Resources for Tough Times
How can we get some perspective and ease when we feel under threat? Sometimes stressful situations can leave us with a whole range of responses including thoughts whirling round, disturbed sleep patterns and poor digestion.
It’s worth remembering that our neuro systems are programmed to pay a lot of attention and respond to threat. On the whole this has been helpful to survival but it does mean that we sometimes get over fixated on difficulties and find it difficult to let go.
The threat response can shut down parts of ourselves that might actually be useful, especially when dealing with this complex modern world. These abilities include the capacity to clearly thinkthrough a range of options, or bring calm compassionate attention to ourselves and others.
So how do we get some breathing space? We can start by noticing what is happening as best we can. Rather than delving deeply into the thoughts and feelings it can sometimes be more skillful to widen our attention. This isn’t to shut off our experience, but to re-orientate it.
Releasing through TRE allows the body and mind to engage in a natural rebalancing process. The relief when these tension patterns drop away is often delicious.
Come back to the senses, the direct experience of the seat we are in or the ground we are standing on- is it hard or soft for example? What can we see- maybe there’s something new out there? Can we spot things with the same colour nearby? Or listening, maybe far away sounds in the distance. Perhaps there’s some smell to breathe in. This all works fine indoors, but can be even more engaging if we get out into a garden or wild place.
Becoming aware of appreciation can also be helpful. This isn’t about putting on an artificial permanent smile to the world but actually finding what does support us, even in the midst of difficulty. This can be as simple as enjoying a glass of water, having shelter and clothing, seeing a friendly face, taking a deep breath. If there is strong sensation in the body- pain or a strong emotion for example, the attention will be drawn there. See if there is another part of the body that feels more free, maybe calm and spacious.
When we are contracted it can be difficult to remember that resources for leading us into more spaciousness exist. That's why it can be helpful to practice regularly. Laying down a body and mind memory through repitition means that supportive methods are more available when times get tough.