Although you cannot certainly control your ANS, many lifestyle choices you make determine how it functions. The more you realize the physiological consequences of how you live, the easier it becomes to make choices with awareness, develop habits that serve your greater good and live easier. It takes patience, diligence and a sense of humor to get the new rhythms going, but once flowing you’ll certainly reap more than you sowed.
Remember, you’re not designed to be stressed all the time, even moderately. Not really digesting, pumping blood under higher pressure than needed, with tired eyes and poorly nourished skin, it’s a surefire way to compromise your fine-tuning and experience dis-ease, ultimately creating disease. There is nothing decadent about nourishing yourself with rest, gentleness, inspiration and whatever makes you thankful to be alive, especially if you do it in ways that support the same in others.
If your muscles are contracted in a semi-permanent state of being, blood and impulses are not flowing optimally. At some point, the flow has been compromised for so long that our minds decide this must be the new regular state-of-being. Your body is then officially engaged in maintaining a physical habit (see below). Furthermore, continued troubles do not just affect the specific location, but radiate to other systems like the fascia and skin (puckers, dimples, cellulite), pressuring confined organs and creating numbness and/or discomfort which can illicit a myriad of symptoms.
Just like with tension, blood and information flow are compromised if you injured yourself (twisted ankle, broken leg) or had surgery (scar tissue, muscle atrophy). Too often we also have a fear of re-injuring or over-stressing these parts, and sometimes our brains send out a “Do Not Use” order even after the area has healed. This indicates that we are acting on old information and avoiding the chance of re-experiencing pain and injury. Fear or no fear, messages to and from headquarters can get pretty muddled, and like a bureaucracy, after awhile one hand doesn’t know exactly what the other one’s doing! Let’s remember that it’s always possible to reeducate and rejuvenate the body and mind to flow optimally.
Most of us are aware of some habits, and unaware of others. Things we hear people say:
- “My neck and shoulders are always tight.” (semi-permanent tension)
- “I work at a computer desk 8-10 hours a day.” (computer shoulders, carpal tunnel syndrome)
- “I’ve always walked like this. It runs in the family: my father, my sister, and even our dog all slap down their right foot when walking.” (repetitive movement in natural living)
- “OK, I guess I DO clench my teeth when I feel stressed.” (mild TMJ syndrome)
- “My back’s acted up periodically ever since I played football in high school.” (resignation that partial healing is acceptable)
All of these scenarios reflect body complacency. So WHAT is a body to do? Schedule a session and reset your neurology.