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Embodiment as Meditation — How To Regulate the Nervous System

Written by: Susanne Venaas, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

It’s very often that most of us are running in Survival Mode, rushing from one thing to another. The mind never stopping, and consistently projecting our worries about the past and the future. When we are in this state of Survival Mode, we are often in a state of Fight or Flight. When in this state, the brain cannot differentiate between an immediate physical threat, and a perceived threat. The brain drops into the sympathetic response system increasing our heart rate, blood pressure, pushing blood to the extremities, increasing our adrenaline, and increasing our cortisol or stress hormones. The body is getting ready to take action! This is great if there is a fire we need to evacuate from, but not so effective in dealing with the projected stress of an upcoming difficult conversation with our boss.

Our job is to regulate our nervous system when we start feeling the sensations that may be associated with the Fight or Flight response. Some indicators may be shortness or tightness of breath, raised and tense shoulders, tightness or heaviness in the chest, and a pain or tightness in the pit of the stomach. When we regulate the nervous system we drop into the parasympathetic response system of the brain in turn decreasing the heart rate, decreasing blood pressure, decreasing stress hormones, and allowing blood to flow easily to all of the body systems such as digestive, reproductive, and respiratory. This is when we are in the optimal flow.


My belief is that it is important to drop further into the body through four embodiment practices of breath, sound, intentional movement, and pleasure.


Breathwork drops us immediately into the body. I work with clients from all walks and stages of life, and I believe that the majority of us are not great breathers. Most of us breathing to the sternum and never more fully or more intently. The simplest breathing technique I give to every single client is the following. Stand, sit or lay comfortably. Set a timer for 1-2 minutes and then close the eyes to draw the attention inwards. Placing the hands palm down onto the lower abdomen draw your inhalations in deeply through the nose, drawing the breath into the lower abdomen, feeling the abdomen expand like a balloon into the lower abdomen. On the exhalations, allow them to move out of the mouth while the lower abdomen softens towards the spine. Repeating with expansion on every inhalation and softening on every exhalation keeping the palms on the abdomen. The palms on the abdomen send an immediate and powerful cue to the brain that you are in fact safe and alive in the body. Continue until the timer stops.


Sound is proven to reduce activity in the limbic system. Sound and sound vibrations are something that I incorporate into healing sessions all of the time. The sound vibrates at a different frequency to help shift the vibration within the body and achieve a greater state of peace and calm. Ways in which you can regulate your own nervous system through sound as an embodiment practice can be to hum, chant or sing. Humming and chanting sounds like ‘Om’ are said to resonate with the frequency of our Higher Self. Singing is something that we often quit doing as we get older, but the sound frequencies are both healing through vibration and bring a sense of joy, especially if it is a song with meaningful lyrics or memories for us.


Intentional movement helps us to connect fully to our body. Now, I come from a background of growing up playing competitive sport, and an adulthood of training and pushing through my fitness. With this background it becomes easy to move because we know we ‘should’ move, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to intentional movement. Intentional movement happens when we are connected to the sensations within our body as we move. The feel of a rock shift under our feet during a mountain hike, the inhale/exhale paired to the pound of feet as they hit the pavement while running, the expansion of breath and feel of muscles during a connected yoga practice, the strain of the quads and glutes on the up and down of a heavy squat. My most favorite way to move and connect to my body is through dance. I throw on some amazing beats from my youth of the late 90s and early 2000s or something now that has a great beat, and shake it! Literally, I shake my butt, hips, thighs and body, feeling the rhythm of the music and allowing my body to be a physical instrument of it, moving it freely without judgment, restriction or hesitation. Bliss!


Being in pleasure immediately drops us into our body. Often when the word pleasure is mentioned the mind immediately associates pleasure with sex. Yes, this can be so. Sex, with or without a partner allows us to connect fully to our body and an orgasm allows for a shift to the energetic state of our body. Sex however is not the only way to access pleasure. Pleasure comes from the ability to embrace, and be present to all our senses as they heighten our experiences. When we ‘turn on’ our senses we also become turned on noticing the sights on our morning commute, hearing the trilling laughter of children as we walk by the park, feeling the crisp autumn air on our skin, or smelling the heavenly scents from the bakery around the corner from us. Once we become more embodied, our senses heighten and we allow ourselves to drop into the pleasures that are available to us at any moment in time. Magic!


My belief is that embodiment is the meditation that brings us fully present and connected to our bodies.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram and visit my website for more info!

 

Susanne Venaas, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Susanne Venaas is an International Spiritual Coach based out of St. Albert, Alberta Canada. Susanne works both in-person and virtually connecting with her clients in their transformation and growth. She also supports learning via her online school, and her Rebel Soul Podcast to help them connect to their most authentic selves. Wellness to her is an integrative approach to body mind and spirit. Susanne has been featured in Yahoo News + Finance as one of the top 10 Spiritual Coaches to watch in 2021, as well as featured in CEO Medium as an expert in her field, and her Rebel Soul Podcast made Top 10 Spiritual Podcasts in Canada after it's first 6 weeks of going live in May 2021. Her passion is working with others to cultivate a deeply meaningful and connected life.

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