Have you ever felt a blissful state, as if every atom in the body works in unison to support you as you go about your day?
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Mind to Support Body
The opposite is also true. Our thoughts and emotions have a direct impact on the biochemistry inside the body. Based on how the mind is going to categorize what is in front of us, it will initiate a cascade of processes inside the body to match up that input. We usually do not realize how important it is for our overall health and well-being. Just to recall not far ago the coronavirus pandemic and fact that the second highest risk factor for its deaths was stress, after obesity.
We do not realize also, that the way we receive and process all the information from outer world is entirely in our hands. It is up to you how you want to perceive what is out there!
Your perception matters. The good news is that no matter what, you can always change and enrich the way you experience yourself!
Autonomic Nervous System
It is all down to our ANS. It consists of two sympathetic (fight of flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) modes. Only one can be used at the time - think of it as an accelerator and brake pedals respectively. Although it is called autonomic as it refers to being beyond our conscious control, it is not only my opinion it is in our hands how we program that supercomputer - the brain, and teach it what it is perceived as a danger, and what is just a lesson or challenge to become better and more resilient! We now know about the process of neuroplasticity, which only confirms that.
I lived long months in fear which turned into anxiety and panic attacks later on. I was fighting or fleeing during the day, my bed was the safest place - so somehow I managed to sleep.
This is how I programmed my brain. If you want to see the danger in every corner, you will soon experience that! I just did not know how to deal with my conditions at that time. I did not know I had a choice…
The truth is you can choose how you want to experience yourself in every moment. We have this mind tool to be used. It does not need to be just a reflection of this 2 millions years old survival based mechanism built in the brain which is constantly scanning for danger. By simply shifting the focus out of the trigger (usually a thought, belief, story) and placing attention into your inner experience you can change the game anytime!
Example? Play your favorite song when you are upset…
I do not need to ask the question how you want to feel right now? It is obvious. But daily practices are needed indeed to ensure you are supported correctly. By using your mind for you we can rewire that brain!
Hope you by now are now more interested in influencing and enhancing that computer as well - to be aware, to be present and to choose where you want to be! How does it sound for you?
There are many tools to do it. My daily rituals include meditation, heart coherence, visioning, and breathwork just to name a few.
No Pain, No Gain???
Now it is also important to understand that sympathetic mode isn’t inherently bad. It is here for a reason - we need that alertness and readiness too. The question is only to what extent? Knowing how skillful using it so it works for you and also knowing the limit. Like exercising for instance - staying for too long in the gym or running can be actually very counter beneficial.
I would say as long as you experience joy while doing it - you are fine. But then too much fight and too much flight will be associated with prolonged releasing cortisol will start to break down eventually this hard gain muscles tissue for energy in the process of gluconeogenesis.
This is yet again just another example of infinite body wisdom to keep you alive as it does not calculate why you are running, it is there to make sure you run fast so it helps you to lose that ballast fast (also muscles are the greater energy consumers).
Your mood literally determines what would be the outcome of the workout! Speaking of which, I see many people exercising as if they beat themselves up, maybe even suffering. I am not so sure whether the slogan “no pain, no gain” is still up to date!
Everything is a matter of balance and the body constantly sends feedback to us!
Now, as it is an autonomic nervous system now the problem is that we are usually not aware how much time we spend in each of those modes, and there is so much going on throughout the day, so how can we know?
We can obviously sense how we feel about the day but from my experience what the mind wants and what the body needs are usually two different things.
Listen to Your Heart!
There are many phenomena about the heart, including the recent discovery about its own nervous system which scientists call “heart brain" (link to Heart Math amazing free program if you want to learn more about power of the heart and how to use it you will find at the bottom). But I would like to focus here on a particular one called HRV (heart rate variability). It seems that it is possible now to translate what the heart is telling us.
What HRV measures are the changes in the intervals between consecutive heartbeats, and those variations are controlled by ANS.
This marker is considered to be a valuable indicator between two branches of ANS. Higher HRV is associated with higher parasympathetic activity, better cardiovascular health and greater resilience to stress. It indicates that the heart is able to adjust the rhythm and its beat rate in response to different stressors/triggers.
Lower HRV, when heart rate beats more rhythmically, indicates that the sympathetic nervous system is in charge, which is obvious during exercising but not necessarily how the body responds to the stressors the following night for its successful or not recovery.
That is why before my high intensity day of training I check in the morning what my heart has to say about it, and then if HRV is higher I attack my day as planned. If it is low, I prioritize rest.
What helps me to read body signals is my Oura ring which apart from “heart translator” also measures body temperature in the night, plus has everything that today's tracker needs to have. That requires just a little investment of time to monitor daily, but it's well worth checking. This device absolutely has changed my life. There is no guessing anymore but real data which transform the language your body communicates in digits which helps to optimize my performance and show up at my best everyday!
Happy Discoveries <3
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Heart Math Experience Link - I highly recommend to sign up and watch it for - empowering knowledge with techniques for free! https://www.heartmath.com/experience