A student's view of shifting the nervous system
Updated: Feb 26
One of the things I’ve been reflecting on lately is the idea of balancing the nervous system through this method. The primary focus of this practice is to shift away from our reactive state to a much slower pace inside. To make the shift to a pace that feels not wanting to do anything or almost falling asleep.
At the Practice Intensive in January Francisco mentioned, “The time to begin your practice is the moment you don’t feel like doing anything.” This might seem odd but he’s right. It’s hard to feel anxious, critical or reactive when we feel like we want to fall asleep.
Michael is one of my longtime students and has been with me for the past 5 years. He’s a 55-year-old male who describes himself as a highly productive project manager and fitness expert. Michael had this to say about the process of making this shift:
"It took me 3 full months of attending class 2x per week to figure out what Renae was talking about when she said, 'Allow your mind to shift away from your thoughts and toward what you feel as physical sensation.'
Actually, I didn’t figure it out. One day, out of the blue, Renae asked me a question right in the middle of class.
I was sitting there with my legs crossed bored out of my mind. I kept thinking, 'When is this class going to come to an end? Why am I here? What benefit am I gaining? I’m not even getting sore after this class!'
She said, 'What do you feel?' I said, 'I don’t know. Nothing. I’m fine.' Then she said, 'What do you feel?' again. By now, I had to give her an answer so I concentrated on feeling something, anything. Then, I said, 'I feel my hamstring.' Then she said, 'Where?'
To my surprise, I pointed exactly to the outside of my hip. I FELT MY HIP. I couldn’t believe it. Then, the moment I allowed myself to feel my hip I felt tears forming in my eyes. I was learning to feel my body for the very first time. Reflecting on that moment the tears revealed that my nervous system had shifted.
For the first time, I was consciously aware that I was present in my own body. It felt like a HUGE weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
For me, shifting my nervous system has been a learned process. I suspect this is true for everyone.
I was hooked from that moment on. What I’ve learned: I really can’t control these thoughts of mine but I can focus on something else. I can focus on feeling physical sensations. What I’ve found is that the more I keep my focus on what I’m feeling the more I’m able to let go of my thoughts.
Now, five years later, I do get sore from time to time. I sleep better. And, more importantly, the process of learning to balance my nervous system has me making clearer decisions at work.
It’s still a process for me but it’s no longer a boring one. Each practice gives me a deeper, richer experience as I explore my inner landscape, understanding the needs of my body and allowing my brain to create a map of everything that makes up me."