Lowering the alarm system
What helps lower the alarm system?
When we feel safe enough, we can rest. What is rest? A mysterious spring of energy, healing, learning and creativity that happens with enough trust and less alarm. Rest brings us alive. We don't need to seek 100% safety, because when we feel safe enough, we are in touch with life in a fulfilling way. What can help us rediscover safe enough?
~Feel your feet for a while, maybe 5 or 6 breaths. Yes, even if it sounds ridiculous, and why would it help?! But just feeling the shape, the skin, the weight, between the toes, the textures of clothing, air, and ground. Touch your feet with your hands, if you like.
~After a while, you may find a deeper out-breath happens, or you can invite a longer out-breath. Two or three long out-breaths, as if you are breathing out down into your legs. Can you feel your legs? Legs and feet? Just feeling whatever you can feel in the lower body for a while as you let your out-breath go down into your legs.
~Then you can call to mind a moment when you felt good—loved, safe, joyous, okay, grateful, at home, ease, etc. Or you can remember what you value or find precious.
As you remember, what do you feel in your body? Where do you feel what? Let the sensations be themselves—both very specific and also very slippery. Here and gone, definite yet undefinable: an insight into the nature of things—vivid and ungraspable.
Over time, you can collect a number of memories that can help you come out of alarm. Don't worry—this is not avoidance. We have practiced feeling pain, worry and lack already. Now we can give 80-90% of our practice to feeling ease, belonging, joy and so on. These states, though pale at first, will help you be more in touch with “wide mind.” “Small mind” does not have room for wide mind, but wide mind has room for everything—the wonderful and the difficult, the subtle and the obvious.
~If no “good moment” comes to mind, is there somewhere a subtle sense of somewhere being fine, even in difficult times? What does “fine” or “okay” feel like?
~Or you can open your eyes and allow your eyes to rest on something that you like looking at. Just letting seeing happen, letting simple meeting happen. What do you feel and where do you feel it?
(Even the simple gesture of moving the eyes can help lower the alarm system. In times of more anxiety, you can try turning your eyes to one side for a minute or so. Even if you keep your eyes closed as you do this, you may feel like you are turning down the volume on alarm.)
Other tips during meditation...
Once you feel more settled, you may like to let the body choose its own posture for meditation...lying face up or down or on your side, leaning back, sitting up, standing or moving.
Placing a substantial cushion comfortably on the body like a hug can help feel more grounded.
Jin Shin Jyutsu hand positions can help our energy find its “wider harmony” or flow.
Other things that can help within or outside of the meditation practice:
~moving the body—including perhaps gentle or strong exercise, getting sweaty, getting fresh air, getting into a rhythm, getting something done—especially something that feels essential or helpful or on the other side of a membrane of resistance
~moving the voice—sharing with a friend, or singing, for example
~noticing and doing what brings you joy. At the end of each day, you could recall and note down what were 5 moments of joy (or gratitude, etc.) Just noticing can help towards allowing the free aliveness that is joy. And gradually, we can cross the “membrane of resistance” and we can know we are allowed to be free. We are allowed to be in touch with aliveness, as it is.
~moving the heart—giving yourself and others several daily gestures of love and friendship; honoring moments of gratitude; expressing gratitude, and so on, have now been proven to make us healthier and more in tune with life.
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