Notes from this week’s episode:
Ayurveda on hyper vigilance and hyper arousal
Ayurveda teaches that when we experience shock or trauma, either as big life-altering events, or as lesser traumas over time, the vata energy of the body is disturbed and affects our nerves and mental well-being.
When we are hyper vigilant we are stuck on red alert, and when we are hyper aroused we respond to regular events as if they are dangerous, even life-threatening.
When we’re in these hyper states we are experiencing everything as potential danger and our nervous system becomes exhausted. The fear can go into our dreams, our relationships, all areas of our life and every day events feel threatening.
Moving away from hyper states and on to a more regulated and healthy nervous system is going to take support over time. It’s not a quick fix. Fortunately, there are many great teachers around who can offer us support and guidance on the way. But we need to know that self-compassion and lifestyle changes are needed, and they will be needed over time.
Some practices that can help…
Due to the disturbance of vata, oil massage is always helpful. Whether it’s a full-body massage with specialized oils that you can get from Banyan Botanicals. Massaging the soles of your feet with oil, or if possible, finding a practitioner in your area that offers oil massage, or Shirodhara, a treatment where warm medicated sesame oil like Brahmi oil is trickled on to the forehead. This treatment is very healing for the nervous system.
Listening to your body
Ayurveda recommends that we attend to the natural needs of the body and don’t repress or delay responding bodily signals like the need to go to the bathroom, sneeze, drink some water etc.
When we’re in a hyper vigilant state we are driven by adrenalin and often ignore or delay the need to eat, rest, drink water and visit the bathroom. This puts the body and nervous system under further stress and sends a message that we’re not listening to, or trusting our body.
One way to begin calming hyper vigilance is to listen to and attend to body’s needs. When we respond with care and attention we switch to the parasympathetic nervous system state which tells our body and mind “I’ve got this” things are normal and being being attended to.
Being with our experiences
When we’re hyper vigilant, we can react in a variety of different ways, we might check out and dissociate, or we might be right there scanning everything.
Either way, there will be moments when we feel okay, and we need to look out for those. We might be laughing with a friend, or feel safe with our family, or be curious about something for a few minutes.
In those moments, it’s helpful to be with that experience. But lightly, we don’t need to change anything, just note “in this moment I’m okay” and notice how that feels.
Bach Flower Remedies
Aspen: is the remedy for when we have a sense of dread, but we can’t say what it is. We might be very anxious and shaky and preoccupied with feeling uneasy and on alert that something “bad” is going to happen.
Star of Bethlehem: is the remedy for when you have experienced trauma, recently or in the past.
Rock Rose: is the remedy for feeling frozen in fear, or terror.
Rock Rose and Star of Bethlehem are both found in Bach Flowers Rescue Remedy which is a combination of five flower essences for times when we need some extra support with stress or anxiety.
Dr. Carolyn Dean’s ReMag Liquid Magnesium
Why our nervous system needs magnesium: What You Need to Know About Magnesium Deficiency and Anxiety with Dr. Carolyn Dean
Affirmations are also recommended in Ayurveda to retrain the mind to feel safe. Using simple statements like “I am safe, and I am loved” or “All is well, I am safe.”
You can find a Tapping Session on our Patreon to help reprogram your mind from fearful thinking.
One helpful, and very easy practice, comes from Jin Shin Jyutsu an ancient Japanese form of energy healing. It’s also been adopted by Donna Eden and others as the Triple Warmer Meridian Hug.
Place your right hand under you left arm, about four inches down from the arm pit, and bring your left hand across your body to hold your right arm above the elbow. If you’re sitting, uncross your legs and have both feet flat on the floor. Take a few quiet minutes like this to breathe naturally, make sure your in breath is natural, you can lengthen your out breath a little for added calm.
This practice calms the flight or fight response and helps with feeling grounded and safe in the moment.
Coming Soon: Look for a guided version of this practice in our a Patreon.
The Calming Point
Both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine recommend this point for calming the heart and mind.
To find the point make a fist with your left hand and look for where your middle finger touches your palm. Now press that point with the thumb of your right hand for about a minute while you take deep steady breaths.
Relax your jaw and let your shoulders drop and relax as you hold the point and keep taking slow deep breaths.