I’m Grateful for My Big Toe This Holiday Season

I'm Grateful for My Big ToeYeah, my big toe.

I know, it sounds strange, but I really am grateful for it! My big toe has interestingly become the representative of a new neural pathway.

This is just getting weirder, isn’t it? Let me explain.

If you’ve read my recent blogs about MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), you’ll know that one of the core MBSR program meditations is the body scan. It’s a long, slow meditation that focuses on bringing awareness to sensations in each and every part of the body… starting at the big toe.

I’ve grown to really enjoy and appreciate this practice – I find it relaxing to come home to my body in this way.

Now that I’ve been practicing this meditation for several weeks, I notice an instant sense of ease show up as soon as I begin. I feel an instant stress reduction.

The ‘SR’ part of MBSR is really true!

So Why Am I Grateful For My Big Toe?

Since this meditation is relaxing for me I’ve made a conscious effort to use it during moments of stress (a shorter version of it). I’ll steal away and run myself through a quick body scan, whether I do it in my mind, or by actually stepping away from a stressful situation.

As soon as I start the inner script I feel an instant change in energy. I can hear it now – “bringing attention to the big toe, noticing any sensation that may be present here, or perhaps no sensation.”

This translates into immediate relaxation for me. Does it make everything better?

Not completely. But what happens is I feel slightly better. I feel a little more capable of managing the situation.

A new neural pathway has been created. Think – Pavlov’s dogs. There’s an association of relaxation with bringing attention to …my big toe.

The irony of this is that the big toe is such an essential body part – we need it for balance, so we don’t fall over. Mine happens to be helping me stay balanced from many perspectives.

Finding Ways to Overcome Holiday Stressors

Life is filled with daily stressors. We can’t control that. What we do have control over is: whether we react to them, or respond.

In this way we have control over how stressors impact our health. So this holiday season, I’m particularly grateful to my big toe for impacting my stress level.

As we embark upon the beginning of this holiday season, stress will undoubtedly enter the picture.

Imagine having a similar relaxing association. Imagine as soon as you bring your attention to your breath, a part of your body, a sight, sound, smell, etc.… you feel an instant energy shift.

I hope you too can find a practice you might enjoy, even if only a little. A 5-minute meditation. Or maybe the Green Mountain “Take 5” practice.

If you do, be aware of the peace it may be bringing you, really notice it and pay attention to it. That sense of peace/ease is the reduction of stress in action.


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