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  • SuePattonThoele

Taking a Break

The human nervous system is miraculous, almost unbelievably complex and capable. And, like any other functioning entity, your nervous system needs to take an occasional break to rest and recharge. As a result of unrelenting sensory stimulation, our own inner expectations, and super-stuffed schedules, our valiant nervous systems operate at red alert much of the time. For it to stay healthy, your nervous system needs to take breaks from hyperactivity and hypervigilance.

Sleep is important, and small “offline” time-outs during the day are also necessary to nourish and restore body, mind, and nerves.

Engaging your imagination is also a wonderful way to create short, relaxing time-outs. To begin, let your eyes drift closed and become aware of your breathing. No need to change it; just observe your breath with gratitude. After several inhales and exhales, move your awareness to your nervous system and allow an image of it to arise in your mind’s eye. It’s okay to focus solely on your spinal cord, knowing it disperses energy to the entire body automagically. How would you describe the energy of your nervous system right now? What color is it? Does that color feel calm and restful? If not, allow a soothing, calming color to appear. Surround and saturate your spinal column with the color. When I was doing this exercise the other day, my spinal cord first appeared to be a throbbing red. I chose to cool it down with Bimini blue, a Caribbean ocean color that is peaceful to me.

Because there is construction and discombobulating noise pollution around our home, I bathe my nervous system in Bimini blue often. Another little practice I do when my nervous system is shouting out red alerts such as “There’s not enough time! You can’t do this! It’s

impossible!” is imagine a beautiful big bubble—like kids blow with little wands—in front of me. Into it, I put dire red alert warnings plus fears, anxieties, or doubts that are nagging at me. With the help of angels, I let the bubble float away. My imagination loves angels, but yours may conjure up other imagery that resonates with your soul. The purpose of these practices is to cool and calm your nervous system with loving attention and a bit of oasis time and space.

During your day...

  • Take mini-rest-cations just for the health of it.

  • Soothe your nervous system with color.

Maybe the most important teaching is to

lighten up and relax.

—Pema Chödrön

Excerpted from The Woman's Book of Strength by Sue Patton Thoele. Available on Mango and Amazon.

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