“We think of ourselves as deciding to grit it out, as resolving to exert willpower, often over the protests of an unwilling body. But, in fact, resilience is rooted in our awareness of the sensations that originate in our organs and extremities–and the more alert we are to these inner signals, the more resilient we are able to be in the face of life’s hardships.” – Annie Murphy Paul, The Extended Mind
Meditations can bring our awareness inside of ourselves or to something external to us. Either area of focus can be handy exercises in the right moments, depending on whether we are spinning in our heads or need to come back to our center.
Science tells us that the best time to meditate is not when it’s easy. Bringing mindfulness and perhaps even a pocket meditation for recentering to the situations when you are getting off-kilter, ungrounded, and upregulated are the moments that create more lasting change. According to Dr. Andrew Huberman, neuroscientist, and professor at Stanford, when we go against the grain of what our brain would normally do in any given moment, we’re pushing back against our normal neural network and can in turn push it in a more beneficial way to create more shift in brain states and brain circuitry. By creating those new circuits, we’re laying the tracks for those new pathways to become an easier response or choice in how we show up in challenging situations.
As we head into this time of year, the earth’s flora and fauna follow natural rhythms of slowing down, lying fallow, and resting up for a robust emergence months from now. All the while that happens underfoot, many of us dash to wrap up the year, feeling the stressors of workforce and recession fluctuations, and have our own variation on a theme of “big feelings, holiday edition.” Our equally wise animal bodies certainly have other messages for us this time of year.
How can we heed those instincts and intuitions, and offer ourselves the space and nourishment we need? How can we prioritize? How can we ask for help? Where do we need to establish boundaries? When can we be still long enough to find our center again, so we can choose how we want to meet life?
This week at Reboot HQ, we’ve got a guided meditation for you. As an offering from my colleague Chrystal Bell, we hope this might be a way to find some ground in your somatic self and be a path to return to your center in the days ahead (and any time it feels handy). We’ve also got a post on a simple micro-practice you can bring with you long past the wrap-up of Q4, while the world continues to feel like a lot, and we’ve all got our own set of burdens. May these help us breathe deeper and perhaps add lightness to our burdens.