Okay, so it’s not an actual physical location, but this is still the key to kick-starting any & all healing:
Your parasympathetic nervous system.
Let me give you a quick science lesson for some context:
We can divide your nervous system into two basic branches: the things under your control, and the things that are automatic.
The automatic part of your nervous system controls things like heart rate, blood pressure, the size of your pupils, breathing, blinking, digestion, etc., and it functions on a spectrum.
– At one end of the spectrum is your sympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as your “fight or flight” response
– At the other end is your parasympathetic nervous system, the “rest and digest” side of the coin
Your parasympathetic nervous system is where ALL HEALING TAKES PLACE.
The more stress you’re under, the more your body functions in sympathetic mode.
The more your body leans toward sympathetic, the more limited your parasympathetic nervous system is – and therefore, the more limited your innate healing ability is!!
This means that when you are in a state of constant (or near-constant) stress, your body literally cannot heal!
When they say stress is bad for you, THIS IS WHAT THEY MEAN, Y’ALL!
Living in a chronic state of sympathetic nervous system activation (aka fight or flight) keeps your body in a constant state of panic – it’s so busy trying to survive, there’s no time to repair damages done.
But don’t worry – there’s good news!
There are practices that you can incorporate into your everyday routine that will help retrain your nervous system and, over time, help balance your stress response.
For practical purposes – that means that next time you get cut off in traffic, or your work deadline gets bumped up to tomorrow morning, or you spin around holding a giant pitcher full of grape juice, trip over the cat, and proceed to spill it all over the kitchen floor, the cabinets, and the baby (or… ahem… whatever happens in your house…), you’ll better able to handle that stress, and respond to it mindfully, instead of becoming a frazzled anxious mess.
I’ll touch more on how to get into parasympathetic mode in future blog posts. For now, I’m just going to leave you with the simplest of strategies, deep breathing. Go ahead, take a moment right now and do this:
- Sit up straight and get comfortable
- Close your eyes and take a moment to center yourself
- Inhale deeply through your nose to a count of 6
- As you inhale, your chest should expand; Breathe down into the bottom of your lungs
- Exhale deeply through your nose to a count of 6
- Repeat until you feel an inner calm (that calm is your parasympathetic system in full swing!)