Attuning to Signal
“Some of us remember the days we listened to the radio with analogue dials. We turned the dial to get to our favorite radio station, and heard static as we moved the dial in between stations. The static was the noise, making it hard to hear the clear radio signal of the music. The closer we got to the clear signal of the music, the less noise. Consider challenges and related mental chatter as the noise and our unchangeable and inherently worthy essence as the signal of our BEing.” Crosbie Watler
Elder Geraldine Manson refers to this inner signal as our pilot light. Often, the noise we are managing is a combination of stuck energies in our body and emotional transference (when we feel others’ emotions like they are our own) from others. The degree to which we can tune into our pilot light and the authentic values, desires, and sense of meaning we find there, the less threatening the passing noise will be. When we address it from a place of strength, we are more likely to keep it in perspective so we can tend to compassionately as a dear “other”, and when ready, clear it out. If we cannot clear out the noise, at the very least, we can turn the volume down.
“The signal is the truth. The noise is what distracts us from the truth” (Silver, 2012, p.17)
When the noise is clouding the signal of who we are, keeping us ‘in our heads’, it’s time to step back to expand our awareness of what is actually happening. From this more objective place, we can engage in a practice that regulates our nervous systems; brings the mind back into relationship with the spirit-body, and moves us back into alignment with our pilot light. To tune back into signal, we can use practices that resonate for us – calming the mind and body so that we can come back into alignment. If you already have strategies that work to tune you back in, great! If not, try on a few of the below practices, and elsewhere in this guide, and notice what resonates in your body.
Pause to Strengthen Self-Regulation: The 4/7/8 Breath
One of many ways to interrupt the stress response is with the 4-7-8 breath. It’s simply inhaling for four through the nose, holding for seven, and exhaling for eight through your mouth.
It is normal to feel lightheaded. In fact, this light-headedness is a good cue that you are impacting the mind-body enough to interrupt the stress response. If you don’t experience this, try extending the breath count (or slow down your counting) or doing more rounds of the breathing.
When settled in a safe place (not while driving), begin by noting how anxious you are feeling right now on a scale from 1-10.
- Start by fully emptying your lungs with a long exhaling through your mouth.
- Inhale for four seconds through your nose (rest your tongue on your upper palate while youinhale).
- Hold the air in your lungs for seven seconds.
- Making a whoosh sound, exhale through your mouth for a full eight seconds.
Practice three complete rounds of this practice.
Now check in again – on a scale of 1-10, how anxious are you now?
Three rounds of this breathing are often enough to relax the nervous system. Adapt the practice to suit you. Continue until you’ve reached a state of calm, at least temporarily resolving the felt threat.
While this practice does not remove the event that felt threatening, it will provide the space necessary to step back from it so you can navigate the challenge more objectively and self-compassionately.
Energy Medicine by Helen Watler
Physicists have corroborated what indigenous people have known since time immemorial: Everything is energy and there are unseen realities we simply cannot sense. We can, however, be in relationship with unseen energies (Oschman, 2000).
Science tells us that 5 percent of the universe is visible, observable matter. Within this small fraction, the human eye can only perceive matter that emits light within a certain frequency. While birds can perceive magnetic fields and snakes can see in the infrared, we detect only visible light.
We can’t see our energy systems, but they have been mapped by ancient cultures the world over. For example, we can learn about the meridian system from Chinese Medicine and chakras from Ayurvedic traditions. Indigenous cultures have extended this knowledge of an energetic presence to the land and all it contains. A key tenet is to look after the land, a responsibility passed down for thousands of years.
When we know about our energy system, we can learn ways to interact with it and help ourselves when life’s inevitable challenges arise.
Energy exercises have been developed to help our energy systems repattern to remain free-flowing, grounded and balanced. There are simple, easy practices that can help shift our nervous systems from fight/flight/freeze back to rest/digest mode.
The Daily Energy Routine series of exercises is a tool that helps to promote balance, health and vitality. It takes just a few minutes a day to complete the routine, and will be reviewed in week 2 and a video link will be provided. If you are interested you can view a video of the routine here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di5Ua44iuXc&app=desktop.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or ‘tapping’ is another effective tool and is explained briefly below. It will also be reviewed in week 2.
Pause to Strengthen: Emotional Freedom Technique
EFT or ‘tapping’ is a technique that utilizes the knowledge of acupressure points and energy meridians, and has been applied to everything from chronic pain, sx of PTSD, reducing food cravings, and anxiety. The video below briefly explains the basic premise of EFT, and tapping points are illustrated on the next page. While the video is focused on reducing food and drink cravings, it contains a brief, helpful description of how ‘tapping’ can calm our nervous system and promote feelings of wellness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpAICLoh8yg
Pause to Strengthen: RAIN
RAIN (Brach, 2019) is another powerful tool we can use to ground ourselves when we feel threatened. Tara Brach’s website http://www.tarabrach.com contains free guided meditations through the four steps of RAIN to help you get started.
Recognize what is going on.
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is; Investigate with interest and care;
Nurture with self-compassion.