I often wonder about the balance between talking about my own healing journey and just getting to the point. My journey is different than yours after all. But as I read my original opening paragraph of this post, I was like, “Yawn.” All solid information, but it didn’t exactly tug at my heartstrings or create a spark of hope.
So here goes . . . I’m offering my story for context, and then mostly about you.
My physical health has always been pretty good. I chalk this up to being relatively on my own as a kid and free to roam in the woods and keep spinning out the energy created by a stressful home life. From intense dance training, I have a long history of injury, joint instability and low back discomfort. None of these limit me or bother me now because my personal Feldenkrais practice works. (remember – our bodies are not machines!)
But what dogged me for years was stress, anxiety and persistent low level depression. If you know me peripherally, this mght surprise you. If you know me more, then you know this.
Maybe this will sound familiar to you—
I was dedicated to getting the help I needed for my own sake and for the people in my life—therapy, meditation, eating well. After all, nobody likes feeling cruddy. But there was something that I just couldn’t get to, something that didn’t resolve in spite of my best efforts. And I thought there must be something seriously flawed with me as a person.
It wasn’t until I took a class on nervous system healing and regulation that a light went on. I learned about the physiological changes that take place when we are exposed to traumatic events, live with chronic threat or long-term stress or when our primary caregivers are not prepared to provide stable social connection.
Our nervous systems become dysregulated in a variety of ways such that we end up living in fight-or-flight, or when our system can no longer process the threat—shutdown.
The condition of our nervous system is conducive to either health or disarray—both physical and psychological. These nervous system responses become part of how we operate.
Maybe you and I are similar in this way.
You may be a person who has tried every improvement for wellness. You’ve dedicated yourself to eating well, getting exercise, quieting your mind and improving your relationships.
Yet many of us still struggle with maintaining the change we seek, whether it’s
- Chronic anxiety,
- chronic pain that no traditional approach has helped,
- Shortness of breath that no one can figure out
Or maybe you feel disconnected from your body in a way that no amount of exercise seems to fix.
When traditional solutions don’t work, some providers send you the unspoken message, that the problem is with you.
This takes a toll on your health and dignity.
Being able to regulate our nervous systems is the first order of healing. It’s a big body of work, and it gives you hope to know that there is nothing inherently “wrong” with you, and there is much to be hopeful about.
Most importantly, it’s a body of work that you have a say in—strategies you can always return to when life gets life-y.
A big part of nervous system regulation is returning to healthy, natural breathing. We live in a culture where dysfunctional breathing, in the form of overbreathing is common. It contributes to a cascade of health and psychological issues.
I’m not talking about beath WORK. For many people who enter breath practices without education, current trendy breathwork protocols can create more physical and psychological stress, even though you thought you were doing something helpful.
What we need is more education, self-awareness and gentle practice.
Becoming reacquainted with your natural breath is not a quick fix, but it is the foundation for nervous system regulation, which determines everything else that happens in your body. When you breathe better, you create a foundation for change, change that is incremental, that you are in charge of, that creates choices and pacing appropriate and compassionate to you.
You breathe about 17 thousand times per day and some ways of breathing are way better than others. It’s important for all of us, but especially for people who struggle with mysterious chronic challenges, both physical and emotional.
Please join me for an online one-hour breathing overview on Weds, July 20th at 7pm. This information is something everyone should know. Click here to learn more.
Sending love ~