Last week I lay quietly on my mat in Restorative Yoga class when suddenly a message came though. It was both gentle and firm, advising me to “return to a raw foods lifestyle.” I gave it some attention and went back to supta baddha konasana, a pose to help relax the body, listen to the inner voice and open the heart.
The same message came through again three days later while lying on my mat in yoga class. Upon returning home that second evening I found an email from the “Tapping Solution” recommending a raw foods video about diabetes, and in my mailbox was the recent edition of the magazine “Healing Our World,” from Hippocrates Institute which is dedicated to educating people about progressive health and whole, raw foods lifestyles.
I reflected on all this with curiosity and shifted back to raw foods within three days.
While in relaxation poses, I am able to tone down my mind, relax my body and open the channel to my heart and soul. This is not just a conversation with energy, it’s also a physiological experience. The parasympathetic (rest & digest) branch of the autonomic nervous system runs from the upper brain stem down to the heart and diaphragm and digestive organs. In the energetic construct, this means the sixth chakra as the seat of our wisdom and inner knowing is connected to all of our vital organs, especially the heart at the fourth chakra through our breath.
When the brain signals fear, or even something as normal as tight neck and shoulder muscles, the vagus nerve which is the connection between head and heart can be impinged and our natural rhythms can become choked-off. Although not necessarily related to the autonomic nervous system, the phrenic nerve is another crucial neurological connection originating in the upper neck sending messages to the heart and diaphragm; “beat and breathe now!” This nerve can also be impinged by tight neck and shoulder muscles; in the energetic construct, the phrenic nerve is the connection between the fifth chakra voice, the heart at the fourth chakra and our ability to breathe at the third chakra.
I’m sure for many, these subtle body and physically sensate experiences are not new. What may be different, is the fact that the physiology follows the energetic pathways. The bottom line for me is this: without heart connection, our minds operate at a level of dis-compassion and without a clear heart connection, we speak only from our heads. It’s all in the physiology, and stress clearly sets us up for imbalance, at best.
Our lives are full of stress–emotional, mental, physical, spiritual–and a lot of it isn’t apparent to us on a daily basis. That’s the danger with stress. Hidden stress originates in past experience; the thoughts, emotions, and even the physical responses to those past time situations run like rivers and streams underneath the surface of our daily lives, through our bodies, raging and affecting everything we do in present time. At some point in our history, we recognized this stress and stuffed it away becoming ever more the experts at ignoring this subterranean pressure by developing coping mechanisms specific to its qualities. In those first moments, we chose to deny its existence instead of confronting and releasing it, and then we became that very thing.
The more stress we have, the more we resonate at a survival frequency, constantly tending to the structures we’ve erected around this thing we can only now refer to as idiopathic stress. And if that stress is of forgotten or unknown origins, we resonate unconsciously in the tonal qualities of survival. With this at play, our nervous systems, including the brain; our circulatory and endocrine systems, our digestive systems and more, become tied to the rhythms of this stress monster and the frequency of survival.
If we are in a constant state of stress, known or unknown, is it possible to listen to our inner voices? Is it possible to be open, willing, compassionate amused and balanced? I say NO. When preoccupied like this, we aren’t capable of relating to anything but our stress and it’s projected reality. Think about the times when your digestion is a bit stressed from too much or too rich food. What are you constantly thinking? Are you able to interact with full presence when this is the underlying issue?
This is a simple example of something all of us have experienced and will continue to experience now and then, or maybe more frequently. Whatever its timing, digestive stress is a distraction from present time relationships. What about the deeper types of stress or the mental and emotional types of stress? It’s much easier to run to the bathroom with digestive stress than it is to excuse ourselves from a meeting to run outside and scream or cry.
I’ve known for some time that raw foods were, in large part, my personal ticket to health and heart. That lifestyle is my personal avenue of no stress leading to relief from many physical symptoms, yet I continued on a short trip to toxicity and destruction because I was stressed. It’s a bit of a catch-22. I couldn’t hear my soul speak to me as easily as I had while eating only raw foods; when I did hear, I turned down the volume and went on about the business of increasing my stress levels through effort-full digestion of food and all the other symptoms that accompanied it, through emotions and many other related distractions. And somewhere inside me, I knew I needed to find some peace, to slow my mind and turn inward.
Even so, after only 8 months, I was re-addicted to the high feeling of stress. My adrenals were cranked up and I went temporarily insane with the sensations of stress. In a strange way, I actually like them. As the stress increased, my heart was less a part of my every day interaction and choices. It becomes a tenacious pattern, and one that takes some conscious energy to break because the nervous system is tied into stress, inherently. Because there is something like-able about it, we actually need to dramatically re-wire something to pull ourselves out of this entrenchment.
Restorative yoga was an answer for me that day, opening the doors to experience my awareness and my soul.
There are many ways to link the heart and brain, most of which involve relaxation which is the only possible route to our soul’s inner voice. Relaxation is quiet and heart-full, a state of ease and deep breathing that softens the edges and slows our pace. In relaxation, inner peace is available to us.
By systematically taking bits of stress away one at a time, conscious breath by conscious breath, we unravel the links to find and ultimately resolve the deepest and most dormant stress within. Each step of the way, our nervous system awakens again and before we know it we are present with ourselves in our lives and our hearts are active participants in all our moment to moment choices.
Whether or not you feel stressed, or whether you even believe you might be stressed, we all have one thing in common: we love to relax. It’s in our nature to relax, whether that be through play, sports, meditation, baths, music, walking or something else that suits you best. I just happen to resonate with Restorative Yoga and raw, whole foods.
Please visit Energetic Connection’s new podcast page to experience the first six audios on Sacred Spaces. More to come soon as we expand into Self Mastery, Menopause & Enlightenment, Moving to Open the Chakras and Spiritual Freedom.