I started this comment thinking about the holidays, but given the election, whatever your views, it's worth considering how we can step into a space of compassion and understanding instead of a defended, contracted state.
I was just visiting a Feldenkrais training where the trainer, Deborah Bowes, said, "If you can track it, you can change it." It struck me as profound and useful as we ramp up to another holiday season after a stressful election cycle.
If you think of how big data operates, it's all about the tracking. Algorithms change based on minute tracking of consumer behavior. Amazon tweaks your ads, dating sites tweak your filters.
We, too, can track information and make tweaks in our nervous systems that make a difference. We take information in, and based on that, change the output. But we have to be tracking. Picasso said, "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." I say, "Connection exists, but it has to find you sensing."
Whether stress is from the election or due to the holiday season, coping with stress is a huge factor in our lives. The American Psychological Association reports that 69 percent of people are stressed about a lack of time and money around the holidays.
- 68% of people stress about crowds and long lines
- 37% worry about gaining weight
- 37% worry about debt
- 25% worry about traveling
Luckily, only 15% worry about "having to be nice." Googling "holidays and stress" yielded 59 million results. Although, on the plus side, "holidays and joy" got 80 million.
How to Cope
The important point is, how can we cope? Using the breath is a good way. As you are sitting here now, lengthen the exhalation a little bit. Just exaggerate it. This can help activate the parasympathetic state.
You can also squeeze your eyes shut ten times very powerfully, as if you're trying to push the eyes back into the sockets. This cleanses the eyeballs and helps change the muscle tension around the eyes. We can become so focused that we can forget to look around us.
It also helps to sense the bones, remembering you have bones that hold you up, even in the most emotional of states. I had a difficult conversation with someone and in the background I kept saying, "My bones will hold me up. I will not collapse." It helped me to remember that.
While these small things help, it helps more to get on the floor and do a whole lesson. This changes your state on a more profound level. My suggestion is to do a jaw lesson. This helps us contact our ability to communicate, quite literally. It allows us to inhabit in a space of choice and ease instead of resistance and tension.
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I recommend this one on the jaw and the eyes. It is in two parts. Buy the whole series here.