As I sit at my dining room table and look out my windows, surveying the “view” I have been wondering about the effect of fire season 2017 has on my nervous system.
My asana practice has been very limited this summer. I neither have the energy or desire to engage in a strong physical sequences of poses. Rather, I have spent time on my mat doing gentle stretches to ease stressful feelings. I have also enjoyed deepening my meditation practice. It seems to be the one aspect of yoga that invites a sense of peace and calm. And at times that elusive joyfulness. And isn’t that wonderful. After 6 plus weeks of a challenging summer I am incredibly grateful for my meditation.
One of my favorite meditations at this point is acknowledging the fact that I am breathing. Dropping into my breath does create a sense of calm. I feel our nervous systems have been in the “on” position for several weeks. This means that the stress hormones of cortisol and adrenaline are being produced by the adrenal glands. When we step outside the air quality is challenging our breathing, making it shallow. That fact alone triggers your stress response. Another stressful part of the fire season is the sight of helicopters as well as the sound that the blades make as they sluice through the smoky air.
Itchy eyes, runny noses and scratchy throats are symptoms many valley residents are experiencing. Personally, I haven’t had a good night’s sleep for about 4 nights. Last night I decided to get out of bed, sit on my couch and do a breathing meditation. Here is what it looked like:
Step One. Get comfortable and place one hand on my belly and one hand in the center of my chest.
Step Two. Feeling my body expanding and contracting with the inhalations and exhalations. Belly, ribs and chest rising and falling.
Step Three. I took my awareness behind my sternum, deep into my body close to the spine. This is my heart space. The place where love resides. Breathing into this space.
Step Four: As I breathe in and out I simply became aware of emotions that were residing in my heart. These emotions included: Relief, sorrow, peacefulness, anger, happiness, comfort. (No wonder I wasn’t sleeping)
Step Five: Simply be with these sensations.
Step Six: Turning off the stress response and turning on relaxation response means climbing back into bed and falling peacefully asleep.
Thank you Breath.
Give it a try next time you find yourself Sleepless in Stevensville.