MEDS Day 44: Today I am working with my parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS)

I am grateful for yesterday’s…

  • working with university students on their creative project (I’ll help them pitch their proposal / plan to the university tomorrow)
  • my training colleague, who is great to work with, flexible, generous and fun
  • the university colleagues who were welcoming and warm
  • writing and QT (quiet time)
  • the practice-which-wasn’t…

‘Appreciating the seemingly boring practices from a heart-centred place’ basically involved me watching, from a heart-centred place of curiosity and compassion, how cleverly and completely I dodged some of the ‘boring’ practices and activities that would give me inner stability…! For example, last night, rather than quietly sitting down and finishing up the day, or doing my emails, at home after my afternoon of training, I handed my mind and body over to a fest of food/drink/radio/social-media/youtube. I felt ashamed as I did it… crouched down on the foot stool in the kitchen, next to the oven and radio… zoning out. I know it had been an intense day… but I was dismayed how quickly I crashed and burned. My vague intention had been to write an article that evening. Ha! So… what’s the learning? I’m sensing there’s something around stimming…

Stimming activities are indeed the ‘non-boring’ activities for you. They have an immersive quality to them. This writing is stimming for you. You are ‘lost’ in it, deliciously. Everything is flowing, light, regenerative, tickling, ‘stimulating‘. “Thank you for a stimulating evening!” is the very opposite to “My goodness, what a boring / tedious / draining evening…” Yes?

Yes! But, most of the executive or interpersonal tasks of life don’t fit into my stimming paradigm. Would that they did! I do like hanging up laundry (as does a fiend of mine..) – because it’s sensory, touchy, orderly… I wished I loved emails or something useful. Like coders stim with coding, or a graphic designer might get satisfaction out of creating something beautiful, or a scientist might get pleasure out of research…

Wait up, dear soul. Come back… You are looking for the sensory-psychological satisfaction externally…. This is the valuable learning: you can self-generate the stim sensation. What stimming does is allow your autonomic nervous system (ANS) to reset itself. It’s like taking the system offline so work can be done on it. You can do that yourself, by accustoming yourself to self-generated inner stability – which then you take out into the external world. 

Notice: when you did the ‘attend neutrally’ mediation practice [on Monday]…. when you then went out into the world, the world seemed so ‘easy’, so ‘flowy’, so ‘generous’. Yes? In the simplest terms, your mediation practice calmed your ANS so very much that you were able to perceive the world more truly as it is, which is generous, flowy and easy

So, would it be true to say we have a choice of how we run our days?:

Option 1:

  • stim out the morning delightfully (eg by writing)
  • crunch into the cold, harsh world and suck up the strain/pain
  • come home and crash, and stim out the evening with distraction / avoidance / dodging life’s exigencies

Option 2:

  • prepare the ANS for the day ahead, with meditation / qigong / gut-friendly food / energetic-balancing
  • move into the day keeping boundaries clear and enjoying the ‘generous, flowy and easy’ nature of things
  • come home and decompress carefully and appreciatively and mindfully…

You’re on to something powerful here. 

I avoid my morning practices. I’d love to jump out of bed – go for a jog/walk in the sunlight – practice qigong – do my extensive meditation… But I get cowed by the day ahead… and I take my coffee and nuzzle into bed… I do all my morning writing and meditation in bed….

No wonder the world feels like a harsh, hard shock to your ANS when you emerge… You are asking it to go from 0 – 60. 

What even IS the autonomic nervous system? I don’t know. And what was the LightBody we talked about the other day? And are they related?

[Goes and researches ANS]

Oh wow, the ANS is just the Sympathetic (SNS = Flight or flight) and Parasympathetic (PSNS = Rest & Digest) Nervous Systems… as I teach in my training… 🙂 This Khan Academy video is brilliant.

Autonomic Nervous System Autonomic Nervous System

So, I imagine, the mediation and qigong and walking and breathing stimulate the PSNS (parasympathetic nervous system) and calm the SNS. I’ve been using stimming to take the edge off my SNS…. Better to use the former, as I did more diligently in 2016-7 healing from the challenging period running up to 2015.

And what of ANS and ‘Lightbody’?

[Goes and researches ANS and Light-body]

Lise Renee here – I’m going to print and read this

And Dharma Fellowship here say:

The Light-body and Its Internal Circuitry

The human light-body (phra-ba’i lus) is the subtle bio-magnetic field in which the physical body is embedded. This psychically generated light-body is an energy template that both orders and parallels the physical body. It extends around the physical body like an electromagnetic egg, forming a spherical bubble about three feet beyond the skin surface, with more subtle radiations flowing out to a distance of as much as fifteen feet. This ‘alternate’ body (for which reason it has sometimes been called the doppelganger) consists of many energy-layers and centers interconnected throughout by a complex circuitry, in many ways matching the physical nervous system. It is, overall, and like the physical body, a multilayered structure.

You know what we’re going to say…

Yes… Focus on the physical ANS for now. Absorb the LightBody stuff lightly… Stay physical.

Exactly. Physical = ‘boring’ = healing. Metaphysical = exciting / tickling / stimming = ungrounding.

You mentioned Option 1 and Option 2. What would it look like to get Option 2 off the ground (again)?

I guess I fear it would feel like tearing myself out of a dream…

Excellent. That’s a great starting place. Because if you can stand that process of leaving the ‘dream’, then you are also ‘spelled’ from the ‘nightmare’ of chaotic, unstable, dodging, overwhelming days. You can put your hand on the tiller of your ship again. And really, the shift is not a big one for you. You’ve done it before. You know it works. 

So, we’re talking about using ways of activating the PSNS and calming the SNS on a daily basis, before entering ‘the world’, before putting on the ‘Shop Open’ sign, before becoming ‘Available’ for the day? Even if it hurts… Even if I want to stim into oblivion with all my mind…

Yes, sweet soul. That’s right. Fabulous work. 

Ok. Lush. I’m feeling this. This is what the MEDS project is about, right? Embodiment… and the crucial, functional, balance-able, receptive elements of the body are the PSNS (and the SNS). 

Today you are invited to work with your beautiful parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS), and discover how delicious life is within it’s gently cupped hands. 

Thank you.

Today I am working with my parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS)



20 mins of MEDITATION? NO… How did I drop that after all this?!


ONE HOUR OF EXERCISE? NO – in bed all day (til evening)



DRY today? NO

MORNING: My muesli, chicken/courgette/saurkraut, tea, coffee

AFTERNOON: rice&chicken at noodle bar; cider



Screens off:    12.20pm      Lights out: 12.30pm

Wake up the next day:          7.45am          Total sleep: 7h

Researched during the day:

Keep Calm with Earthing and activate your parasympathetic nervous system

Earthing for activating the PSNS: 

On the topic of earthing and the nervous system, Dr Stephen Sinatra has said that:

As a cardiologist, I repeatedly treated the human wreckage that stress (acute or chronic sympathetic overdrive) can exact. In trying to rebuild and restore the wreckage, I have applied the best tools that both conventional and alternative medicine has to offer. Reconnecting the body to the Earth offers perhaps the most natural tool available anywhere. I’ve seen this simple remedy do some amazing things.


Breathe out....
Breathe out….

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