We ask someone how they are and they respond “Busy!” or “I’m so stressed and busy these days I feel like I never have a moment to breathe.” I have a friend who likes to re-frame this by responding “Life is full these days.” Our nervous system helpfully revs up to meet the demands of our lives. This is functional to respond to a crisis. Our system isn’t designed to be “on” 24/7. We’re exhausting our resources.
Many of us experience an underlying reluctance to rest. We know we will feel better if we do. But we glance at the time then let yet another Netflix episode start. We open up Facebook “just to check”and fall down the rabbit role for 2 hours. I work with many people who have trouble falling asleep at night or, like me at times, putting ourselves to bed when we’re tired. We get into a mode of “can’t stop”.
There are many factors at play. Some are underground, like a core deficiency story of “I’m not good enough” that drives us to work longer hours. Unhealed trauma leads to hyper-vigilance where we are unable to completely let our guard down and relax. We might go from red-alert to yellow but never to green. Our habits and “usual” state also create momentum.
We don’t go from being jacked up to relaxed. It doesn’t work that way. Here’s a simple example: notice the muscles in your forehead and allow them to soften. Soften from the center of your eyebrows out to the edges. Take a few deep breaths while allowing your whole forehead to relax. There is a subtle deepening of relaxation over a minute as we focus and allow our muscles to soften.
A regular practice of resting and mindfulness allows us to become familiar with our system and deeply friendly within. Our bodies aren’t something separate that can be pushed to the background while we follow compulsions of the mind and restlessness in the nervous system. We are one integrated whole. Resting helps us realize and accept that.
Try this guided practice Rest and Breathe
or one of the many relaxation practices here.