For the most part, these past few weeks have been so pretty. Blue skies, crisp air and spring unfolding so beautifully have been a welcome reminder that the world still turns. Being in a position to step outside to enjoy these simple but fundamental pleasures has been a comfort and a privilege for which I am truly grateful, but even so, I haven’t yet been able to settle into a consistently grounded way of living in our unexpectedly altered new world.
Sunday was not a nice day. Ferocious winds and teeming rain, and the accompanying ominously dark sky left me feeling quite untethered, unable to accomplish anything very much except the daily PE lesson (I don’t want to get into trouble for skipping that!) and checking in on several client friends to see how they are doing. Despite not setting foot outside the door, my Fitbit clocked up over 16,000 steps by dinnertime. Pacing much?
Knowing that if a client told me they were feeling this way, I would offer some techniques to help them regroup, it finally dawned on me that I needed to offer similar support to myself. I began with the most fundamental thing, the breath. Controled breathing is such a powerful tool that we can all easily learn to use to help the mind and body become less agitated. Square breathing is very one simple technique that calms and soothes – gently breathe in for a count of four, hold for four, exhale for four, hold for four and repeat. Allowing the mind’s eye to visualize moving around the four sides of a square as you breathe can help with focus. In addition, there are a couple of reflexology hand holds which encourage the nervous system and brain to come to a quieter place.
The reflexology points to the central nervous system run along the outside of the thumbs and the brain point is located at the tip. Just holding the thumbs is instantly soothing, it really doesn’t matter that much how, but most people find that one way feels more relaxing and instinctively more comforting than another, and that is how to choose the best way for you to receive the calming benefit. Babies and young children suck their thumbs instinctively to soothe themselves, and we can also calm the nervous system and bring balance and ease to the body by using this hold. In the Eastern system, the chi (energy) associated with left side of the body is yin, which is linked with worry emotionally, and the right side is yang, connected with anger. Perhaps feeling a preference for holding the thumbs in a certain way allows us to address an imbalance – for me the left is definitely the one I usually prefer to hold, suggesting I’m a worrier – no surprise there!. It feels good to sense the whole body respond to the rhythmic breathing as the points are held. After a few rounds, switch to working the reflexology point to the brain, by gently circling the thumb tips with the index finger of the same hand as you continue the breathing sequence.
After about 10/15 minutes of concentrated practice, the effect on my state of mind was profound and the physical sensation of agitation had eased. What took me so long to work on myself, I’m not sure, but I often tell clients that for me, my work is not about offering something to them, rather it is a practice of exchange, one of give and receive between us. When I am engaged in reflexology, a circuit is being connected and that connection helps me stay grounded and focused, despite my natural inclination towards anxiety and worry. In the current absence of that hands on contact and connection I have been feeling at sea, so it is not surprising that a stormy day would leave feeling even more unanchored. Strangely enough, soon after I began to feel calmer, the sun came out for a few fleeting minutes before setting, and the evening air was as fresh and clear as could be, nature’s reminder that storms always pass. That is as true today as it has always been, but right now we may all need repeated reminders to draw on our inner resources to weather them.