Let's begin with a little, unscientific experiment...
Extend one of your arms out, so it's parallel to the floor. Keep the arm and fingers lengthened but not tense. Leave the arm suspended there for about 15 seconds. Like a curious scientist, observe what is happening. Do you notice any shaking or quivering in the fingers or any shaking in the arm?
If you not over caffeinated, sleep deprived, physical tense or have a busy mind, you likely won't see too much movement. This simple experiment can shed light on how agitated your peripheral nervous system is.
Your nervous system, which is part of your inner world, is an excellent indicator of your overall health. If you are not sensitive to how it's processing your outer world, how can it help you?
YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM
"The nervous system is the complex body system that most directly determines and organizes a person's reactions to the world in which he or she lives. If life is a symphony of activities, then the nervous system is the orchestra that makes it all happen. This system controls all of the adjustments people need to make in response to their environment. Without the nervous system and its conductor, the brain, people would not experience joy at seeing an old friend or automatically pull their hand away from a hot stove." (Humanillnesses.com)
FIGET ME THIS
When I sit in a cafe, I often notice people slumped over their electronic devices with one knee or foot rapidly moving up and down or side to side. This seemingly harmless movement of the body is a product of the nervous system and what is happening in the mind. The rapid action of the knee or foot might indicate some edginess in the body and mind. Unnecessary fidgeting is often an indicator of an overactive or even hyper nervous system. Even eyes darting around a room can be a sign of hyperactive nerves. These body movements create a more shallow breath and an elevated heart rate. This is telling your body that you are in a more fight or flight state, yet you're just sitting in a cafe. Where is the emergency?
TIME TO STOP THE WORLD
Can you see why stillness is so critical to connecting to your nervous system and maintaining a calm and steady body? It is likely you are in motion all day long. Rarely do we stop the body movement entirely. The nervous system never gets a break!
The Native American shaman Don Juan gives this advice, "in order to become a man of knowledge, you will first have to learn to stop the world." The drive toward stillness is the necessary step of the contemplative life.
If you want to go deeper and get in touch and control of your nervous system, you will have to bring the body to a complete stop. It's perhaps not the news you wish to read, but it's a crucial measure to have deeper control and relationship to the body. The practice of connecting to the body and mind (no matter what you are doing) is about heightening your sensitivity. Once you become hyper-aware inside, you are on the road to real discovery. Your inner scientist is born!
THE BOTTOM LINE: you can't hide from the nervous system. It permeates the entire body. But that is good news! It can give you ample wisdom and information about what is going on in your inner world every moment of the day.
If you are not currently practicing connecting to your nervous system, check out my FREE page on my website (www.2020yoga.com) and download one of the deep relaxation practices. Take a few minutes to cultivate a friendly, compassionate relationship with your nerves so they can give you the health you most desire. Yes? Yes!
Next post, I'll offer MORE tips on how to practice building an intimate relationship with your nervous system.
Chillaxingly yours, JOE