Mindfulness for Mammals: The Easy Way to Be Here Now
How can you tap into your biology to find more ease and relaxation in your life?
The answer lies in the fact that we are mammals, and our ancestors were both predator and prey.
From this understanding, comes a ridiculously easy, yet powerful stress reduction practice.
Let me explain further...
Prey animals are the ones who typically scan their environment, looking for a threat. Think of a deer, stopping to look up and around when she's munching on grass.
When the deer sees there is no threat, she says, "Okay, all is well," and she feels safe to go back to enjoying her meal.
The funny thing is, we are still wired like that deer, and the act of simply looking around our current space can have a calming effect for us as well.
It's called “orienting to the environment” and it's a way for your nervous system to easily and naturally settle into a feeling of safety and relaxation.
In our hectic world, that's a valuable tool!
Go ahead, try it right now. Here's how:
Let your eyes wander where they want to go. Allow your head to move naturally, side-to-side as you notice the space around you. Take a little time to notice details–shapes, colors–or whatever your eyes tend to be drawn to.
And now, check in with how you feel. You may notice the breath naturally deepen, or a feeling of softening and relaxation happening in your body.
It's that easy!
The best thing about "orienting" is that you can do it anytime, anywhere–standing in line at the bank, sitting at your desk or while you're walking your dogs. It's an easy way to just be here, now.
And most importantly, it helps your body move from “fight or flight” (our usual modern-day stress state) to “rest and digest."
This "rest and digest" mode comes from the parasympathetic nervous system–the natural part of you that knows how to repair cells, detoxify and relax into wellbeing.
Interestingly, when you orient and look around, the actual movement of your head and neck, as well as the external focus of your eyes, stimulate messages sent to the brain. They communicate that, just like that deer in the field–all is well–and you and your nervous system, can relax.
It’s especially therapeutic for those of us who spend a lot of time in our heads, and/or staring at a screen.
Now it’s your turn. Give your mind a break today and help your parasympathetic nervous system do its job by looking up, gazing around and adding some movement back into your head and neck.
Better yet, if you can remember to do this every hour or so, your body and stress levels will thank you immensely!