The Nervous System Benefits of Rearranging the Furniture + 2 Yoga Tips
By Kristine Kaoverii Weber | May 6, 2020
I grew up with a Feng Shui master. Not really, but my mom definitely was into rearranging the furniture.
When I was growing up, I’d often come home from school and find things in different places. She would rearrange pictures, plants, mirrors, books, pots and pans, the inside of the fridge, mementos, the cat bowl.
I think it was a coping strategy to deal with the challenges of raising 5 kids.
Sometimes she would switch whole rooms around (“The living room is a big waste of space so I’m going to swap it with the family room!”). I knew I needed to be careful walking around the house because, at regular intervals, the map was redrawn.
When the coronavirus restrictions first hit, I reorganized my pantry. Then I reorganized the spice cabinet, then the laundry shelf, then my desk, then the car console. Meanwhile my husband reorganized the garage and his sock drawer.
I realized our behavior was not dissimilar from my mom’s – we were also using reorganization as an external technique to adapt to change.
I don’t think the urge to reorganize is simply about discharging excessive energy or agitation. Rather, it is actually a response to an internal demand for recalibration or adaptation. When there is an internal demand to do things differently, acting out that demand in the external world helps us to prepare for the more challenging internal work.
One thing that is uber obvious is that many, many aspects of life are reorganizing right now – internally as well as externally. Externally we are tasked with learning new social skills – to give each other a bit more space, to remember to wear masks, to be a little more patient in grocery lines, to work from home if possible, to consider not only our own health but also about the health and psychological well-being of others.
We are doing a pretty good job (in general) of learning to adapt.
But, internally, reorganization is a bit more of a challenge.
One thing that strikes me as being essential at the moment is the optimization of health – what can we do (individually and collectively) to be stronger and more resilient? What should we be doing regularly to boost our immunity and cultivate greater psychological flexibility? How can we build inner strength and stamina, heal and strengthen our relationships, and let go of the superfluous?
Which brings me to yoga.
Yoga practice in its holistic expression (ethics, pranayama, asanas, and meditation) is a potent system for optimizing health – for reorganizing what needs to be reorganized, for letting go of the physical as well as emotional detritus, and for developing the strength to rise to the challenges that l before us.
Two Tips to Optimize Practice
- Repetition – Practice is practice, so you have to practice. And while it’s really important to practice regularly, what’s even more optimal is to repeat within the practice – repeat postures, repeat mantras, repeat breathing techniques. The brain, the nervous system, and the mind use repetition to drive powerful, potent changes. Practice teaches us the art of adapting.
- Novelty – “Do the same thing, but do it differently.” When you change up the way you are practicing you introduce new options of doing the practice, which translate to new ways of being. Novelty is essential for creating positive neuroplastic changes, and it provides an opportunity to expand your resilience repertoire. More options for moving and breathing confer more expansive ways of being, which lead to increased resilience or an increased capacity for surfing through life’s changes.
When we stay stuck in (and typically are unaware of) our samskara-s or patterns (whether it’s in our behaviors, our thinking, our relationships, or our asana practice), we limit our capacity to make meaningful, life-affirming change.
When we are willing to step out of old ways of knowing and old ways of being, then we open to the potential for more expansion, for more connection, ultimately for more love.
Love, connection, support, compassion – these are the qualities we are called to cultivate at this moment in history, these are the qualities that will actually bring us through to the other side. Regular practice, with repetition and novelty, offers that when we get to the other side of all this, we will find that we’ve rearranged the furniture in a way that feels comfortable, manageable and life-affirming.