Today, I want to share with you about the importance of mindfulness when it comes to self regulation. Often when we’re talking about our nervous system, we’re talking about nervous system regulation.
But really, what does that mean?
It’s an avenue for how we regulate or come back to relative balance within our nervous system, which is one part and facet of regulation.
So, when we’re talking about self-regulation, what does that really mean? How do we maintain a relative balance within the unfolding of our day-to-day life? Life is going to have its highs, it’s going to have its lows. We’re going to expand, and we’re going to contract… we’re going to get excited and we’re going to experience sadness or feel small. This is just part of the natural expansion and contraction of what happens in our world and how we, as human, biological animals and beings, respond to the unfolding of life experience.
Self-regulation can happen in a few different ways and specifically I’m going to refer to mindfulness - the power of paying attention on purpose in the present moment non-judgementally. How that has the ability to support and encourage our practice of self-regulation, being able to navigate the world.
The first is a tension regulation… meaning mindfulness has the ability to remind us of how we can be mindful or attend to the unfolding of present experience. Meaning… we get to notice where our attention goes, right?
Many of us should be familiar with the Disney/Pixar movie, Up, right? Doug that classic chrome moment, right? For me. It’s awesome. Sparkly things or I’m really attuned to sounds and shift to music or energetics, right? So it’s where we are drawing our attention to… and then how do we regulate it? How do we notice that there’s a distraction and then come back to whatever the task at hand was?
Then we also have emotion regulation. It’s a similar process, but we’re navigating it with our emotions. When we experience spikes of anxiety or we feel the whole of sadness and grief wanting to take us away, right? How do we begin to ride the waves of our emotional experience without getting kind of caught up in the riptide of it?
Body Sensations. This is where mindfulness is helpful physically with nervous system regulation. We get to notice what is happening and shifting within our internal environment and body sensations. Does our body temperature change? Do we experience tingles? Or notice if our body feels closed off? Do we notice if our heart opens when someone says something?
Lastly, we have the practice of dual awareness, which really helps us regulate our nervous system, regulate our life, and engage in self regulation. And this is when we are able to hold two seemingly paradoxical pieces of information simultaneously. This idea is that we can experience the “both and.” I can experience grief and heartbreak and I can experience gratitude for the love that was once there. I can experience a lot of excitement and I can be aware of perhaps some fear or anxiety that may be present. And a very fascinating thing about the nervous system with anxiety and excitement… our nervous system responds exactly the same way to anxiety or nervousness and excitement. It simply depends on the story we tell ourselves. And the story we tell ourselves can be influenced by our practice of mindfulness.
Tell me… what about these different self-regulation practices and the influence of mindfulness influence you most? Feel free to reach out via email or in the comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
Take care for now.
P.S. Want to learn more? Check out my ✨✨Somatic Awakening Retreat✨✨happening in May.