When it all gets to be too much, do you ever just go curl up in a corner and rock? Maybe you just wanna go rock in a corner but fight the urge. Hell, somedays I just wanna go rock in a corner & I get paid to help people manage their stress. My secret, however, is that I actually do go rock in a corner. Ok, maybe not in a corner. But I do rock. It’s very soothing. During particularly stressful times, I sometimes find myself rocking through part or all of my daily meditation.
Now I realize that just sitting and rocking has a real stigma attached to it, but I don’t really care. If you do it in public people will stop and stare, sure. They’ll probably even think you’ve got a mental defect or two. That’s why I don’t do it in public. (Quick aside on that note: people don’t generally rock because they have a mental defect. They rock because they’re stressed and/or some need is not being met, and let’s face it, the communication difficulties that the developmentally disabled population deal with will result in both stress and unmet needs.)
Have you noticed that kids and babies rock instinctively? It’s a way of self-soothing… and it really works. But it doesn’t just work on kids and babies. The physiology of what happens to the body when you rock doesn’t change as you age. I won’t bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say that rocking activates the parasympathetic nervous system (this is the “rest and digest” part of the nervous system that calms down our “fight or flight” stress response). Ever wonder why babies fall asleep so much faster when you hold them in a rocking chair? Yep, you got it. It’s just that soothing.
Now, I’m not talking about glider rockers. I’m talkin’ granny rockers all the way! Nice, slow, full on rocking. Let me tell you why gliders just don’t do it for me; they only get the fluid in your ear moving in one direction – front to back. Real rocking chairs move the fluid not only front to back, but also simultaneously moves it up and down. That’s 2 out of the 3 ways that the inner ear fluid moves – the third way it moves is side to side. The more vestibular stimulation, i.e the more ways the fluid moves in the ears, the more the brain synchronizes and modulates it’s activity to a calmer level that’s compatible with ‘resting and digesting’. Ok, so maybe I bored you with more details than I originally intended. I’m a little bit sorry for that. But only a little.
I seriously want the rocking chair to come back into vogue. Not so that I’ll be viewed as cool, but so that I can find a decent one in a store more easily. Grandma really did have the right idea… sitting in her rocking chair and doing an activity that she loved like reading, needlepoint, or knitting. She instinctively knew how to keep her stress level under control.
So remember, if you want to relax… Rock On, Dude!!