Completing the Stress Cycle - Burnout & Emotional Digestion

In their book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, twin sisters Emily and Amelia Nagoski (sex therapist and singer, respectively) brilliantly cite evidence-based research on stress.

One of the key points they elaborate on is the difference between eliminating a stressor and completing the stress cycle. Completing the stress cycle means letting it run all the way to the end so it’s not getting trapped in your body. 

Shoutout to yogīs who have thousands of years worth of "existing data"! Yogīs already know that “the issues are in the tissues” and sound-based yogīs especially know that
a) singing and chanting effectively helps move stuck energy in all of the bodies, and that
b) sometimes previously undigested “stuff” comes up out of nowhere, sometimes with a clear memory association and sometimes as intense feeling without a particular reference. 
 
Listening to their podcast interview with Brene Brown, my mind was exploding with references to tag with a sound-based practice!

Plus, I found their #smashthepatriarchy lens to be spot on for our times. I highly recommend you have a listen!

The Nagoskis’ six strategies for completing the stress cycle include:

  1. Physical Activity
  2. Breathing
  3. Positive Social Interaction 
  4. Affection
  5. A “big ol’ cry”
  6. Creative Expression

Umm… sound familiar? Doesn’t a full Heart of Sound practice often tick off all of these boxes simultaneously?

  1. Physical Activity - Singing at full voice can be as tiring as running!
  2. Breathing - The exhale is almost always longer than the inhale whenever we sing.
  3. Positive Social Interaction - Smiles abound in our gatherings, whether online or in physical. 
  4. Affection - When we practice online, we don’t get physical hugs, but we often experience the embrace of sound as cradling us, and perhaps even massaging us from the inside to the outside. 
  5. A “big ol’ cry” - When we tune in to listen to what’s alive in us, follow the sensation through the vibration, and savor it… often the result is tears.
  6. Creative Expression - Singing our hearts out, literally. Whether it’s simple vocal toning, chanting a repetitive Sanskrit mantra, a sing-a-long kīrtan, or free singing / improvisation on a rāga, there are multiple ways that a sound-based practice meets the need for creative expression.

For me, this trend of promoting evidence-based strategies continues to reaffirm the wisdom of the great mystical traditions! As if we didn't know it already: sound and mantra WORK.

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