Roughly 18% of the American population experiences anxiety. That’s 40 million people in the United States that have been reported suffering from an unhealthy nervous system, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
That’s significant, and perhaps spikes some kind of curiosity, at a minimum.
My own curiosity with the nervous system began with a recurring, high dose of fight or flight in the city of New York. Fight or flight, aka acute stress response, is when the body’s sympathetic nervous system is switched to “on.” This stimulates the adrenal glands and subsequently releases adrenaline and noradrenaline, contributing to the body’s stress response.
For me, while living in New York City, this stress response, which seemingly came from the aethers, spoke so loudly, that at the time, left me with only one option – to exit the city and follow a path of health and wellness.
Why does it feel like you’re fine one moment and the next you’re suddenly flooded with stress, overwhelm, a racing heart, and sometimes a feeling that death is near? After studying to become a Yoga teacher, Mindfulness facilitator, and holistic health expert, I realized that the experience of being hijacked in my own mind and body, actually had an important message, and that this message would invariably require time and presence to unfold and reveal itself. Sound mystical? It kind of is.
Simply put, I always knew that western medicine’s solution of a bottle filled with pills would not be my best answer, at least for the long term. In my mind, this was not an option. As I started to develop a stronger mind/body awareness through various practices, I began to recognize that my system had been worn down for years, perhaps decades. That this anxiety-thing was a huge signal from my body that things were majorly off balance.
Through the journey of self-healing, I’ve realized that in order to come to terms with stress and anxiety, I must balance the nervous system and that there are many available tools — both ancient and modern — to aid and support in this process. Amongst the depths of modalities, I was introduced to Ayurveda. The deep ritual, intentional practices and use of herbs as both food and medicine have played a significant role in bringing my own system into balance. I’ve recently started incorporating PIOR Living’s Chyawanprash into my daily ritual. I have already noticed a major shift in my mind and body: feeling more grounded and at ease in the beginning of the day, and recognizing a shift in my relationship to Rasa (in Ayurveda, this is the source of all taste that we experience.)
We all come from different backgrounds and life paths and our primal experience of fear dates as far back as our ancient ancestors. So yes, you can say that epigenetics most likely plays a role in this. Therefore, in this day and age, it’s pretty important to finally recognize that there is no one right way. The approach is unique and varying to everyone and the way to find yours is by tuning inward.
I offer you a short guide for this idea of “turning inward:”
1) This is where I will shamelessly plug a daily meditation practice, as a way to train your brain. This can be a few minutes of seated practice, an in depth dive into the field of meditation, or for those of you who can’t sit still, a moving meditation. Bottom line – train your focus.
2) Make sure you re-learn how to breath. *Hint, the answer is yet again, unique and varying and can be explored in future PIOR Living videos and articles. Alternatively, pick up one of my favorite books “How to Breathe” by Ashley Neese, or run a quick Google search on “breath work,” and “breathing techniques.” Personally, I love Nadi Shodhanana (alternate nostril breathing,) which balances the right and left brain hemispheres. There are different types of breathing techniques available depending on what you’re looking to achieve.
3) Warning, don’t be afraid of this first word: Commit to a morning practice. I know it can be difficult, and I know you’re too busy. But trust me, this is everything and it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. For me it’s short movement and breathwork followed by a short meditation, and The Yogi’s Breakfast either before or after my practice.
4) The key is consistency. One day it may feel like nothing is happening and the next, everything is happening. Keep steps 1-3 going consistently (yes that takes discipline and commitment) and you will notice some major shifts.
If you’re ready to begin the process of rebalancing your nervous system and rebooting your entire relationship with life, start listening to your body and your intuition and look out for tools and practices that seem interesting or “call” to you.
Written By Tanya Karine Windman