Rock Your Cares Away

Just looking ahead in my mindfulness notes and I came upon something I had half forgotten about. Rocking! Huh?

I suspect many of you are parents or have cared for a fussy child sometime in your lives. What is the first thing most people do when they pick up a crying infant? They rock, of course. It is almost instinctual to do so.

When big people are in a state of panic, the ‘new’ reasoning brain shuts down and the ‘old’ emotional and reactive brain takes over.

This old emotional brain does not calm well through words or reasoning but it does calm well with rhythmic activity.

The rhythmic activity can be walking, dancing or even just swaying back and forth. It can also be regular, deep breathing or something called a butterfly hug.

What is a butterfly hug? It is a self-soothing technique. You link your thumbs and put your hands on your upper chest. Then you rhythmically tap your shoulders, or as close to your shoulders as you can get.

Something else you can do for stress, when your old brain is working overtime, is sit in a rocking chair and rock. Once more grandma had it right and she never knew it, or at least we never gave her credit.

Rocking in a rocking chair has been found to have great physical and emotional benefits. it increases muscle tone. It calms dementia patients so that they require less medication. Rocking speeds recovery from surgery. It is a natural way of regulating the lower brain areas, calming things down and getting them in sync.

And why do I mention rocking when I teach mindfulness? Because it is a soothing, repetitive activity on which to focus your attention. When your mind starts to wander bring it back to the squeak of the chair, the feeling of your calves slowly pushing and releasing, anything soothing and repetitive.

Rocking allows you to activate some of the natural brain pathways that sooth. It gives you something to focus on when you meditate. Like any of the skills I use, it is not a cure-all, but it helps.

Next: THAT VOICE INSIDE YOUR HEAD

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