Post #2, in a series of Trusting Life
When I write about Trusting Life, I’m not talking about some kind of la de da, bypassing, head in the clouds thing. I’m talking literally, of the moment. Yesterday presented yet another opportunity to look at my relationship with trusting life.
I woke up experiencing symptoms of vertigo. Urgh. I gathered my attention, oriented/co-regulated and went back to sleep for a while, and then woke up in the same predicament. Again, I gathered my attention, and oriented… and then, as this was not my first rodeo, I kept engaging in practical and regulating practices that have been helpful for me in the past.
Some of those practices are from a brain/nervous system practitioner that I see, and others are from what I’ve learned in my previous engagements with vertigo, as well as my own predictables of what happens with my nervous system and fearful parts when I find myself unwell (helloooo covid!).
Orienting/co-regulating kept me stable enough to find the practices from my practitioner. Orienting/co-regulating practices are well grooved into my neural pathways, and come with me into most moments at this point, AND it still requires effort to connect with these practices when I’m most challenged- i.e. when they are most important! Slowing down to engage in them was foundational yesterday, and meant the difference between being able to function versus getting swept away by a vertigo tunnel. Phew.
Part of orienting/co-regulating is connecting with the “actual/factual” (I write a lot about the actual factual, as well as guide people through this lens in my free recordings on Insight Timer), so I took the time to do this, very slowly. Ground beneath my feet. Air on my face. Breath coming in and out of my body. The field of gravity.
Even so, the influence of vertigo can be intense, and my system kept wanting to go into dysregulation and vigilance. Vigilance can reek havoc on a nervous system, and can disrupt one’s relationship with trusting life, in the snap of a finger… and that’s what I kept noticing. A cycle repeated itself: I’d connect with the actual factual, which would increase a sense of stability, and then another wave of vigilance would arise. Rince, repeat. Back and forth, my system going towards vigilance, the recognition of that, and then a reorienting and restabilizing.
For me, vigilance can show up in a number of ways, but basically the subtext is “you’re in danger! protect yourself! brace! hold on!”, and I will feel that all the way in my bones, in my viscera, and most definitely in my breathing/chest areas. My emotional body and thought patterns constrict and tighten. The world literally becomes perceived of as dangerous- i.e. life is no longer trustable.
I remember a moment when I reminded myself that the field of gravity is here, no matter what.
Because I’m already wired to include the field of gravity, this orientation was accessible, but still not easy because when you have vertigo a part of you is demanding that you constrict and hold, so as to get stability. It is immensely counterintuitive to “let go and let gravity” and to feel the stability of the floor (or bed/chair) underneath the body/ holding the body. It is counterintuitive to soften, and trust, when you’re afraid the world will spin if you don’t hold on tight. It is counterintuitive to not desperately hold onto the handrail or wall. It is counterintuitive to walk on the floor just like you’ve walked it a million times, remembering that floor really is there to hold your body. And yet, because I’ve experimented with the mind body relationship during vertigo episodes before, this is what I did.
When I reminded myself that gravity is here, no matter what… my body and nervous system knew that was true, and in that moment there was a big shift. Something in my mind and body softened, and trust with life came back into my direct experience. I really could trust the field of gravity. For real. Phew, my brain and nervous system so needed to know I was safe, in such a very real and practical way, even if I was feeling destabilized and woobly.
As I kept studying the dance of vigilance and softening I also noticed how I’d unintentionally been holding my chest tight, which meant my breathing was constricted, which was further conveying a sense of danger to my brain. I reminded myself that I was able to breathe… that breath was still breathing me, and that, even with the vertigo, I could trust breath, and more than that, I could trust the softeness of breath, and the softening of my heart within that breath.
Again I say, PHEW! as I am on this study of “trusting life” it is fascinating and quite humbling to notice the predictability of what tries to kick me out of this trust… of what triggers me into controlling and fighting, both of which spin me into increased vigilance, fear cycles and dysregulation… not to mention increased suffering! What an experiment… to watch the system subtly “harden”, and then to use effort (through attention) to stay soft, open and here.
I’m grateful to say that things kept shifting throughout the day. I took some remedies that I have that might address some inner ear stuff I continue to experience post covid, and I maintained my commitment to watching my system with regards to vigilance, and softening, as well as with breath and the field of gravity. I stayed slow with myself, and by the end of the day the echos of vertigo were almost non-existent. Which was sooooo fabulous because I was gifted a free ticket to see the pleasure activist Janelle Monae, and I not only felt well enough to go to the concert, but well enough to dance throughout her show! GAHHHH what a truly dynamic day it was.