by Katherine Willow, ND
It’s Monday afternoon, verging on the witching hour. My adrenals want a break during this natural low in the day. Not coffee, not sugar and not a cocktail — a rest. So I decide to lay down for 15 minutes and do my ‘corpse pose’.
It’s much better than the sudoku puzzles I often do to “relax”. Lying down with eyes closed (saving immeasurable brain activity), arms and legs spread out, letting go into the waves of the breath.
Except that thinking about waves snaps the image of a shark into my still-jangly mind. It’s one of my terrors. My PSTD (post traumatic stress disorder, the still-unhealed-part of me on constant danger alert) starts creating disasters to match the chronic anxiety I’ve held for decades. It’s actually a very common response, we’re still well-wired into the oldest part of our brain which responds to perceived threats. And it takes practice to go beyond that for most of us.
It’s a lot better than it used to be though, now I just ignore the visions and go back to my breath, knowing that eventually my mind will settle, the body will soften and the wonderful feeling of tension release will spread. At this point I fall asleep for a few minutes, as usual, which is great, it means the pose was successful and will give me up to three hours of refreshed energy. It wasn’t always so, it took me two years to learn this skill.
I’ve noticed that when I try to plough through the day without recharging my nervous system, my mind gets slower and slower until it’s so inefficient I’ve wasted much more time than I would have spent in resting! And yet I still resist. Getting through the inevitable frightening images at the start is unpleasant. It’s like not wanting to exercise even though one feels so much better afterward. At this point I manage to do it about twice a week.
That’s it for my brief personal blogging in this issue. It’s time to have dinner with my family, my elder daughter Sarala visiting from Montreal, Coral home from a long day at school, our delightful new assistant Anu who is cooking while the girls play with grandson Felix. It feels comfortable even though much of my paperwork is still waiting to be done. I know my brain will be up to it after dinner. Maybe in writing this, I will be more conscious of consistently practicing what I preach and remember to rest more often!
Here’s wishing you a relaxing Christmas season, hoping you also find time to rest in the midst of the pressure to perform, buy and consume. If you want to experience quieting and recharging the mind, consider joining us for the next wellness retreat at the end of January which focusses on meditation with a lovely schedule of classes (read the post about it). We are pleased to introduce a Christian element this year in the person of Father Jack Lau, spiritual director of Galilee Mission in Arnprior, and a beautiful presence.
Take care and I enjoy receiving your comments,