The 3D Nervous System - "Squat & Punch" Exercise by Jeanette Amlie
The Nervous System in 3 Dimensions
Many people are familiar with the right & left brain aspects of the human nervous system, but this is only one dimension. This exercise that I developed during my own process of transformation activates this left/right resource by punching alternately with the arms, but it also goes two steps further. One of the amazing mentors I worked with in Santa Fe, NM was Lee Cartwright who opened my eyes & my body to the other two dimensions that are less often addressed.
It is true that we can directly affect our reactivity to an old memory or emotional trigger by alternately stimulating the right & left hemispheres of the brain, but by addressing the top & bottom orientation of the human organism we can touch into our ability to either be really grounded in our bodies or leave our bodies behind. For when the organism is threatened in a situation that seems unresolvable, our consciousness can also travel upward, either into our head, or right out of our bodies. Cranial Sacral Bodywork is a modality that works extensively with this dimension by attending to the movement of our energy from the top of our heads to the base of our spines.
This tendency for our consciousness to "leave our bodies" has been documented fairly extensively in emergency medical situations. In fact, I've been told by my sister who is a nurse in an intensive care unit in a hospital that they have at times put things on the tops of high shelves in ER, (like a Barbie doll for instance), that no one can see and after a near death experience, when asked if they observed anything unusual, the patient will sometimes remember noticing the unusual object.
I have also found that many people who have had early life traumas who later embark on a spiritual path often are very good at metaphysical journeying out of their bodies, but have much more difficulty describing how the bottoms of their feet feel. So this particular exercise I have found to be very useful for helping to "call our spirits home" you might say & fully embodying our forms. By bouncing up & down in a squat we are not only stimulating the major muscle groups of the "fight or flight" aspects of the sympathetic nervous system, it also addresses this up & down orientation at the same time.
Yet there is one more dimension that this addresses also, which is front to back. In my training & experience this axis of the nervous system refers to our ability to engage or retreat from the world & is directly tied to our personality aspects of introspection & extroversion.
The front of our bodies are obviously designed for interaction as our social interactive features are located on our face on the front of our head & our arms are designed to work in front of our bodies. Whereas the backs of our bodies are protected only when we are prone & we can see the tendency to be vulnerable here by the common phrase "don't worry, I've got your back".
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And so the action of the arms moving forward & backward as they punch address this dimension. In addition, if you are able to GENTLY, tap a cushion or something in front of you while punching it will give sensory stimulus to the hands as well. This is not meant as a cathartic action to vent repressed anger, but rather it can give fulfillment to held impulses that were repressed in an earlier situation.
So by engaging in this exercise briefly we can activate all three dimensions of the nervous system, which I have found to be particularly useful when the organism feels either like it is emotionally overwhelmed or shutting down & numbing out.
Of utmost importance, and really the key to the therapeutic aspects of this exercise, is to lie down & quietly begin the process of somatic-self inquiry. For by noticing the subtle changes in the body like tingling, sighing, twitching, crying, stomach gurgling etc. (to name only a few), we allow the old held "charge" to literally be changed & re-patterned.
When we pair this exercise with something we know we are triggered about, it can permanently shift our reactivity around that issue. Mind you, if the trigger is old & systemic it may take more than one time to see permanent affects, but this is an effective way of releasing much of the original charge of the experience. And I cannot emphasize enough that taking the opportunity to interrupt a situation when we are triggered, rather than waiting to attend to it later can also give us quicker results.
Lastly, all of these tools & techniques are really just ways to help free the restrictions in the body in order to liberate the mind. So as helpful as these can be, it is our willingness to spend time quietly discovering the peace that is at our core & has always been the essence of who we are, that will offer the only true freedom from that drama & trauma of our dualistic conditioning. And of course, there is no better time for this kind of self exploration than when we have just finished one of these exercises!
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Blessings ♡ Jeanette Amlie