Experiential Practice for seasons of uncertainty (2): A simple stretch to promote regulation.
The following exercise is offered to help you explore fostering a sense of safety within
yourself. For anyone navigating uncertainty, the distressing emotions that arise are experienced within the body. This can mean that a person's body may move into a state of activation, where the body might sense danger, or it can mean that it moves into a state of
freezing because it is overwhelmed. Fostering a sense of safety (or, promoting self-regulation) can help the body move towards a more alert and also relaxed state, where the mind can engage rationally and the body is in a state of calm. This is called a ventral vagal state. When the body is in this state, it cues the nervous system to be open and available to engage with oneself and others, which can also help in seasons of uncertainty. Building social connections as one experiences these distressing emotions is an important resource as relationships can offer tremendous support. However, one needs to be able to be in an appropriate physical state in order to foster such connections.
★ Read carefully through the following exercise a few times before you begin.
Sit up straight in your chair. Have both feet placed flat on the ground and hands on your legs in front of you.
Make sure your back is straight as well and your head straight as well - make sure your chin is not too far forward or too far back and is in a neutral position (not pointed down nor up).
Slowly tilt your head to the left side. Do not twist your head or move any part of your body aside from the tilt of the head towards the neck. Keep your shoulders straight.
You should feel a stretch down the middle of the neck towards the ear.
Close your eyes and aim them towards the armpit of the side you are tilting your head towards.
Hold this pose for 60 seconds or until an urge to yawn or sigh comes on.
Once you have held it for a minute or until a yawn/sigh has emerged, change the side that you tilt your head towards.
Repeat this exercise so that you do both sides at least 3 times.
Once you have finished this, try to turn your head (while keeping your body straight) and see if you sense a greater range of movement in your head.
★Take your time in participating in this movement and pay attention to what happens
within you as you engage.
Do you notice your muscles tense or relax as you do this?
How fast is your heart beating?
What are the feelings that emerge for you as you do these exercises?
Does your chest feel open and light or heavy and constricted?
★ After you have done this practice, take a moment before you move on to sit with the
experience of doing this movement - has anything changed? How might this help you going