295: Smart Body Smart Mind w/ Irene Lyon


Irene Lyon has been the most frequent guest on this show… for good reason.

Nervous system health is the basis of EVERYTHING.

It doesn’t only impact your health, it impacts every facet of your life including:

  • How you handle setbacks, challenges, and disappointments in your life.
  • If you will go after the things you are really here to cause and contribute.
  • The health of every relationship you will ever have.

Mentioned in this episode:

I’m offering a special bonus to those who sign up with my link https://graceandgrit.com/sbsm – so be sure to listen in or check out the transcript below!

Smart Body Smart Mind w/ Irene Lyon

Transcripts are auto-generated.

Courtney Townley 0:00
Welcome to the Grace and Grit Podcast made for women who want their healthiest years to be ahead of them. Not behind them. Join your host Courtney Townley right now. As she breaks down the fairy tale health story, you have been chasing all of your life, indispensable action steps and lasting change.

Courtney Townley 0:28
Hello, my friends and welcome back to the Grace & Grit Podcast. This is your host, Courtney Townley, if you’ve been in the Grace & Grit space for a while you have heard the name Irene Lyon. Irene Lyon is a nervous system health expert. She is also a good friend of mine. And someone I admire and respect tremendously. In fact, so much so I rely on has been on this show as a guest more than any other guest in the last 295 episodes.

Courtney Townley 0:57
And that should say something. The reason I keep inviting her back is because I am such a big believer in her mission and her message, which is that nervous system health is the basis of everything. It impacts everything. And yes, when I say everything, I mean everything. Not only does your nervous system impact every facet of your biology, of your physical being, but it impacts every facet of your life.

Courtney Townley 1:52
The nervous system plays a significant role in every relationship you will ever have. And so much more.

Courtney Townley 2:02
So, it is worth understanding how it works, and how to promote the health of it. Which is why I keep bringing Irene back and why I also am such a huge advocate of her program, Smart Body Smart Mind, which opens for registration in just a few days. Yes, I am an affiliate for this program. It is the only program I have ever been an affiliate for. Because I believe in it that much. Not only have I gone through it as a student more than once, by the way. But I have watched many of my own students go through the course, and witnessed the impact that the course has had on their own life.

Courtney Townley 2:45
So to again, to say I’m a fan is an understatement. And if you are someone who maybe wants to know more about the nervous system, or you are someone who is just acutely aware that you carry a tremendous amount of stress, and you can’t seem to get out of your own way, it might be worth looking into.

Courtney Townley 3:11
This interview today we are going to talk about my experience of going through the program, what the nervous system is the value the nervous system has to offer you when it’s operating from a healthy space.

Courtney Townley 3:24
I want to tell you that if you are someone who is ready to take the leap into this work, you are ready to do a deep dive into nervous system health. And you decide to sign up for this course, I am offering anyone who signs up through my link, it has to be through my link, six months of membership inside of my Rumble & Rise community for free. So not only do you get Irene’s 12 week program, you’re also getting six months of membership inside of my own community. And why? Because these two things complement each other so beautifully.

Courtney Townley 4:04
Irene helps to set the foundation of nervous system health. And I help women to do the things that help them to maintain the work that they do inside this course. So it’s a win win. I mean, you’re getting a ton of value for the cost of this program.

Courtney Townley 4:27
So, if you are interested in registering, remember, it has to be through my link to get that added bonus. And you can find the link by going to graceandgrit.com/sbsm, once again, that’s graceandgrit.com/sbsm, which stands for Smart Body Smart Mind.

Courtney Townley 4:48
And also if you’re on my email list, you’ll find me posting things on the email. And certainly I will be posting it on social media as well. But without further ado, let’s get into this interview. It’s a great interview. I feel like every interview Irene and I do gets a little bit better. And we have covered a lot of ground to this point. So I’m excited to share it with you.

Courtney Townley 5:12
So I Irene, welcome back to the Grace & Grit Podcast.

Irene Lyon 5:15
Hi there, Courtney. I’m, I’m so happy to see you.

Courtney Townley 5:19
As always. I’m so happy you’re here. And this is what like, I mean, I don’t even I’ve lost count. How many times you’ve been here?

Irene Lyon 5:24
100? No.

Courtney Townley 5:25

Irene Lyon 5:27
Maybe six?

Courtney Townley 5:29
Yeah, at least I think

Irene Lyon 5:33
Five, do summits count?

Courtney Townley 5:35
I’m gonna count them. Every time you’re around my town, it

Irene Lyon 5:39
Probably seven I don’t know.

Courtney Townley 5:41
And we haven’t quite solved all the world’s problems. But you know, most we’re on our way. And it all starts with the nervous system health, which we’re talking about today.

Irene Lyon 5:50
I agree. I agree.

Courtney Townley 5:52
So you’ve been here many times, our conversations have evolved. Certainly, my understanding of the nervous system has evolved from when I first found you. Yeah. And the best way I can think to explain that is I went from a space of well, I would say very first it was a space of resistance.

Irene Lyon 6:13

Courtney Townley 6:14
Because there’s that quote, right, that the truth will set you free. But first, it’ll piss you off.

Irene Lyon 6:20
Is that a real quote or did you make that up? Did you make that up?

Courtney Townley 6:22
No, I there really is, eventually set you free. But first, it’ll tick you off. And I feel that way kind of with the nervous system, because it was all the things that I didn’t want to hear, right that it was slowing down. It was going in, it was taking responsibility. It was reshaping, ultimately, probably my identity. You know, I initially saw it as just reshaping parts of my life. But I think it’s literally an exercise in in reshaping who you have practiced being in the world. So there was just a lot of work that I was not super pumped about leaning into, which I think is probably the experience of a lot of people you work with, I would imagine.

Irene Lyon 6:22
Oh, yeah.

Irene Lyon 6:26
And then I got interested, right? Because I had started to tap into understanding the nervous system. enough that I knew there was something there. So I went into interested and now I feel like I’m in a space of it just being so foundational and so imperative, and honestly urgent, I feel like this is an urgent conversation.

Courtney Townley 7:25
Because of just the state of the world, the state of people, the state of their mental health, your physical health. Yeah. And honestly, I bought a new car in December, and it’s a blue car, and I’ve never had a blue car. And I thought, well, I don’t see a lot of blue cars. But I bought the car. And now you know, I see blue cars.

Courtney Townley 8:07
And it just more I just really feel that this is such an important conversation, which is why I continue to bring you back. Now, you know, as for a Podcast, I have lots of repeat listeners. But I also have a lot of new listeners who may not have any experience of you and your work. So I think we should start maybe just laying the foundation for them with who you are, and what you do in the world. Let’s start there. And then we’ll I’m going to ask you some questions about.

Irene Lyon 8:34
Yeah, let’s see if I get it right today. It’s there’s so many ways to start right. Yeah, so by trade, I went into the world similar to you in exercise science and fitness, applied human nutrition, sports nutrition, I in my 20s, I was working in a highly athletic world, ski resort, that kind of thing. Whistler for those that know it. And I got plagued with tons of injuries, which I’m still working with to this day, as you know.

Irene Lyon 11:11
And then just started seeing people whom weren’t getting better, even with the more sophisticated Mind Body environment work of the Feldenkrais Method. And it was very clear to me that, oh, I have another piece to this puzzle that I don’t know. And in many ways, Courtney, that’s a that’s a teaching point is to really be humble. And be okay, if you don’t know the next thing, right? Because people get into trouble I have found in my practices, when they can’t open up their mind to the possibility that they don’t know everything.

Courtney Townley 11:49

Irene Lyon 11:50
Or that their, their therapist or their, or their whomever knows everything, and it’s impossible to know everything, I’m still, you know, I’m still learning. And, and so I got into this work called somatic experiencing, because I realized that a lot of these clients that weren’t getting better with the stuff that helps me had a lot of bad things that happened to them.

Irene Lyon 12:14
Whether it was injuries, abuse accidents, and I didn’t have the skill to work at that fine tune level. And whenever I say that, in my mind, I always think of remember that game operation.

Courtney Townley 12:27
Oh, yes.

Irene Lyon 12:28
Like, like, like, it’d be great. It’d be interesting to play it now. Because we did it when we were young, when maybe our motor skills weren’t so great.

Courtney Townley 12:36
It was so it felt so hard.

Irene Lyon 12:37
Oh, you know, and I’m like, oh, yeah, it wasn’t that hard. But it’s like the fine tuned elements element of how to work with the system. And I don’t mean that that operation level. However, in the work that I do now, with my students who are mainly online, sometimes group, we are working at that organ level, we’re working at that deep internal level of the body of the nervous system, but also the patterns that we’ve held as a result of our unique human experience. And so what I do is not, you know, I’m just a doctor, or I’m just this, I am working, essentially, at helping people learn how to become their own medicine. It’s like my favorite thing to say, become neuromedicine. With this whole body organism that we have,

Courtney Townley 13:46
In less than five seconds, how do you get across?

Irene Lyon 13:48
Yeah, because as you said, when you were introducing this talk, there is so much dysregulation around us that we actually don’t know we’re in it. And so unless we’ve awakened, if you want to use that word to the fact that we have some issues at this nervous system level, individually, globally, a person won’t see why this is important. And so it’s kind of interesting, because the reason why and you know, this was your work, trying to get people to do preventive work. Yeah, can be really tough because there’s nothing wrong. There’s nothing wrong. And a lot of-

Courtney Townley 14:27
Or it could just be solved superficially with like I’m putting in my mouth.

Irene Lyon 14:31
Exactly. And so with this, what I find is typically people don’t seek this until they are so far gone. Yeah. And they’ve like I just had a video from one of your peers and Smart Body Smart Mind. She had seen 70 practitioners post traumatic brain injury after a car accident. None of it helped. I mean, it helped but she was still not well.

Courtney Townley 15:00

Irene Lyon 15:00
And then she found the work that you’ve done. And within six months, she was able to get out of her wheelchair. It’s like, and I’m not a miracle worker, like, I’m not giving her a potion, right? She’s doing the work. So but it’s almost like there needs to be enough of a, I’m really struggling, but my hope, like having come from fitness and nutrition, where you’re trying to get people to do some maintenance and prevention. It’s like, wow, if we could really teach this stuff early to young mothers doesn’t have to be the young mothers and young folk. But because anybody can do this work, as you know, I think one of our oldest is in their 80s and the class in the course.

Irene Lyon 15:43
But it’s like, the sooner we can do this, the easier the process will be of living and working on all the conditioning, and all of the weird ways that we’ve learned to navigate this very modern, industrialized tech world.

Courtney Townley 15:59
Well, and the less years you’re practicing, dysregulation, right? Because I mean, I see this all the time, in my own work, the more someone has practiced a certain behavior, the trickier it is to unwind. It doesn’t mean it can’t be unwound. It’s just hard. And I also want to back up to something you said, because I think it’s so important. I think this was part of my resistance to nervous system work to begin with, is that it is so complex, in that there are so many layers, there are so many things that influence the nervous system, there are so many things that the nervous system influences. And it isn’t a simple sort of one part conversation. It’s an ecosystem.

Irene Lyon 16:45

Courtney Townley 16:47
And ecosystems just again, they’re they’re complex, and every piece of the ecosystem affects all other parts. Yeah. And so I do think it’s kind of a, you know, if you look at it, right, from like, the bird’s eye perspective, it’s, it can be daunting, but the practice of entering which You’re so brilliant at helping people do, if you enter it through the right point, yeah, it can be. And again, titrating is something that you talk a lot about, you know, we we practice the right amount, the right skill sets, yeah, for where I’m where I’m at, in my life.

Courtney Townley 17:24
And that’s kind of a gateway to learning how to become my own medicine, right, like really honoring what I can handle at this point in my life, which I will say, I think, for a lot of people is less than they would like to be able to handle a lot less.

Irene Lyon 17:41
Yeah, you know, I, I am thinking of two stories right now. So I want to address the ecosystem on a second because that is so important. I’ve been using that as an analogy recently. But it’s true, as I talked to more of your peers, whom have been, you know, masters at MIT? Well, they say, masters at meditation, breath, work, all these things. And then they’re like, I could only do five minutes of that first thing. And I was like, stop, stop. I’m feeling too much, right? And it’s not because I’m asking someone to, like stand on their head or anything like that. And we’re literally just asking if we think of the basic practice of connecting to the environment. Like it’s quite simple. Animals do it every day, all the time.

Irene Lyon 18:29
Children looking around babies, you know, they just, you know, you’ve had a baby, like, they’re just like, oh, what’s going on out here? And then you ask an adult who’s super trained in these practices of meditation and mindfulness. And they have a freakout? Because they’ve actually, and this isn’t a hit against those practices, those practices just don’t know yet. It’s like, wow, I have been doing these, these diligent practices that I thought were bringing me to a higher level of healing.

Irene Lyon 18:59
But really, they’ve been masking what has been internal and inside really cleverly, and you’re right, these these things are sometimes slower than we want them to be. And the people who do well really acknowledge that and they have humility in it, and they go, Okay, I think I’m going to really listen to what the teachers are saying, and pause and step away from the computer and have a walk or make a cup of tea or watch a funny movie. Whereas a lot of our conditioning Courtney and this is something I’ve been talking about a lot this year, is school system.

Courtney Townley 19:39
I know.

Irene Lyon 19:59
You failed, you’re not good at this move on to the next subject. And it’s just it’s poisoned. The ability for us to learn in a curiosity driven way, which is again, what the baby, the toddler is so good at. But man, how early? Do we mess that up? And so when you start to get an adult to understand the layers of conditioning that have been happening since even inception, yeah, and how mama might have been restricting what baby needed, because of all the rules, she was given by all the books in the pediatrician, you kind of go, you have to be really, like almost humorous with it, because you can have an existential crisis. Yeah, if you’re not careful.

Courtney Townley 20:43
Yeah. It’s interesting, because I feel like I have built this community that’s all about I mean, the whole objective behind it is self-leadership. Right is really helping women to make strong decisions about their life and feel comfortable in their own bodies. And it’s so interesting when people come into what we call the arena. They want like the curriculum, they want to know, like, when am I supposed to have the assignment done? Where am I supposed to be along the trajectory? Like, you know, this woman is a little further ahead than me. So I’m gonna make that mean something like I’m behind. I was like, Oh, my gosh, you have to leave all of that at the door. Yeah. Because your journey is your journey. And so you can make it hard those things and put all of that excess pressure. And I bring this up, too, because I’ve been through Smart Body Smart Mind, which is your course.

Courtney Townley 21:56
But it’s, it’s I feel like it’s just it’s beautiful, because there’s structure to the space. But there’s also freedom to make it your own experience, which you actually talk about a lot in the course.

Irene Lyon 22:09
Yeah. And it’s reminding me of my my grade 11/12 high school was like 2000 people was huge. Yeah. And the motto, then was freedom with responsibility.

Irene Lyon 22:25
And what was interesting about this high school is that there were no bells, there were blocks A to F. Okay, that started at 8am. And the last block was at four, okay, and you might have a block at 8am and one o’clock. Or you might not start till two or one semester, you’ll have a full day and the next semester, you might have two classes.

Irene Lyon 22:50
And that worked well, for some, yeah, didn’t work so well, for a lot of people, because they just didn’t have that discipline. They didn’t know how to check the time, it was really interesting. But it was still structured class was happening, he still didn’t show up that it ended up. And so with SBSM, and really my other programs that like the 21 Day Nervous System Tune Up, we have to structure it, or else it’s not contained, of course, and you know, there has been some asking like Irene, why don’t you have this be just an ongoing yearly membership. I’m like, people won’t do the work.

Irene Lyon 23:29
I don’t want to be on 12 months, a year constantly, you know, I don’t want my team to have like, they’ll never get a holiday. So it’s kind of like we structure it as a semester. I think I like the university terms, right? It’s like a semester. And but it’s self learning. And you get to where you get. And if you are tormented by that, then that’s the piece that you have to work on. Yeah. Right.

Irene Lyon 23:57
Because we’ve had people that have pushed and been a good student, and they’ve actually, I’d say, blow up their system is a bit too harsh, but they’ve not grown the regulation that they could have. If they had just stuck with like, maybe the first two modules for like three months. Yeah. Which is so okay. I mean, we’re going into the 12th round of this. And there is I am still connected with people who did the course before it was any of what it is now. Yeah, you know, and it’s like, and there’s still it’s not that they’re doing it to the same degree. But they’re there they’re that it’s like a martial art. Yeah. Talk to anyone who’s a black belt. They’re more humble than the white belt. It’s like I’m always learning there’s always something to figure out. Yes, I’m a master. But there’s always a little tweaks that I can make to improve and grow that capacity.

Courtney Townley 24:44
Yeah. I love it. I actually appreciate that it’s set up the way it is because like you said there’s like this 12 weeks of more support right it should you need it, the calls and all the things and there is like you said that container. But then there’s this period of practice, and then you get to keep coming back to it. Because once you’re in the chorus, you’re forever in the chorus. And this is the first year you’re launching it twice in a year.

Irene Lyon 25:07
It’s the first time we’ve launched it twice in about three years in three years back in the day or twice. Yeah, but yeah, now I have we have the team in that capacity. And so we’re gonna see, and honestly, there were a lot of folks that didn’t get into the registration in last March, or February that were a little bummed. And I’m like, we got enough of that, that I was like, Okay, I think we can do this again this year and see what happens.

Courtney Townley 25:36
Love it.

Irene Lyon 25:36
There was also a little turmoil going on in the the world in February last year, this year, sorry, this year. Yeah. So it’s like there was a bit of a chaotic edge. And I kind of feel like there’s a little more of a settling. Yeah. And I think globally, while it’s individual work, we do feel what’s going on in the external.

Irene Lyon 26:01
But as you said, at the very beginning, like having this on board, it helps you be in a world of chaos, and it makes it such that you do not connect and mesh with it. Yeah. And I think what has occurred for so many, not just the last two years, but like, for their lifetime, is they’re in this this spin cycle with things that they can’t control. Yeah.

Irene Lyon 26:31
And at the end of the day, as simple as this sounds, as a human that is solo, the only thing you can control is yourself. If you have little people, like dependents who are not teenagers yet, you can still work with, you know, not that you can’t work with a teenager, but like, those are your responsibilities. Right? Nothing else. Yeah. And so it’s like, being able to just work on yourself and see, I mean, you probably have some stories, Courtney, the the ripples when you have more regulation your system and you see the way that others whether it’s your kid, your dog, your spouse, like I’ve had two stories in the last couple of weeks, where we’re your student, or your peers are like, I don’t fight with my husband anymore. Yeah.

Irene Lyon 27:23
Or I don’t fight with my ex anymore. CO parents, right? And they’re like, it’s insane. And it’s amazing, because now that stress isn’t going on to the kids. And we know that when parents are fighting the kids, they shut down. Absolutely keep it together, or they think that they’re the the reason for that. And it’s never the case.

Courtney Townley 28:42
And ultimately, just this space, which I see so many of my clients doing, where we normalize stress. Yeah. Right. Like we’re so in it. We’re just now you’re so living in the ecosystem of stress that we can’t even see. Yeah, how dysfunctional it is. Yeah. And I think that I think I know that starting to do your work, and just being a part of your world and learning as a student really helped me to, you know, the best word I can use is soften. Mm hmm. Right.

Courtney Townley 29:14
Like, I just feel like it helped to round out my edges. Yeah. And, and it really just felt, do you know, Nayyirah Waheed. She’s a poet. Oh, my gosh, she’s writes beautiful things. She has a poem that says, You don’t have to be a fire for every mountain that’s blocking you. You can be a water and soft river your way to freedom.

Irene Lyon 29:35
That’s gorgeous.

Courtney Townley 29:36
Yeah. And I just that it always makes me think of my work with nervous system regulation. Because I feel like that’s what it’s allowed me to do. It’s allowed me to soft river my life. Yeah. And certainly I can relate to that, like with I think I was always looking for a fight in a way, you know.

Irene Lyon 29:56
Well, you’re a strong lady. So you know, it makes sense now but what you said is actually that’s a, I might have to get that poet reference to what you just said is quite universal in the elements like, because we need to have anger when we need it. Yeah. But then when our babies are hurt, and need us, we need to soften. Yeah.

Irene Lyon 30:23
At whereas when we just have one motto, like, you’re fine, it’s like, you’re fine. Like, no, they’re not fine. And I mean, that’s one of the biggest micro traumas that I think so many of us dealt with is we’re feeling this, you know, there’s upset, and the big person there has no capacity to shift and change and attune to that. And then what does that do? It makes us a certain way only. And then, you know, all this talk of oh, it’s genetic. It’s it’s like, huh, to a degree, yes, I have brown hair, you have blonde, that’s not changing, right?

Irene Lyon 31:03
But these these pieces of us that are so immutable, like, oh my goodness, it has to do with that. So the elements, we need the fire, we need the solid earth, we need the flow of the emotions, the water, and then like that ether, you know, the energy, the spirit, which a lot of students say they get that spiritual connection more not in a god sense, necessarily, or it might be but with the planet, and then the wind, like that’s another element. Not that I teach that in the class. But for those that see, maybe from that Chinese medicine, elemental point of view, when you get regulation back on board, we really we see we are nature, like we have all those elements, not just physically, but in how our emotions are meant to be.

Courtney Townley 32:46
So I do think that options is what it’s afforded me is just knowing that I could use this energy, which is the same energy. Yeah, right, I could use this energy to really screw up my life and make some choices that are not going to be so easy to bounce back from. Or I could use this energy to find my way back to where I really want to be living, and really try to remedy whatever it is in front of me that’s so upsetting to me. And so and just knowing that I have options, you can’t close that box, once you open it,

Irene Lyon 33:24
No and what you’re speaking to, right there is the classic shift from living in and we could say survival to living in more human based, like living in that we need those survival mechanisms, right.

Irene Lyon 33:43
You know, your son or someone is in trouble, you’re gonna go into go mode. And it’s not the time to feel you know, that you’re hungry.

Irene Lyon 33:55
I need to have a snack first.

Irene Lyon 33:57
Or that you’re a bit sad about some sad news that you just heard, like, your your your survival mechanisms will go and we need that we need that. But then the option peace means that you’re now living from a state of higher brain. Yeah. But still able to feel the survival in the moment. It’s mammalian, it’s animal physiology that is in us.

Irene Lyon 34:21
And this is like the dicey tricky thing that that humans I think, have been trying to figure out, at least since we started trying to heal our brains and minds. Who knows when that really started, you know, effectively, but if we can’t connect the two, right, I think what’s occurred over the you know, I’m, I’m at an age where I kind of know what happened in the 60s with the whole movements and all that but that was like, explosion of love and free and all this but it was a bit but it was uncontained.

Irene Lyon 35:00
So nutrition in the 80s, and then you know, aerobics and then the 90s. And then it was mind body and more coursed. And then And then Oh no, the mind body is enough. Now we have to do plant medicines, that’s not enough. Now we need to do this. And it’s we’re looking for that that piece or that freedom. But the thing is, is, those practices are all wonderful.

Irene Lyon 35:19
But again, if that nervous system is not in our awareness, and this is in a way, not that I’ve ever had a debate on this, but if I were to have a debate with someone about well just put a human in the natural world, just just put them in the woods, with the with the earth with animals tent, you know, and people are getting like, there’s people wanting to live that way again, which is really cool to see, however, because of the higher brain, you could be in that garden, and in nature and be miserable.

Courtney Townley 36:12
I don’t know why. It totally makes sense. Yes. And it also makes me think about how much stock we seem to put in thinking about the body versus being in the body. Which I again, I think your work is so great at bringing us back to, right. It’s very much a practice of being comfortable in your skin in your body, with whatever the emotional landscape is.

Courtney Townley 36:44
And this before, but I really want to like have you elaborate on it. You mentioned the building capacity and expanding capacity. And I again, because it’s an ecosystem, yes, that capacity is being built on so many levels. Can you just speak to that a little bit? Because I think it’s such an important concept.

Irene Lyon 37:04
That’s such a hard one. Courtney.

Irene Lyon 37:09
I will, no. So, I’m going to bring in that that that ecosystem thing you mentioned at the top of our talk. So I don’t know the exact story of this, and I should probably look it up. But I heard through something online that I think it was Yellowstone, so not too far away from you.

Courtney Townley 37:29
Yeah, no, it’s just down the street.

Irene Lyon 37:30
Yeah. So jealous. They brought in was it wolves to an area that had been totally barren and not ecosystem healthy? Um, yeah, I’m not a biologist. So I don’t know these words. And over time with the introduction of that predator, I think is what happened. It shifted the balance. Yeah. And the rivers got more proper and the vegetation. It’s like a regenerative farm. Yeah.

Irene Lyon 38:47
And then once that soil has life and capacity, you can plant the seeds. And of course, you still have to attend it and water and sun, and then things grow. And then the next year, it’s easier because you’ve done that initial work again. So when it comes to the human system. Again, I’m generalizing here, but for most people who haven’t actively done this level of work, yeah, their capacity is quite small.

Irene Lyon 39:22
You might have that garden and have all the fancy equipment around it. But if that soil isn’t prepped and ready, it’s not going to make any difference that you have all the equipment to garden and to farm right. So building capacity in the human system means really reconnecting to parts of the body that honestly nobody has ever taught us to do as adults.

Irene Lyon 39:58
So in other words, when you had a fuss, were you attended to by mom or caregiver so that you could feel that fuss and feel her or his simultaneously chillness. That’s co regulation. And then that brings you down. That is building capacity that’s building regulation, self regulation. And so part of building capacity as an adult, because we can’t go back to age one, or day one. As adults, we have to actually do that with ourselves. We have to, it seems so basic, but we have to just feel our feet on the floor.

Irene Lyon 41:08
And one of the best examples I can give around building capacity around, let’s say, sensation in the body, because part of this work is building the capacity to feel sensation is not, let’s figure out your biggest trauma. Right, because as you know, we never asked anyone in any of the courses, what screwed you up the most. Yeah, we never do it. People can offer that when they share their stories. And that’s great.

Irene Lyon 41:37
But like my favorite example, you stub your toe in the coffee table, right? And it hurts, it stings. It’s like, oh, in that moment, that is an entry point two practice. You don’t need to sit on a fuzzy cushion or do anything crazy. You just stubbed your toe or you just burned your finger on the toaster, that is your cue to pause, feel your feet. Here I am, it stings and to sense the qualities through the body because there is a survival response.

Irene Lyon 42:08
There will be an autonomic nervous system response to that, in that, that hit that imprint, the an opening of the skin as you know, the immune system kicks in. So there’s so many opportunities to build capacity to be with the sensations. And a person can do that. Like as soon as you guys listening this, I’ve heard this and next time, I hope you don’t, but you will, you know, it’s common, you’ll bump your elbow, they’ll slam your finger in a window and I got my finger trapped in my panty bag yesterday, I was like, Ah, what’s going on. And it’s a moment to just feel it doesn’t mean you have to drop everything necessarily, like if you’re attending to your children, don’t just drop them and feel your body, like within reason.

Irene Lyon 42:54
But that that pausing even if you’re pausing through movement and feeling is bringing you back to maybe what never happened when you were little. And those moments when you were little when you weren’t allowed to feel these things over time. That is what dysregulates us. Yeah, that is what moves us away from sensing our true nature. And as odd as it is, it’s like well, gosh, Irene what I’m just gonna, like, feel my toe when I stub it, and that’s gonna heal all my trauma, kind of, you know, in a very microcosm way it’ll build build these layers.

Courtney Townley 43:37
And I’m assuming this is very intentional, right, that we start with sensations, just a feeling feet, and that orienting and all of these things, because it’s a gateway to getting to other things that we have more discomfort around, like emotion. Yeah.

Irene Lyon 43:56
So yeah, we do that. As I like to say it’s the ABCs and one, two threes of nervous system health basics, right, like we got it before you speak the language, you need to understand the letters, for instance. So yeah, the sensation of the stubbing the toe orienting is connecting to the environment, because some stubbed their toe, they don’t feel anything. And that’s true. And it’s not because there isn’t a response. They’re numb to it. Yeah.

Courtney Townley 44:24
So and there’s 1000s of women out there who never know, like, they have to pee all day, and they never go, or they always they always say I’m never hungry. Or right, there’s this. It’s not that their body isn’t sending them signals.

Irene Lyon 44:37
They’re just they’re cut off. Yeah, they’re were cut off. And so yes, so what occurs is, let’s just say those are the basics, the easy, you know, rope skills of this mountain climb, so to speak. And then what what that does is it’s opening up the capacity to feel so that when we start working with deeper theory, because the theory is actually really important to, in some ways, activate the memories. And when I say memories, I don’t just mean thought memories, but body memories, somatic memories, the procedural memories that are trapped from the movements that we might not have been able to do when we had an attack or an injury or a surgical procedure that we didn’t want to be in.

Irene Lyon 45:29
So with that capacity, we can the body and again, I wish I had a way to study this, but we just don’t have the tech to do this. But something in the system goes, Oh, my goodness, Courtney has a bit more capacity. Yeah, holy, we’ve been waiting for this for a long time, we’re gonna we’re gonna give her a shoulder pain from the time she never tended to that shoulder injury when she was 25. Yeah.

Irene Lyon 45:58
And then you wake up the next day with this, like pain, and you’re like, I didn’t do anything what’s happening. But because you’re now learning about the theory, you can sit down, lay down, do one of the lessons touch, working with whatever it is that we work with, there’s so many things that we teach. Yeah. And tune in and start to feel the fascial tension. And maybe as you feel that fascial tension, you feel your breath, get a little and because you know, don’t breathe through it, stay with the tightness, but also feel the ground. I’m here it’s August, blah, blah, blah, I’m safe. I’m good. But oh my god, I think my shoulder is going to explode. Oh, my God, it did I dislocated it. I completely forgot I fell off my bike on that mountain biking trip, whatever. And then Oddly, there can be shaking. There can be heat, tears. No one was there, I had to push my bike, you know, 10 kilometers back to my car. And you had to do it. Because you had to get back to your car. And so you didn’t have time to process that stuff.

Irene Lyon 47:10
So that’s like a little arc of how I think I’m not sure is right now thinking about it. Like that’s like an arc of how building capacity with those simple things, gives the system some kind of cue that says it’s we’re ready. We’re ready to pop this through. But then, because you’ve done the education, you know that you’re not, it’s not just a muscle that needs to get massaged out. Like there’s something bubbling.

Courtney Townley 47:38
I love this perspective, because I think it’s, you know, it’s almost an invitation to pain, which sounds terrible. But I work with, you know, a lot of women who I think partly it’s the population I work with, because I work with midlife, I work with mainly women over 4045 years old. And I think it’s a really interesting time in life, because we’re dealing with the most stressors, probably the most nervous system dysfunction we’ve ever had. Yeah.

Courtney Townley 48:07
And of course, our hormones are shifting, so we’re losing capacity on that level as well. So of course, we’re more prone to injury. And we’re more prone to maybe having some of this stuff boiled up that we haven’t processed before. And when I’m coaching a woman on you know, who is in pain, you know, it sounds so terrible to say, Well, let’s look at the bright side of pain. But what I mean by that is what is the invitation here? Yeah, right. It’s to be with it. And the one beautiful thing about pain is that it forces us to be in the present.

Irene Lyon 48:39
It sure does.

Courtney Townley 48:42
Like you are here now whether you like it or not, yeah, yep. But yeah, I hadn’t heard that explanation before that. I love that.

Irene Lyon 48:49
Yeah. And I mean, we could take what I just did with that example of the mountain bike accident and wait, it’s like a proxy for all sorts of other things. Like it doesn’t have to be a shock trauma, like dislocating your shoulder. Yeah, it could be all those times, you know, the your fifth grade teacher screamed at you in front of the class, because you didn’t realize that you needed glasses, and you couldn’t see the blackboard. It could be all the times that you felt unsafe driving in the car, because your parent was drunk. I heard that one before. You know, and like the terror and just the bracing of waiting for something bad to happen.

Irene Lyon 49:55
There’s like an- They’re like yeah, I was really that wasn’t good. They know but- It’s the it’s the it’s the perfect household. It’s, it’s the, you know, everyone’s fine.

Irene Lyon 50:07
Everyone’s fine. Even though mom just got a cancer diagnosis and she’s fine. You know, it’s like, No, she’s not fine. And why did that happen? What was she we know now that a lot of that is due to suppression, oddly of anger, you know.

Irene Lyon 50:24
And so when we start to see how it’s quite sad, really, you know how up until now, man, many of our parents, and even many in our generations and our grandparents before, they never ever felt what regulation and being connected to their body was.

Irene Lyon 50:54
But we have to go, okay. That was that was their path if you believe in soul, and that was, you know, and maybe they’ll come back and do it again. And now here we are in the year 2022. We know darn well, what to do to heal the I know. Yeah, I now like I used to be a bit shy Courtney about saying it’s like, no, I’ve heard too many stories. Talk to too many of your peers, yourself included. Like, this is really the part where we have to pick up and put together the pieces so that we don’t keep repeating these cycles.

Courtney Townley 51:31
Well, I’m you know, it makes it would totally came to mind as you were talking through all that it’s just our legacy. This is our legacy. Yeah. Right. Like people are always like, their wealth building and all they like, what are you leaving behind to be remembered by? And it’s like, no, what responsibility are you taking for the energy you leave behind? Yeah. Yeah. Right. Like, that’s what this work is? Yeah.

Courtney Townley 51:52
And whether you have children or not, right? Like we’re such communal creatures, and we’re all being affected by the energy around us all the time. Oh, yeah. And it is, I’m such an optimistic person, it drives my husband, because he’s, like, totally the opposite. Probably why we’re together. But I do feel maybe it’s, you know, post COVID. And just this the state of the world the last couple of years, but it does. I’ve had more anxiety about it than I have probably ever had, because I see so much dysregulation around me.

Irene Lyon 52:26
100%. And, you know, to do like a macro sweep of the world. Nobody will no one will hurt another person or do something bad or heinous if they’re connected to their body. Yeah. And that’s the part that because people talk about empathy. And empathy is yes, it’s empathy. But it’s also this, like you need to be empathy comes from the body, because it means you’re feeling what another person might feel or is feeling. And we think about the things that just keep happening that just like, oh, we have to change this law. It’s like, Ah, yes.

Irene Lyon 53:09
We need to also work with the human individual, because this wouldn’t have happened if that person was healthy. And it doesn’t mean they’re perfect. It was not, it means that when they’re feeling something intense, they go and get help. Yeah. But we’ve we’ve demonized getting help. You know, I just had a one of my best friends is ex or a retired military pilot. And I got a text for him last Friday, on another red eye to another Memorial. Because one of his buddies, as he called it took the easy way out, he ended his life. I have heard my friend talk about these, like, I’ve heard so many of these stories.

Irene Lyon 53:53
And I’m like, well, he, you know, my friend was angry. You know, I don’t know if he left behind kids or a wife. But at the end of the day, it’s like, well, he really didn’t. He didn’t have the capacity. Yeah, to know how to be with or ask for help. And I just think about it. I’m like, Man, we’ve been through so many world wars, the PTSD thing came out after Vietnam. Like, why haven’t we helped in this respect? He’s these individuals. It’s like, we know exactly what they need. But they’re still getting talk therapy. They’re still doing exposure therapy. And it’s like, wow, and it just, it made me really sad last weekend, because he you know, he knows my work. And it’s like, why can’t we make these connections?

Courtney Townley 54:39
I know, but think of what it is. It’s like, you’re literally giving people the tools to become their own medicine. Not lucrative. Irene, right. There’s a lot of money to be lost.

Irene Lyon 54:50
I mean, I could put it in a pill and just transmit that through your brain. I know. I know.

Courtney Townley 54:56
Then we’d be all over it. But heaven forbid we give people responsability. And also, you know, the other unsexy part of this. Is that, yeah, it takes time. And yes, it’s a practice. And yes, that requires discipline. Yeah. Right. Like, it’s all of these things, which I think are all just really a lost art in our world today. So it’s like we’re reteaching you know, well, first probably teaching for the first time. So yeah, but also reteaching some things that I think that we have just lost. Focus on, because we are so distracted, and we are so busy, and we’re so freakin tired.

Irene Lyon 55:35
Yeah, and I’m gonna give everyone the benefit of the doubt, because what you said there was actually quite brilliant in that. I actually don’t think this is a lost art.

Irene Lyon 55:45
Because when people were healthy and living off of the land, like and I don’t mean, like, in the 1500s, I mean, like, 10 1000s of years ago, right, like, with woolly mammoths, and all those sorts of things. We didn’t have this stuff. Like, we we really were natural. We also probably died a lot younger due to all sorts of things.

Irene Lyon 56:12
Having all these monitor metody we might have frozen to death because the temperature drops too low. Right. But I think it’s so interesting is because I don’t I think what we’re trying to do right now has never happened before. Yeah. And I like technology. Yeah, I like watching me some Avengers at night to like, you know, have a little fun. Like, I don’t want that to go away. No. But then we have to go. Okay. And we have to balance that out. Yeah. And it’s regulation. I mean, it’s all regulation. Yeah. So it’s, I think I get excited. I also have my moments where maybe like your husband, I get a little I see something I’m like, come on, you know, especially dog poop. It’s like really, like I live near a park and I like to walk bare feet and I have to like do a scan. Right, but then I in case I’m human to I get pissed off at things right.

Courtney Townley 57:09
So because you obviously value parks as that doesn’t have dog poop everywhere.

Irene Lyon 57:14
But here’s the thing, Courtney is as silly as that example is what compels someone to not be responsible for their pet? Yeah, knowing that that could actually make someone sick. A kid walking around, you know, hands in there. So it’s like those little things show us that we still have a long way to go. But also and I met a tweeted this the other day, it’s like we actually have gone quite far. If I think about the amount of people now who understand and can speak eloquently. Ventral vagal, low tone dorsal all the things that you’ve learned. When I hear your peers talk about I’m like, Oh, my God, gay. Like, they’re they’re talking about their nervous system in ways that a lot of psychotherapists have no clue. Yeah, it’s so cool. So cool. And they’re not doing it like with this. Look at what I know. They’re, they’re like, I think I’m going into a little dorsal shutdown right now. Okay. But because they know what it means. It takes it takes the sting out of it. Yeah. It’s just what their body is doing.

Courtney Townley 58:19
Yeah. And it’s like the butterfly effect, right? Yes. Small pod that starts to change, how they’re moving through the world, which then filters into every interaction they have in the day. Yeah. And yeah, and, and I do think we’re always on some level co regulating, I mean, I still I see it if my husband comes home in a bad mood, which is hardly ever. But if he comes home with a bad mood, or my husband, my son’s really upset about something I take, you know, I want to take that off, right? I feel at my own body. And conversely, if I’m having a bad day, I can just sit next to my dog who’s like, always blissed out. And it’s, like, really depressing. So yeah. All right. Let’s tell people how they can actually dive into this work. Like what is coming up and tell them a little bit about that.

Irene Lyon 59:03
So, as we’ve talked about, we’re running Smart Body Smart Mind, again this year. I don’t know when you’re, this one’s gonna go live our talk. But the 13th of September, is when we open up registration.

Irene Lyon 59:42
We are doing something a little different this year. We’re doing a kind of a pre-education, we’re calling it the essentials. And from if I can get the dates right, the ninth of September, through to the 13th. I’ll be teaching every day on Zoom, the basics, the I’m calling it the essentials, what the nervous system is, what the different branches are, what capacity built, I’m going to do the swimming pool analogy, which is like the best.

Irene Lyon 1:00:15
Gonna talk about sabotage is one of the topics and how that connects to the nervous system, because it does. And then what my kind of bread and butter is the sequencing the stages of neuro plastic healing, which is really kind of like the crux the holy grail that I believe, sets apart what I’ve put together compared to a lot of other, we could call them brain retraining programs, because there might be people that are like, Well, how is this different than just working with the limbic system.

Irene Lyon 1:00:45
And I say it this way, if you were to try to build a car, from the ground up, you’re not just going to focus on the timing belt, right? You need all of it, right. And so one of the biggest, I would say foundational differences from Smart Body, Smart Mind, or even the 21 Day Nervous System Tune Up to lead beautiful lead into that is that we’re not just working with the timing belt, we’re not just working with the limbic system, we’re working with the entire body.

Irene Lyon 1:01:51
And as you know, it’s not just the basics. We’re working with anger and shame and the body and the gut and the brainstem and movement. We’re bringing the Feldon Christ. And so we’re really hitting the body with all these different juicy elements that from again, experience. It works when you’re bringing all these pieces together.

Courtney Townley 1:02:12
For sure. Yeah, yes. Well, I’m so excited because I have had so many students go through it, I’ve gone through it.

Courtney Townley 1:02:19
And yeah, so anyone listening who, you know, just can resonate with what we have spoken about today, which I’m sure is everyone on some level. I was going to ask you, one of the questions I had written down was who is exempt from this work? I know the answer nobody?

Irene Lyon 1:02:33
Well, I’ll actually I’ll say there’s there’ll be one type, but that person probably isn’t watching this. Okay. And that would be someone who really is mentally unstable and cannot even get out of I shouldn’t say get out of bed because we’ve been had people who’ve been bed bound, true story.

Irene Lyon 1:03:47
Do Smart Body Smart Mind and then work with Courtney, one on one and you’ve got the magic deal right there.

Courtney Townley 1:03:52
Magic deal? Yeah. I love it. Well, you know, I, I know that my community is very familiar with who you are.

Courtney Townley 1:04:00
And, you know, part of the reason I just consistently bring you back is because I feel so strongly now, of course, more than ever, because I’m more educated that this work is so foundational to the type of work that I do, which is, you know, we have to get to a functioning level before we can actually climb the mountains. We’re really here to Summit. And, you know, I think for a long time, I just thought, well, everyone should be able to summit everyone should be able to climb right and completely missing. Yeah, this layer. So here we are. I think our first conversation was, what, seven years ago. It was when you just started your show. Yeah, seven years ago.

Irene Lyon 1:04:41

Courtney Townley 1:04:42

Irene Lyon 1:04:42

Courtney Townley 1:04:43
I know.

Irene Lyon 1:04:45
It’s only 40 then

Courtney Townley 1:04:52
yeah, I cannot I cannot speak highly enough of the program or you know, and really just the crux of the work in terms of how life is altering it is like you will absolutely. If you do the work, find yourself in a more peaceful space.

Courtney Townley 1:05:08
And I think that’s ultimately what everyone wants. They just want to feel more peace in their life with how they’re living it with how they’re showing up with how they’re responding. And I feel like this just gives us such a great framework for really tapping into that.

Irene Lyon 1:05:22
And kudos to you, Courtney, because you took this on when you knew that you were pissed off about-

Courtney Townley 1:05:29
I don’t think I had a choice hiring. Yeah, I think I could see like you were talking about you know how people have to just be in so much pain and everyone’s pain looks different. But for me, it was just like, I knew it was going to cost me way more than I was willing to spend. Yeah, if I didn’t get if I didn’t start healing myself on that level. Yeah. So it’s so good. It was definitely hitting that brick wall. Like okay, like it’s time Courtney.

Irene Lyon 1:05:59
Beautiful. And for everyone listening on your side. Don’t let yourself hit the broke brick wall. If you have, please, I’m looking at your brick wall behind you.

Courtney Townley 1:06:08
Oh, it looks very real. And some people have to hit the brick wall like 50 times don’t do before they’re like finally like, oh, well, maybe I should think about that.

Irene Lyon 1:06:20
Yeah, honest to God. If you haven’t hit the brick wall yet. Now is the perfect time to do this. Yeah, if you have hit the brick wall, also do it. But there’s something to be said about getting this work under your belt before the system cracks. Yeah, because it is it’s it is that much harder to clean it up once you’ve gone over that edge. It doesn’t mean you can’t you definitely can. Right. But it is I understand it’s like oh no, I’m not that screwed up. I’m gonna wait for if you have the capacity and the resources to do it, do this now. Yeah, but a year from now things will just be Oh, so different. And I know that for a fact.

Courtney Townley 1:06:20
Yeah. Oh, I do too. And it’s it is it’s just never too soon. You know, it’s like saying there’s a perfect time to have a child or start a business or whatever it is. There just never is and a year from now, you’ll wish you would start it up. Because the it is such an ongoing process. And you know, at least getting that off the ground over the next year. will serve you well. No doubt and the planet you were coming back in time. We didn’t set a lot of number but we know a lot. I know. I know. I know.

Irene Lyon 1:07:02
No, it’s great.

Courtney Townley 1:07:19
Yay. Awesome.

Irene Lyon 1:07:31
Thanks, Courtney.

Courtney Townley 1:07:38
Thank you for listening to the Grace and Grit Podcast. It is time to mend the fabric of the female health story. And it starts with you taking radical responsibility for your own self care. You are worth the effort and with a little grace and grit anything is possible.


Irene Lyon

More about today’s guest:

Irene Lyon, MSC. and nervous system expert, teaches people around the world how to work with the nervous system to transform trauma, heal body and mind, and live full, creative lives. To date, her online programs have reached thousands of people in over 60 countries. Irene has a Master’s Degree in Biomedical and Health Science and also has a knack for making complex info easy for ALL of us to understand and apply to our lives. She has extensively studied and practices the works of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, Peter Levine (founder of Somatic Experiencing) and Kathy Kain (founder of Somatic Practice). Irene spends her free time eating delicious food, hiking in the mountains or walking along the Pacific Ocean in her hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Irene’s Social Media Links:
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