It’s 2:30 a.m. I can’t sleep. My brain won’t turn off and my body can’t seem to quiet down. To my great annoyance, I’m running through my mental lists, cycling through a series of worries, details and projects in progress without making any actual headway.
Having learned the hard way that this endless loop will not terminate itself without some kind of intervention, I get out of bed, go downstairs and unroll my yoga mat. I light a candle, take some deep breaths, and do a few slow, gentle stretches.
Within minutes, I feel the smooth machinery of my parasympathetic (“rest and relax”) nervous system clicking into gear, and the frenetic jittering of my sympathetic (“fight or flight”) nervous system rumbling and grinding to a stubborn halt.
Simultaneously, I feel two consciousnesses confront each other: the ancient wisdom of my body, informed by eons of cumulative experience about what it needs, about what it can and can’t control — and the nattering rantings of my modern-day mind, replete with frustration and anxiety about an absurd laundry list of things that feel urgent, most of which I can do virtually nothing about.
(Read the rest of this article, which first appeared in Experience Life magazine.)