“I can’t control my feelings.”
“Well, then, by all means, you should let them control you.”
This is my most favorite quote from the phenomenal show Ted Lasso. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and binge-watch both seasons. Do the free trial of AppleTV, it’s worth it!
Anyway, Roy Kent is the tough-as-nails veteran player who doesn’t really “do” feelings and Ted Lasso is the eternally optimistic coach who’s always throwing out little life lessons like the one above. And this one hits home. Yes, feelings will arise unbidden, but you CAN control how you react to them (thank you meditation practice).
The same is true when it comes to our breath and our body awareness. This Ted Lasso quote immediately took me back to a book quote I read almost 20 years ago:
His statement made me think of a Buddhist master I had recently met, who had said that the East’s “most profound gift” to the West had been “the ancient science and discipline of the breath.” Simply coming to think of my breath as malleable, as a tool that should be sharpened and used, was a revelation to me, having subsisted on shallow, stunted half breaths for most of my life.
Too often we are unaware of our breathing, which can become shallow or labored depending on our physical activity or our emotions. We let it control us. But that doesn’t have to be the case. “Inhale to prepare” we often hear in Pilates class. We can also ask the breath to help us focus or become calm in a stressful situation.
Likewise, when I’m feeling disconnected or unfocused, there are strategies I can use to help me feel more organized and alert. The PIlates in Holland teachers have been learning from Kelly Hale to “access gentle developmental movements that align the right and left side of the brain, body, and heart space bringing calm integration to the nervous system.”
Kelly shares a great way to start your day, by finding gentle movement and brain-body regulation before even getting out of bed. It can help you be less likely to succumb to stress or fatigue throughout the day.
And here, Mandy helps you find your center or refocus with a PACE variation. PACE is a Brain Gym exercise that stands for Positive, Action, Clear, Energized and helps improve concentration, organization, communication, and memory. Mandy focuses on the PAC (though they are done in the reverse order, CAP).
- Clear: This exercise uses acupressure points to improve blood flow to “wake up” the brain and stay alert. It helps both for clear vision and to clear toxins from the body.
- Action: The right side of our brain controls the left side of our body and vice versa. By doing a simple Cross Crawl or other cross-lateral movements, the two sides of the brain have to communicate, activating and coordinating both sides of our body. This technique also slightly elevates the heart rate and helps to stabilize the hips, improving overall balance, coordination, and structural integrity of the body.
- Positive: Hook-ups calm both body and brain by bringing all the energy to the midline and organizing the vestibular or balance system. Also known as pretzels, they help you to remain present and create a positive mind & body connection.
- (Not shown below is that PACE often starts with a sip of water for Energy: Water comprises more of the brain (with estimates of 75-90%) than any other organ in the body. Sip plenty of water throughout the day. Water activates and energizes nerve transmission and electrical and chemical actions in the brain/ body system.)
Even in a public setting like at work or in a social situation, you can use a discreet hook-up to calm and reorganize yourself.
We may not think of breath and our nervous system automatically when thinking of our physical health, but they are huge parts of our overall well-being. While not technically hidden muscles, these are definitely hidden reset buttons. Give them a try and see the difference they can make for you.