We are a sleep deprived society. Research outlines the cost of inadequate sleep to our mental and physical health, our immune functioning and the cost to workplaces. The recommendations for a good sleep routine are well documented. However the benefits of music listening for improved physiological relaxation and sleep are less known. Find out how music listening may be your ticket to a better night’s sleep.
Turning inward for connection & change
We are very lucky here in Tasmania, to be able to experience the kaleidoscope and transformation of the 'turning of the fagus': the gorgeous. autumnal colour shift of the local deciduous myrtle beech, the 'nothofagus gunnii'. Green throughout the year, the cold of autumn brings whole valleys of the 'fagus' into brilliant shades of greens, golds, burnt oranges and russet.
Autumn is my favourite time of the year.
For me, autumn brings a symphony of colour and a feast for the senses:
- the golden, amber light (particularly beautiful at sunrise and sunset)
- sour rosehips
- bright happy yellow
- crunchy apple green
- rich, dark velvet green
- burnt orange emerging out of yellows
- scarlet berries and the dark wine-red of the ash trees
- the crackle and crunch of fallen leaves underfoot
- toadstools emerging to feed our imaginations with elves and fairytales
- clouds that morph against shifting backdrops, from bright blue, to honey hues, to magenta skies
It is a sensory delight!
In addition to this comes the darkness earlier in the evening, and with it, the drop in temperature, signalling a time for comfort, cosiness and space for reflection.
A time to go inward.
Why am I talking about this?
In many ways the feel and symbolism of autumn have informed the creation of Tempo:
- the sense of warmth and regrowth
- turning inward and connecting with the self
- gathering and connecting with family and friends by the fire
- the natural cycles of death and regrowth
- a time of change
In an ideal world, autumn is a time of rest and reflection.
However, for many of us, it is hard to switch off from our left-brained hamster-wheel of
- looking over to-do lists
- checking email, social media, messages
- completing tasks
- focusing on the small slices of time available to us, and
- staying in the detail, planning and doing of our lives
This is even more the case if we are struggling with our mental health or are stressed - have you noticed that we become far more rigid and controlling when we are stressed?
In his ground-breaking book, ‘The Master & his Emissary’, Iain McGilchrist, outlines how the two hemispheres of the brain see the world so differently: the right is devoted to the big picture, making sense through patterns and symbolism, relationship without judgement, and the present moment; whilst the left hemisphere focuses on the small detail and the separate units of knowledge, with targeted precision.
Both are essential.
Yet, within our Western culture, we have become increasingly focused on the left-brained detail, with the call to order, control, understand and be logical. Whilst the more right-brained focus on being open, relational, connected and present, has become somehow less important.
We have less time, experience of and practice with
- being quiet
- doing nothing in particular
- experiencing wonder and awe, and
- allowing ourselves moments of care and comfort
We have less ease with just being.
However, it is in connecting with these parts of ourselves, that are often out of our conscious awareness, that we can be present, gain insight and feel safer in ourselves and in relation to others.
There is good reason that information and culture have been passed on through stories, dance, rhythm and song over the ages. These practices allow us to remember the detail whilst also being immersed in the mystery. That is, they incorporate both the detail of the conscious, left brain and the wonder and big picture of the unconscious right brain.
What are some of the ways that we turn inward at Tempo?
Often when stressed, we are so caught up in the minutiae of our problems that we “can’t see the wood for the trees”. Through music listening, drawing, bringing awareness to your sensations, movement, connecting with your breath and entering into states of deep relaxation, we are able to move out of our 'thinking brain', the cortex, so that we can move into our sensations and feelings to access parts of us that can lead us towards our own knowing of what we need.
Tempo's analytical evidence-based approach is balanced by processes that invite you to delve below conscious thought, and into the bigger picture of your sensations, your body and your feelings.
So, alongside more traditional talk-based ways of learning and understanding ourselves, Tempo offers opportunities for you to explore your supports and needs through:
- Music listening
- Exploring sand and clay
- Guided imagery
These experiences offer creative opportunities to consider yourself in different ways that are outside of your daily conceptualisation of yourself.
There is a focus on the process, that is, the act of engaging with yourself in relation to these experiences, rather than the 'product'. So, it is not about making a great work of art, or finding the perfect strategy (thought these things are also gratifying!).
Focusing on the process means:
- returning to or creating a felt sense of safety within yourself
- connecting with your sensations, feelings and thoughts
- listening to the stories you tell yourself
- feeling your vulnerability and your courage
- sitting in discomfort
- turning towards yourself with gentleness and care
- finding integration
Focusing on the process allows you to be a human being rather than a human doing.
We don’t leave ourselves behind when we go to work, we take our whole selves in. Some days it is easy to keep ourselves separate. But when we are tired, have a special connection to a client or patient, have difficulties of our own, or are touched by the moment, it is not always possible, or appropriate, to maintain a separation. We feel their joy and we feel their pain. And sometimes it touches ours.
The body is our home. But what happens when we become disconnected from this home, unable to feel it, or to notice when it needs a break or nourishment? What happens when we tune out from it, turn away and ignore the vital messages it is sharing with us? See below as we explore the role of being aware of, and connecting with the body and its sensations for embodied health and wellbeing - for yourself and the wellbeing of those in your care.
Polyvagal theory describes how our nervous system works hard to help us to connect with others, to keep us safe, and to protect us against threat. Many are familiar with terms such as fight, flight and freeze. However this is only part of the picture. This article unpacks three organising principles of polyvagal theory that help to make it accessible, understandable and easy to translate into daily life.