Fear can definitely postpone you taking the leap into a big life change, as Erin Kintzing shared in last week’s post Quitting my Corporate Job: The Ultimate Act of Self-Care. In Erin’s case, she knew she wanted to leave for two and a half years before she was ready to pack it up and walk away.
It is human nature to cling to the status quo when life is working “well enough.” It’s normal to try to preserve your sense of safety, especially if you’re doing what society validates as the right choice. It’s natural to hang on to what you know, even when life could be so much better if you dared to take a risk and make a big shift.
From the biological perspective, this need for safety and stability is very firmly rooted in your own survival programming. Steve Porges, author of The Polyvagal Theory, states “by processing information from the environment through the senses, the nervous system continually evaluates risk. I have coined the term neuroception to describe how neural circuits distinguish whether situations or people are safe, dangerous, or life-threatening” (P. 11).
According to Porges’ perspective, this quarter-decade Pause that Erin took very well might have been completely unconscious: “Because of our heritage as a species, neuroception takes place in primitive parts of the brain, without our conscious awareness” (P. 11). In other words, you are being driven by survival cues way below your prefrontal cortex or ‘thinking mind’. You will likely not be able to make a big life change until you have wired yourself, on a neurological level, to feel safe enough to do so.
Erin noted that it was during the Level 1 Yoga Tune Up® training where she experienced a whole new set of feelings that gave her the insight that it was time to move on. I reached out to her to find out which exact self-care practices she felt most useful, and her response made so much sense from the neurological perspective. I’m going to share them with you below to help you access the safety, centeredness and courage to approach your own big life changes.
1. Get Grounded by Massaging the Soles of Your Feet
Rolling out the soles of your feet on Roll Model Method therapy balls, as Erin recommends, is a powerful way to engender feelings of groundedness and stability. Not only are you sensing your feet, you are awakening your proprioceptors (sensory receptors that tell you where you are in space) in the soles of your feet to receive even greater sensation there — and feel even more grounded.
2. Get Centered with Core Work
Core strength often has a direct correlation to core confidence. Erin reported that several of the core practices in the Level 1 training helped prepare her for this life change. Particularly she noted the Revolved Abdominal Pose. This dynamic twisting pose activates a variety of abdominal muscles from the obliques to the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, rotators of the spine and more.
3. Build Courage with Meditation
Meditation and mindset practices may be the most powerful of all when it comes to preparing for big life change. By practicing sitting still and “being with what is” you can increase your range of resilience to be present during the ups and downs that come your way.
By focusing on your heart and what you really want to do/achieve/create/feel, you can forge new possibilities in your unconscious mind. Even though meditation seems like such a simple and withdrawn practice, it can help you build the courage to take massive action in the outer world.
Ghandi was famous for saying that on days he had extra big challenges to take on, he had to meditate twice as long.
Big Change is in Your Nature
A significant aspect of Erin’s story is her observation of how in the cafe on the way home after the training, she had a whole new set of feelings that she didn’t want to lose. She felt calm. She felt connected. She felt content. She started entertaining the possibility that this could be her new reality, or as we say in Yoga Tune Up, her “new normal”.
When your feelings start to shift like this, you know you’ve reconditioned your body and mind to step into your next big change. It is certainly part of your evolutionary wiring to avoid risk and change at times. But it is also essentially your nature to evolve.
At this point in Erin’s story, I am reminded of the Anaïs Nin quote, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Upon checking in with Erin, she shared how she’s continued with this work every day. “Over time, I have woven these three practices into my morning routine. They set my day up in an intentional way. They have helped me to hear the voice of my inner wisdom, the one I know is inherently me and the one I can trust. This practice has also helped me to be patient with myself – if I don’t feel ready to make the decision, I wait. Now I am more able to be still and listen, and to take action when it feels right.”
As you employ these practices, what seemed like a big scary change will likely reduce in size. If you’re lucky, it might even transform into a positive feeling challenge: An opportunity to become even more truly yourself and pursue the life path you are truly called to follow.