SEPTEMBER TIPS: Balancing Your Energy
As we head into Autumn, there’s a change in seasonal energy that I find can also trigger a shift of personal energy.
Mindfulness helps us balance our energy as we move through life’s challenges.
In this month’s tips I’m sharing 3 practices for working mindfully with energy in the flow of your day.
Our embodied experience is one of alternating states: breathing is a continuous cycle of expansion & contraction; the nervous system constantly moves between activation and rest.
I’ve learned to respect this natural cycle in terms of how I spend my time, by alternating between opposing states. Some of the areas I alternate between are: social & alone time; movement & stillness; noisy and quiet; mental work and manual work; outdoors and inside.
If I’m feeling out of kilter, it can help to check if one of these has shifted out of balance, and then redress it by moving into the opposite state.
One of the benefits of increasing your body awareness is that you become more sensitive to the energy in your body, and this helps to regulate the cycle between stress and rest. When we lose the connection with our body, this cycle can become dysregulated and we feel stuck in stress.
In my younger years, I tended to live so much ‘in my head’ that I wasn’t at all aware of the energy moving through the body. But I learned that by paying attention to body sensations, we can begin to feel this ‘aliveness’ directly. We can make the liberating discovery that no sensation is permanent – we don’t stay in unpleasant states forever: the flow of energy constantly shifts and moves on.
With this awareness, we’re free to meet our experience with fewer limiting preconceptions based on past stress. To build these skills, it can be interesting to explore ‘neutral’ places in the body where you think there is no sensation.
Begin to investigate by placing your awareness there to see what you notice, and make it a regular practice. For instance, I’m now in touch with sensations of aliveness in my feet that I never used to be aware of. This has given me the confidence to challenge other unhelpful assumptions what I experience in my body. There are suggestions below for body awareness meditations if you want to investigate further.
You may have come across the idea in mindfulness of ‘turning towards’ difficulty. It can be useful to explore uncomfortable feelings in small and manageable doses. However, if we are feeling overwhelmed, that may suggest we’d be better off moving our attention elsewhere for a little while.
This technique is called ‘pendulation’, sometimes described as using a tick-tick motion, moving your awareness back and forth between unpleasant and pleasant experience.
To help you do this, you can develop your own toolkit of ‘positive resources’ – these are aspects of your experience that feel good in some way. Then, when you feel stressed, you can choose to move your attention to that positive experience for a while, until you feel ready to re-engage with difficulty.
To begin with, you can even use the ‘neutral’ places in the body that I mentioned above. For example if I’m caught in stress-fuelled thinking, I might shift my attention to my feet and see what I notice there. This helps me realise that the difficulty isn’t the whole of my experience right now.
As we learn to direct the energy of our awareness in this way, we are better able to support ourselves through challenges.
I explain a bit more about body awareness and it’s role in regulating the nervous system in this blog – Relaxing As Letting Go
There are a selection of ‘Body Awareness’ practices to explore on my Meditations page.
If you would like some personalised support in building up your own positive resources – my Steps To Freedom coaching series covers this approach, via 1-to-1 Skype sessions. See the Coaching Programme page for more info.