mind to soften. Additionally, yoga quiets the daily chatter of the mind.