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'The Simplest Fix is the One Everyone Ignores'

A few months ago, I read a newsletter by an author and blogger I've always enjoyed - Mark Manson. It struck a chord. I left it in my inbox, marked as unread, so I would come back to it. Which I did, again and again and again. It was titled, 'The simplest fix is the one everyone ignores'. In the body of the newsletter, Mark went on to say, 'One thing for you to think about ... Most of what we perceive as problems will magically go away after a walk outside and a good night’s sleep'.

Now, my nose wrinkled at the word 'magically'. I don't like the insinuation of a magical cure all.

I am not a fan of 'hacks' to wellbeing or the idea that our personal and relational challenges aren't complex and nuanced. The 'simplest fix' he suggests won't eradicate all of the challenges that traumatic experiences or major overwhelm leave in our lives and it won't necessarily be the answer to major periods of crisis or uncertainty. However, even as I acknowledge this, I'm also aware that these simple fixes really are things that can dial down the intensity of what's going on inside and help us find more space to be with what's there. This is the healing power of RESOURCES.

A resource is something that can contain, soothe, and slow down the intensity of our experience. I am always amazed at what is potentiated when we are as resourced as possible in the most basic, foundational ways - well rested, moving our body simply and enjoyably, and putting ourselves into the expansive field of nature.

There are two main categories of resources - internal and external. An internal or somatic resource is a support or anchor that we can access inside our own body which helps us ride a wave/s of activation or be more present in the moment. Examples may include bringing attention to your breath, noticing someplace in your body where you feel good or OK, sensing your feet in contact with the ground, or your body in contact with the chair. Somatic resources are powerful and empowering because we use our own body, paying attention to what happens inside, as a means to soothe and support ourselves.

As a yoga practitioner for over 20 years, I enjoy resourcing myself somatically - with my attention in my body. And yet, I am also a person who experiences a lot of body sensations when I'm challenged. And when I'm overwhelmed, I feel intensely squeezed inside. A long running internal story pops up, 'I have to do it all by myself'. For these reasons, I'm also a huge fan of external resources, recruiting external 'allies' to support us. I find that there's something about going outside first, being moved by or helped by something or someone else that can ease the feeling of hard work, endless self effort, and/or isolation.

The impact of trauma can render many of us feeling unsafe in our bodies or very overwhelmed by what we find there. Starting inside can be too much.

External resources direct attention outside of ourselves and into the world around us. When our inner experience is chaotic or challenging, these resources can offer respite while down regulating our system. Some examples could include a warm bath, a hug from a friend, sitting under a special tree for awhile, doing a specific activity like swimming, reading engrossing fiction, cooking, or dancing. In many ways, external resources also become internal resources because when something changes (heart rate slows, our breathing calms, heat ebbs, our mind clears) in response to a resourcing activity, place, or person, we have an opportunity to notice what happens inside, track it, and stay with/integrate it.

This year for me, it is especially the third thing I mentioned above - putting myself into the expansive field of nature - that has made a noticeable difference to my wellbeing. 'Self regulation' is a buzzword at the moment and (while a bit overused and misunderstood) it is certainly a valid concept to learn and skill to develop. However, when I'm outside, in relationship to ground and sky, surrounded by bush or gazing at the sea, I feel more like I put myself into 'source regulation'.

Here, I open my attention outward to notice, sense, and relate to a much larger environment than the skin bounded container of my body. And somehow, whatever I'm feeling inside that is uncomfortable, unpleasant, and challenging just has more space to be or to move. Things feel better.

I realise the phrase 'expansive field of nature' may sound grandiose. To clarify, I'm not talking about needing to go deep into the bush for a weekend or place yourself amidst awe inspiring mountains (although you certainly can if you have time and space). I suggest that you start where you are, with exploring an outdoor resource that is readily accessible to you. I live in an urban suburb, in a tiny half villa. We have a small wooden deck, bricked in patio, and plants in pots. And when things feel intense, I simply go outside to my own backyard and lie on the deck.

From there, the surrounding buildings disappear, a window of sky opens above me. There's a sense that something moves inside. I feel different.

Sometimes just naming and noticing this is enough.

And when I have and make the time, I can pause with more intention and integrate this. What feels different now? What exactly has changed inside? Where do I feel or notice that difference most strongly? And when I pay attention to that, what happens next?

Have you had experiences with nature or being outdoors that have resourced you? I always love hearing others' stories and thoughts if you feel moved to reach out and share.


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