The parasympathetic nervous system would be an ideal home base to live from – bravely open and present to your life as it unfolds.
However, when there is any threat of danger, your body quickly switches into the sympathetic nervous system, also referred to as the “flight or fight” nervous system. When you register feelings of stress or threat, the sympathetic nervous system prepares your body for flight (fleeing from danger) or fight (protecting yourself) by gathering all of your body’s energy for alertness and action.
In these moments, the sympathetic nervous system increases your heart rate, slows digestion and quickens and shortens your breath. At the same time, your hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenal cortex communicate in an effort to release cortisol into your blood stream. This creates a biochemical change within your body that boosts blood sugar levels and your blood pressure. This quick boost of energy helps you swiftly get to safety.
Interestingly, stress signals are not always sent from outside of your body. In fact most times signals and warnings of stress are coming from your own Chattering Mind. Every story in your Chattering Mind influences whether your body is resting in the parasympathetic nervous system or preparing for action in the sympathetic nervous system.
“I am so worried about my test tomorrow.”
“I am glad to be home.”
“I am so mad at my sister!”
“I hope I play well in the game tomorrow.”
These messages create a physiological change in you body—tipping you closer towards “rest and digest” or “flight or fight.”
Using your breath, begin to practice paying attention to your sense of your own nervous system. Do you feel relaxed, present and open most of your day? Or do you feel rushed, over-busy and anxious?
Simply take note, does feeling your breath and paying attention to your body allow you to sense the state of your nervous system? How is your Chattering Mind influencing your nervous system and how your body feels?