Do you have practices and rituals for replenishment?
I used to have a pretty big aversion to the word discipline. I think it’s because I never really understood it. Now I have daily practices, I love them, and I’ve come to fancy calling them rituals. Rituals, routines, habits, practices: no matter what you call them, they settle the nervous system.
Our nervous system triggers our “fight or flight response”, for our ancestors stressful emergencies were typically short-lived, fleeing from a saber toothed tiger, one might’ve had to scurry up a tree or else death be the consequence. But once the emergency was over their body would return to a pretty peaceful state, gathering food, bonding with the tribe and relating to the natural world around them.
Returning to the non stressed state allows for digestion and restoration to occur.
Excessive stress seems to be the new normal of today’s culture. Emergencies come in the shape of long hours, deadlines, kid’s schedules, family health issues, deaths, to-do lists, road rage, political intolerance and more. Many people are running low grade stress through their bodies most of the time. Overwhelm lurks just below the surface. All of this causes the body’s systems to break down, leading to premature aging and disease.
We can see how our environments and schedules trigger stress in our lives, the question becomes: how do we return to a peaceful, at ease state of being?
This is where daily rituals come in, they provide a calm normalcy to return to. The familiarity of routine offers the body and mind the comfort of predictability.
Signs that the nervous system could use more routine:
- Feeling scattered and unsupported
- Overwhelm and anxiety
- Using Netflix, books or phone scrolling to “check out”
- Eating to feel grounded
- Negative self talk
- Mood swings
- Body pains and discomforts
- Drinking alcohol to wind down and caffeine to get moving
- Poor sleep
- Low energy
How I’m rolling with stress these days.
The fact is, environmental stress is something I’m going to have to navigate. Sure, I can change things in my life (and I do) in order to refine what works and what doesn’t. That helps reduce some stress. But the other place I help myself is by changing how I react to stress, which I’m much more in control of. My daily rituals are key in helping me become less reactive.
Upheavals happen, my most recent was moving from our house of 7 years and taking off on a voyage to an unknown land. The move disrupted pretty much every routine I had. My practices were the one thing that stayed the same. It took some creativity to incorporate my daily rhythms into my new environments and I was absolutely less than perfect but, I had something to move towards, something I knew would help my body and mind to feel secure and grounded.
You know what? The word discipline doesn’t bother me any more, I no longer have an aversion to it because I’ve fallen in love with my practices, they’re not something I have to do they’re the glue that keeps me together, they allow me to be a truer version of myself.
A Simple Place to Start
When I work with people who want to incorporate yoga or mediation into their life I begin by asking them about their sleeping and eating routines. Why? Because it’s a bit easier to shift something we’re already used to doing than it is to bring in something entirely new and if sleeping and eating routines are out of wack the yoga and meditation won’t be nearly as effective as it could be.
“Book ends for the day” is what I affectionately call morning and evening routines, both stem from when I wake up and when I go to bed. I know it’s not that heroic but when it comes to treating the body right getting up and going to bed early is a benefit. Do it at the same time on most days and it becomes a steady rhythm your nervous system can depend on.
Regular meal times and sitting down to eat attentively can do wonders for digestion and even the waistline. Meal times can become an opportunity to pause, take a deep breath and enjoy the good fortune in front of you, that alone sounds soothing doesn’t it? Now remember, when the nervous system is in a stress response the body is distracted from it’s ability to digest. Poor digestion can lead to so many health problems.
If you find yourself wishing you had daily home routines with yoga, meditation and food habits – right on, let me know how I can support you further in your pursuit!
In addition to that endeavor I’ll invite you to take a gentle look at your routines with sleeping, waking and eating too because starting small and simple is an awesomely effective approach.
Within the most mundane tasks there is a huge opportunity to create nourishing everyday rituals that will enhance your mind/body well being.
- When the nervous system is settled your physiology can work on recovering as well as digesting your food and your experiences.
- Daily practices help you to feel grounded, safe and secure. From that place you are more apt to handle life’s challenges with less reactivity and more grace.
- Create regularity your body can depend on by getting up and going to bed at the same time most days.
- Sit down to eat at consistent times in order to improve digestion as well as create moments of pause and appreciation in your day.