recalibrate: day 2
“We work so hard to get somewhere, to realize a dream, to arrive at some destination, that we often forget that though some satisfaction may be waiting at the end of our endurance and effort, there is great and irreplaceable aliveness in the steps along the way.”
― Mark Nepo
Hello everyone and welcome to day 2!
Yesterday, I invited you to start to let go of judgment, distraction, and expectation and begin directing your attention to your breath and the sensations in your body to keep you rooted in your present experience. We'll explore this more today.
But first, to really understand why yoga and meditation are so effective, it’s helpful to remember that, as humans, our most primal instinct is to survive. Our nervous system has a highly sophisticated response that kicks into gear as soon as a threat is perceived and begins an almost immediate cascade of events through the body: adrenaline and cortisol flood the body to increase the heart rate and blood pressure, blood flow is directed away from the internal organs, muscles tighten preparing the body to fight or flee. Everything that is not required immediately for survival - digestion, immunity, creative thinking - slows or stops completely while all the body’s resources are directed towards survival.
We often hear that stress is a bad thing. But in fact, in the short term, it’s incredibly beneficial - it’s why we’re alive today.
However, the key here is, “short term.” After the threat has passed, or after we have either flight or fled, and the nervous system perceives that we’re safe, the body gets a new cocktail of hormones - like serotonin and dopamine - that slow the heart rate, relax the body, direct blood flow back to the internal organs, and leave you feeling relaxed, calm and happy.
Unfortunately, our nervous systems can’t discern between the stress of being chased by a tiger and the stress of, say, opening up our inbox. They can’t tell the difference between the real physical threat of a tiger and the memory of or the thought of or memory of one. Our nervous systems have the same response whether we’re in the midst of a stressful situation or simply imagining or remembering one. This means that often, we never get a chance to enter that “rest and digest” state and rebalance the body and all of its systems.
The good news?
You have a lot more control over this than you may realize.
By becoming present with your experience, you can start to recognize when and where stress shows up. We can then assess the situation and determine whether the stress response is necessary and helpful and, if not, we can learn to change the program.
Remember, the mind cannot be in two places at once. If we are tuned into our direct experience then it’s very difficult to be worrying or ruminating at the same time.
Today, I'll invite you to focus on staying aware of your steady, balanced breath and the sensations in your body to keep you anchored in the present.
Whatever comes up - challenge, frustration, distraction, boredom - can you keep using your awareness on your breath and physical sensations to help you let go of your changing mental states and keep you anchored in presence, allowing you to drop deeper into your body - your home - and listen to the deep well of wisdom that lives there.
This morning, we will be focussing on the foundation of our bodies: our legs.
For this class, you’ll need:
a bit of space on a wall
a strap (a belt or scarf work too)
2 blocks (if you have them, otherwise a stack of books works great)
Today's Breathing + Guided Relaxation
The second practice today consists of an audio-guided breathing technique and a guided relaxation. The breathing is done seated (on the floor or in a chair, whatever you prefer) and the guided relaxation can be done laying down. You might even enjoy this one right before bed (or even in your bed as it will set you up nicely for sleep).
You can choose to either stream or download this audio file.
A few suggestions for the week:
As much as possible, be consistent. Try to do the practices at relatively the same time each day. As I mentioned yesterday, I suggest doing the movement practice first thing in the morning and the meditation practice last thing in the evening, to bookend the day. However, do what works for you! You can also do them all at once (movement then meditation), if that suits you better.
Set the space. Clear away any clutter that may distract you. Turn off your phone. Even something as simple as lighting a candle can help train the mind that it’s time to shift gears.
The more the merrier. Invite partners, kiddos, roommates to join in. If you make a household commitment for the week, it helps to stay accountable.
I hope you enjoy!
Any questions along the way, email anytime (by simply responding to this email).
Lots of love,