How to Strengthen the Nervous System

Nervous system capacity is maybe the most critical asset we can cultivate if we want to live a deeply engaged and fulfilling life.

The nervous system corresponds directly to our physical health, our ability to experience joy and pleasure, our ability to withstand pressure and challenge, our feelings of wellbeing, and our depth of intimacy.

When we are stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious, we naturally attempt to relax. This makes logical sense, but if the nervous system is too weak to handle the energy in our body or the energy stimulated by our life, relaxing alone will not produce the results we were are hoping for. Without a strong nervous system, we can continue to feel incapable of "handling" life. 

At a fundamental level, life is experienced by the body/mind as energy. For us to meet that energy positively, we must be able to hold and contain it. The nervous system is, in essence, the energy "container" of the body. 

We need our nervous systems to be strong and resilient to meet internal and external stressors. This will allow us to navigate even the most challenging aspects of life with grace and ease. 

When the nervous system is strong, we can expand without collapse; we can catalyze lasting change; we can move more energy through the body/mind; we can open for deeper intimacy with self, other, and life. 


> Take cold showers or a cold plunge. Read about the yogic version of this HERE

> Exercise -- especially weight lifting. I've created a playlist on Youtube of some of my favorite online workouts. I like to listen to very loud music when I exercise. Here's my favorite workout playlist from Spotify. Read more HERE.

> Down dog (or Triangle pose) -- hold for 3 minutes.

> All kinds of pranayama and breathwork (be mindful not to go too fast/too deep with cathartic breathwork). My favorite is this Kundalini Yoga pranayama for Strength and Stamina

> Meditate. Our nervous system capacity increases when we can hold more energy in the body. Subtle body energy can be increased via present moment awareness, conscious breath, and silent meditation. If meditating to strengthen the nervous system, you need to commit to holding completely still, with the eyes closed and no talking. If you start getting uncomfortable, fidgety, or anxious, you know you've met your edge. To strengthen your capacity, hold steady and move past your edge. I suggest a minimum of 20 minutes. 

Stop leaking your energy. If your capacity to hold energy is not yet developed, then you will unconsciously look for ways to leak it. This could look like scrolling on the phone, hyperactivity, excessive talking, smoking, drinking, or any other compulsive behavior, spending money, or even self-sabotage behavior. Instead, notice when you are starting to feel internally pressurized. This may not be negative energy, simply more energy than the body is used to holding. To increase capacity, try circulating your energy through the body instead of attempting to leak it. You can do this by imagining you're breathing energy up the spine and down the front of the body. 

> Skip the caffeine. Or, if that's just not going to happen, try to wait until after 10:00 am to consume caffeine. If you're a coffee drinker, switch regular coffee for a bulletproof-type version with grass-fed butter and MTC oil. 

> Get adequate amounts of high-quality protein in your diet. Blood-sugar imbalance greatly taxes the nervous system. Be sure you are eating good protein frequently enough to keep your blood sugar stable. Be sure to start your day with protein as well. 

> Turn off the electronics! Not only do the EMFs from cell phones, tablets, and computers disrupt nervous system function, but the speed at which things move on these devices is overwhelming to the nervous system, i.e., images moving quickly via scrolling, information coming quickly via googling, fast typing, etc. If using electronics, try to avoid early morning and evening use. Delaying hopping on your phone or computer until after 10:00 am is helpful, if possible. Turn the electronics off in the evening, particularly after sundown.

> Do one thing every day that scares you

> Move towards your discomfort instead of away from it. Read this note

> Move, speak, and do things that are out of your norm. Any time you act in new ways, you are creating new neural pathways and expanding your nervous system. 

> Dance! Specifically, dance in ways that are not your usual patterns of moving. 

> It is my opinion that much nervous system failure is due to the lack of flow state allowed for in western culture. This rigidity compromises the nervous system. A rigid nervous system is a weak nervous system. To connect with a flow dynamic, you can consciously engage more yin, or feminine, principles. You can also try somatic exercises such as those shown HERE, which re-inspire natural fluidity in the body. Qigong is also excellent for this purpose. 

> Excess Vata or imbalanced Vata energy can deplete the nervous system. For more information on managing Vata imbalance, check out THIS article. 



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