Monday, September 20, 2010

The Tune-Up

Last night I was flopping around in bed like a tuna, unable to sleep. There I was in bed, it was dark and quiet and yet my body was humming and restless; I was in a state of agitation. For most people it seems to be the mind that is busy, but for me it is usually my body as a result of the physicality of my job. But then they are inexorably linked. We use both body and mind all day in our jobs, our relationships and in engaging the world, then we lie down at night and just expect them to shut off. But it sometimes isn’t that easy, especially if you spent the afternoon doing a bunch of deep back bends or pouring over important paperwork.

After about two hours of this, I finally got up, broke out my eye cover, considered doing head and shoulder stands but instead got back in bed and put on some really soft, sleep-inducing music. In my mind I began to observe my breath and count backwards from thirty to ten, counting only the exhales. Next thing I knew it was morning and the prism in my bedroom window was shining a rainbow throughout my room.

There are certain tricks that usually work for me, but isn’t it interesting that it took two hours before I employed them?! And that’s just it, we wait and wait when we know we should do something. The truth is we knew what to do long before and just had too much fear or laziness to respond. So we wait some more and then get frustrated and even more agitated with ourselves, the situation and sometimes those around us who have nothing at all to do with how we are feeling. By then it takes more effort to undo the stress that has now increased!

The reality is we have to start paying better attention before it gets to this heightened state. If we notice feeling ragged or run down, we have to respond. We can stop and take five deep breaths to reconnect with ourselves. We can make that phone call to the massage therapist that we keep meaning to make, go for a walk outside or write in a journal. Anything that will bring us back into connection with ourselves is going to help and to do it regularly is going to be even better.

The body is one of the best teachers for getting us to pay attention, when we feel pain or fatigue or a cold coming on, its the body trying to tell us that we are out of alignment somewhere, that we are disconnected from ourselves. When we start to pay more honest attention, then we step into an empowered state and out of the role of victim. We start to know who we are and what is best for us to do in any situation.

Recently a good friend taught me how to change the oil in my car. We made a day of it, going to the store to buy the oil and filter, driving my car up on the ramps, him instructing me about what to look for and to make it safe and efficient. It was so rewarding to learn how to work with this vehicle that I drive all over town every day and to know I can actually take care of it. But first we had to pop the hood! The body-mind is really no different, sometimes we have a stock pile of emotions and memories under the hood that agitate us to no end. Its no wonder we are too afraid or lazy to respond, not only is it a lot to process if it is stockpiled, most of us were also taught not to express our feelings or that it was bad, wrong or impolite to do so.

But, when we pay attention to our bodies and stop long enough to hear the voice in our hearts we get instant instructions to return to a state of truth, which will always feel at ease (at least once the emotion has subsided). The body and mind respond well to regular tune ups, practices like yoga, jogging or sitting down to meditate. When these become consistent in our lives the body will be more at ease and the mind will be less agitated.

Isn’t it time for a tune-up? Isn’t it time we all made the conscious choice to stay connected to our authenticity and take the time to pop the hood? I know you are worth it...

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