Mindful Awareness A 3 Part Series…

Click here http://bit.ly/mindstruckpodcast to listen to this content in its entirety on the Mindstruck! Meditation & Awareness Studio Podcast, episode #12

Mindful Awareness…Applying It To Structure, Function, and Health…Circumventing The Stress Response

Often I speak and teach on this fundamental information so I decided to curate this knowledge into 3 parts so it is easy to digest, comprehend and accessible to come back to reference.

  • How we apply Mindful Awareness to structure, function, and health.
  • How meditation changes the brain
  • The benefits of meditation
  • Highlight the physiology & anatomy of a stress response,
  • Give a solution to the stress response and
  • Teach you how to meditate and shift your nervous system out of a stress response.

 

“One of the most revolutionary of human gifts is our capacity to see clearly

To be present, interested, and connected to our own lives in a

Wise and compassionate way”

~ Jack Kornfield

Part 2. Unpacking A Non-life threatening Stress Response…We Have Options: Fight, Flight, Rest & Digest

So why is Mindful Awareness relevant?

How does it impact health, structure, and function of the nervous system?

How can we use this knowledge to move the needle?

 

Let’s unpack the stress response for now as it pertains to the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The peripheral nervous system is the part of the nervous system that is outside of the brain and spinal cord

  • There are two parts of the PNS
  1. The parasympathetic branch of the PNS
  2. The sympathetic branch of the PNS

 

The Parasympathetic NS: regulates rest & digest

  • Regulates the mundane
  • Vegetative states
  • Sleep and restful states
  • Calm and digestive states
  • Dominate in all activities of rest and digest

 

The Sympathetic NS: regulates Fight or Flight

  • Evolved throughout the entire animal kingdom for life-saving purposes
  • Responds to needs during a stress response
  • In a fight or flight response
  • Allows a quick shift from a quiet, restful, receptive state of equilibrium (Parasympathetic tone)
  • To a quick arousal readiness response (sympathetic tone)
  • This system is life-saving WHEN it is elicited for an actual life-saving need
  • For example when a car pulls out in front of you in traffic and you
  • When you are called to make a quick response
However…A sympathetic stress response that is elicited chronically outside the context of life-saving, will quite literally zap the life from us!

Let me give you an example of this.

During our day-to-day experiences, our brain can easily access memories, thoughts, emotions, and feelings that elicit a stress response that is identical to an actual life-saving stress response. Our brain does not know the difference between a stress response elicited by memory or the real thing or the real thing. To the brain and body, it is all real!

 

The Fight or Flight system asks no questions and is a master of reaction.

The Sympathetic NS…is not to be demonized. It is in place to save our lives!

It is an amazing built-in mechanism for survival, safety, and security.

 

The issue is when this stress response begins to hijack our lives as we experience our day-to-day existence
even when our safety & survival is NOT compromised.

 

MeditationMindful Awareness

There is a possibility of being able to identify and pay attention

when your Mind & Body is reacting in a non-life threatening stress response

 

A little journaling exercise…

  1. Write down a list of words that describe you as your best self, your calm and together self, the most connected version of yourself
  2. Now write down a list of words that describe you as your stressed self.

 

There is merit and reason to begin to become familiar and even friendly with this stressed out self… You can begin to decipher through these qualities your state of the union. Are you in Fight or Flight Or Rest & digest?

 

Once you determine that you are either heading into a stress response or maybe even in a full-blown stress response…Go to your breath! It is the fastest way to shift your nervous system!

 

We have been talking about the stress response through most likely some familiar terms… Fight or Flight…Rest & Digest….that which is occurring in the periphery, the body.

Stay tuned for Part 3. Where I will give you some information on what is happening in a stress response within the brain,  how the brain communicates that to the body, and how non-life threatening stress episodes attenuated and based purely on memory, creates a chronic state of stress in the body.

Remember…

With Mindful Awareness

  • we are NOT changing the chaos and frenetic nature of the world
  • We are shifting our internal landscape-> NOW
  • We are controlling what we can “control”
  • We are observing, acknowledging, & responding

Get into your NOW…with Breath! http://www.expandingpathways.com/meditations/

  • Practice
  • Observe & recognize
  • Be aware of your thoughts, sensations, & emotions
  • Breathe….Be in the NOW…
  • Breathing in the now, uni-tasking
  • It allows us to recognize the monkey mind

Until next time, if nothing else….remember,  peace in your internal world largely and profoundly… if not miraculously, transfers over to peace in the external world.

Peace In~ Peace Out!

Stay tuned for next in the series…Part 3: Feeding The Dragon & The Princess