Day 33 ~ Can You Spell Para-Sympathetic?

Sunday used to be the day I caught up with everything that I hadn’t accomplished during the week, so I could hit the ground running on Monday morning.
 
That strategy no longer works for me.
 
Another Sunday has passed, with another blazing fire and my grey cat Fionn making a nest in the back of my knees as I rested for several hours on the couch. The sun blazed all day on the slowly melting snow and I enjoyed watching every moment of  it through the windows on either side of me.
 
All day long, I was engaging my “para-sympathetic nervous system.” That’s the part of you that is hard-wired to relax; it’s the equivalent of the ebb tide, when even the ocean has to rest in her flow.
 
Why do I feel like I’m getting away with something when I spend my Sunday like this? It’s because it feels like a luxury to so many people I know.
 
It’s funny that we are biologically hard-wired to relax and yet so many of us forgo  it on a regular basis. Life has sped up so much over the last decade that we’ve  forgotten something that many people hear about in church on a regular basis: even God rested on the seventh day.
 
So why aren’t we relaxing?
 
My answer to that question used to be that I was too busy; the reality was that I was too tense.
 
Up until about two years ago, it just felt better to keep on running my “sympathetic nervous system” – the part of you that is hard-wired to get you out of danger with “fight or flight.” The fun thing about doing this is that you get an adrenaline high all the time – just think of Leonardo DiCaprio’s famous line in the beginning of the movie Titanic, “I’m king of the WORLD!”
 
You saw where that got him.
 
So today I was rested enough to remember something that I knew would help me to tap even deeper into my hard-wiring for relaxation; I broke out an old yoga video that I’ve had for over ten years. These days I’m finally relaxing enough to appreciate it again. (It’s Rodney Yee’s 1999 video, The Art of Breath and Relaxation; it’s out of print, but you can still get it, and the audio version, on Amazon.com)
 
What I remembered as I spent an hour going through each of the very simple and relaxing exercises this afternoon is that learning yoga in my 20s actually started me on the path to Powerful Presence.
 
Yoga, and especially  yoga breathing techniques, taught me everything I know about being grounded, about being present in the moment and about being authentic.
 
It’s wonderful to come back home to it.

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