It only took a sudden breeze to get the aspens moving and singing. From their strong flexible trunks and swaying branches came the song of their heart shaped leaves. Throughout their pierced crowns one could see blue patches of the sky that carried their music across the Island. The tall trees sang swish swish each time the air stirred their leaves. You could also hear notes similar to that of the Atlantic’s when its salty foam scrubbed the sandy shore. This orchestration she heard and saw without knowing and seeing. Her mind was elsewhere yet she heard and saw somehow without hearing and seeing, or knowing.
She had gone into the yard to pick some sage from the herb garden. As she walked towards the low-lying plants, she remembered a time of much anger and bickering.
“Why would I want…”
“Forget I asked…”
Much energy was wasted between them. Much love lost, too.
At the Center where she had decided to take her problems, she learned that anger and bickering were complex issues. It would take time to learn to control them but first she must learn to understand what was now known about being human. She must learn the new discoveries about the human body and how it functions. At first, she shuddered to think that a greatly evolved nerve with remnants from prehistoric days ran through her system and directed both her body and mind’s reactions to her experiences. She learned that she could control this nerve which was called the vagal nerve to a great and very necessary extent. By this she could partner with her survival instinct, another amazing aspect of being a living being instead of being something like a rock. She could direct the vagal nerve by certain practices. For example, breathing a certain way calmed an anxious beat of the heart, stretching and exercising cleared energy blockages stored deep inside one’s cells and focusing one’s mind on positive thoughts kept intrusive ones away.
She learned when to be assertive, when to pocket insults and when to fight. She practiced letting others express their frustration without her having constantly to be on the defense. With this change in her perspective, she not only had a better life with her spouse but also experienced more enduring friendships with others.
Understanding came slowly then swiftly. With proper breath work and walks with intention, like the ones she now took under the aspens, self-reproach and self-doubt, the greatest of her personal challenges were the first to go. She need not tangle with every thought or mood. There were times to engage and times to back off and that was okay. Her shoulders relaxed; she remained fully present and she sighed the pilgrim’s sigh of relief.
She looked at the aspens with their strong flexible trunks and branches and musical leaves. She saw them and listened to the sound of their music. The swish swish of their heart-shaped leaves projected a cleansing fruitful sound, which this time she heard loud and clear, because this time she saw and heard with an attentive eye and ear.
Diane Lundegaard is a Polyvagal Enthusiast. The Polyvagal Theory was created by Dr. Stephen Porges. Learn more through the Polyvagal Institute or on the Stuck Not Broken podcast from Justin Sunseri.