A Pattern of Rest and Digest

Birds do it, bees do it, even you can do it - when we remember to in this busy, stressful world - we also can stop and relax.  I am sure you are very aware of how the fight or flight pattern feels in your body.  But did you know there is also the rest and digest pattern which feeds and supports the nervous and digestive systems?

Your nervous system needs time for this rest and digest pattern.  Too much fight or flight can send that system, governed by the vagus nerve, haywire, with all kinds of unfortunate results and discomfort.  Rashes, mood swings, anxiety, or worse.
And the digestion system too needs that relaxed unwired time for balancing and health.  Recently researchers are discovering that the bacteria in our gut not only helps digest our food but also is home to our immune system and has been referred to as our 2nd brain.   An undercurrent of bad digestion not only makes us feel- bloated, sore, irritated, tired- you fill in the blank- but it also effects any healing our body needs to do for various reasons.  So probably not good to ignore the signs of an unhappy gut.
Animals know what they need to do to survive.  Watching my dog I learned the art of chilling out, smelling the wild world in the breeze, and being fully present in this amazing moment - all while stretched out in his favorite position of rest.   And yet we can loose this innate sense, forget those joyful moments of self connection because....there is just so much going on.  Always behind schedule, distracted by the push and pull of getting things done, maybe not feeling all that well and pushing, pushing, pushing.
So how can we remember?   Recently I have been thinking about ritual - an act, a gesture - that connects us to an emotional response, maybe one of memory.  Athletes have rituals to help them find their groove, put them in their rhythm of connection to body, muscle memory, and mind state.   Religions also use ritual for much of the same thing.
We can have health and wellness rituals too.  Maybe you already do?  Like that morning brushing of your teeth and ...what else?  What else can you build into your day as a way toward health and connecting to the natural rhythm of the breath, of the body?
I rest every afternoon, get my neck supported just right, put the silky eye pillow on, and that does it!  My body knows this is the time to sink into the gravity of the earth and into a deep state of rejuvenation and rest. My ritual sets me up so that I instantly go there, sometimes 20 minutes, sometimes for 90.  What I need changes daily.
I also use ritual in my meditation practice and to ground my daily life.  Habits, schedules, patterns - whatever helps you be where you need to be, when you need to be there.  And sometimes that place is not one of doing but one of relaxing.
So how will help you remember?  What will help you get your groove back?  Some ideas;

  • A slow morning stretch routine
  • yoga class - they come in all levels and styles!
  • Journaling - late night or early morning ponderings
  • Reading - what would support you?
  • Meditation - join a sitting group or alone
  • Practicing whatever appeals to you emotionally, personally

And what do you need to eliminate when making space in your already full life for this practice?   What will allow you the time of a ritual to rest and digest?
Dedicated to the memory of my dear dog Renzo, my resting companion and reminder, that some of the best times are the ones of doing nothing.