316: Navigating Nervous System Health for Behavior Change w/ Irene Lyon
Nervous system health is intimately linked with EVERYTHING I teach and talk about on the Grace & Grit podcast. Which is why I am having yet another conversation with my good friend and nervous health expert, Irene Lyon.
In this interview, we explore the connections that the nervous system has to:
- Midlife Wellness
- Taking Risks
- Developing Health Relationships
… and so much more.
Plus, there is a special invitation inside to dive deeper into the work that Irene does with nervous system regulation and the work that I do with behavior change.
Have a listen! And please share with women who might also benefit from listening.
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!
Irene Lyon, MSC
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.
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Welcome to Grace & Grit.
The Grace & Grit podcast is your go-to resource for reclaiming, generating, protecting and expressing your power as a woman in midlife.
This show will completely change the way you think about health & well-being and help you make your second act the best one yet!
- 320: The Power of Letting Go
- 319: From Digital Distraction to Digital Wellness: Insights and Strategies for Better Tech Use w/ Dr Kristy Goodwin
- 318: The Hiding Habit: Understanding and Conquering the Urge to Avoid Action
- 317: The Midlife-Anxiety Connection
- 316: Navigating Nervous System Health for Behavior Change 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 0:29
Hello, my friends, and welcome to the Grace & Grit Podcast. This is your host, Courtney Townley. As always I’m delighted you decided to join me today. And hey, if you haven’t heard, Grace & Grit has a new digital home. We have a brand new website. It’s been a year in the making. It is awesome stuff. So if you have a second go ahead and check it out. graceandgrit.com.
Courtney Townley 0:50
Now I have talked a lot on this show about nervous system health. In fact, I have had my dear friend and nervous system expert Irene Lyons, come on this show. I don’t even know how many times now. It’s been a lot. And the reason that nervous system health is such a important topic to me and to women’s health in general to anybody’s health in general, is that nervous system health is intimately linked with literally everything we talked about on this show.
Courtney Townley 1:22
So today, I have invited yet again, my dear friend Irene Lyons back to the show, to explore how her work really helps to serve the work that I teach in the world, because I help women with behavior change. And the truth is, behavior change is really difficult to do if your nervous system is highly dysregulated. And I read programs Smart Body Smart Mind is open for registration once a year, it happens to be Now up until February 21 The doors are open.
Courtney Townley 1:58
And we are offering a six month free membership into Rumble & Rise as a bonus to that course because that’s how passionate I am about the content of Iran’s work. Now in this interview specifically, we explore connections that the nervous system has to things like midlife wellness, because I mostly work with women in the midlife population.
Courtney Townley 2:25
We talk about self-leadership Because one of the biggest tenants of my work is self-leadership we talk about taking risks, and how nervous system health is actually the foundation for going after things you want to create in your life. We talk about developing healthy relationships and the connectedness that relationships have to our nervous system health and so much more.
Courtney Townley 2:52
So if you are someone who is new to the nervous system health conversation, or you are someone who is constantly trying to learn everything you can about the nervous system, I think you will find there is a lot packed in here that will help serve both of those camps. So sit back, enjoy. And I hope you walk away with a little bit more information about how to best honor your nervous system.
Irene Lyon 4:17
I am technically I’ll just put it out there the credential. So people know, I have by a bachelor’s in exercise physiology. So fitness and nutrition was my first love and still is. My second study was biomedical science, I did a Masters of research and that working with humans and strength training, so that was, you know, my science world.
Irene Lyon 5:55
And then I got into something called the Feldenkrais Method, which is a very sophisticated form of Mind Body, neuroplasticity work through some injuries I sustained from my crazy days, skiing, and jumping off of cliffs and all those things in my 20s. And that opened my eyes to what we might call the mind body world. What I realized as I started to practice in that realm, is that there was a very strong or large subset of people who needed a little more than that mind body work. And that’s where the trauma and the nervous system, not that the nervous system wasn’t being used in those other methodologies.
Irene Lyon 6:33
But dysregulation, chronic stress traps traumas, I got into that, that led me down the path of what is called somatic experiencing the work of Peter Levine, so I am trained at the highest level. Not withstanding, of course, I’m not a trainer in that work, but I’ve assisted at the highest levels of SE. And then the other thing that really rounded out my career, if you will, is the work of Kathy Cain, and Steven Terrell. And they formed kind of another branch from SAE, but it’s its own work, working with early trauma, developmental trauma, and what we would call pre verbal trauma. So stuff that happens to us as humans before we can make sense, make cognition make behavioral understanding meaning of things.
Irene Lyon 7:21
So things that would happen in utero, also intergenerationally, but also when we’re like under the age of three, when things are not fully, cognitively online yet. So that is a long spiel to say, I am a somatic practitioner by trade I have worked with people hands on for years. And I am probably one of the highest level experts in this field of somatic healing, nervous system healing, working with complex PTSD, PTSD, all the DS all the disorders. And yeah, I’ve just been doing this for a lifetime. You know, if I, if I go into my first academic world, it’s been 25 years. And I’ve been working with people for about that long since 1997. So yeah,
Courtney Townley 8:15
it’s yeah, obviously, like the education provides a certain level of expertise. And then the sense of being in the field and working with so many people over the years is a whole nother level.
Irene Lyon 8:26
It is. And one thing I will add that I forgot to say is, right now, in our current day and age, there’s no designation for somatic practitioner. Kind of like, you know, we know what a physical therapist is, we know what a medical doctor is, we know what a lawyer is. They went to law school, they went to medical school, they went to physical therapy school, they had to pass tests they had to apply, they had to show competence, and all these things that doesn’t exist in the somatic healing world at all. There are some certifications.
Irene Lyon 9:00
But what I’m seeing a lot of Courtney, and we’ve talked about this is people who have done a little bit of work on themselves, they’ve maybe taken some online summit courses, three months, so I’m gonna say this with air quotes, certification, or they’ve done one level of SE and they’re saying that they are providing nervous system healing work, and maybe some people are great at what they do, and they’re just naturally inclined, but this stuff is complex. Yeah. It is not something you can learn in a few months. Like I said, I started working at this level of SC and working with trauma in 2008. And it’s, I still learn I am still working through this stuff on my own. So we’re in a bit of a wild west right now.
Courtney Townley 9:51
It seems like we get there with so many things don’t we do?
Irene Lyon 9:55
Like, it’s like everybody is and I get it. You know, to be fair We now know, without a doubt through the research, if we do not have regulation in our nervous system and, and secure attachment with ourselves in the world, things aren’t very good. Things break down. Yeah. And I think what you said about behavior change is so key. Because yes, there’s so many behaviors that are nasty and not good and harmful and not helpful. And while sometimes we might need to make a behavior change, really stick for the sake of survival in a situation, if we aren’t getting into that foundation. Yep. We’re not building that topsoil for us a farming analogy. We’re not going to grow a beautiful ecosystem. It’s just it’s just not going to stick. Yeah.
Courtney Townley 10:47
And so two things I want to clarify everything that you said, somatic, would you just just elaborate on that word? Because I know that some people are hearing it and they’re like, What is she speaking to what Yeah,
Irene Lyon 10:57
Soma just means a in Greek its body. And so somatic is a term that is kind of thrown out. In the world of mind, body, healing health as a word like people will say, Oh, I’m doing Cymatics. But it doesn’t really mean anything. One could say going to the gym is somatic work. You’re using your body. Sure. Right. And so somatic experiencing, which is the trademarked a body of work that Peter Levine put out into the world, even that doesn’t explain everything that might occur in a somatic experiencing session.
Irene Lyon 11:36
But the core we could say, thread is that you are learning how to be with your body. And you’re learning to listen to your body, and be connected deeply in what we would call the interception. And this is, I think, the prime piece of smart body smart mind, there’s a reason it’s smart body, smart mind, not smart mind smart body. Right? So an obvious piece there, but our body, it governs everything, and we can be fit. This is what’s so strange about the human system. We can be fit, we can be feeding ourselves the best foods ever. But if our autonomic nervous system physiology, which governs our survival, stressors, yes, is off. Yes.
Irene Lyon 12:33
All the housekeeping internally is also going to be off because our primary function as humans is to survive. Yes. And if there’s even a perceived threat that isn’t really there, we will stay ramped up ramped up, right, or will be shut down. In some form of, we would call it freeze shocked Association. And be darn functional doing it, you know, like being in life. And this is, I think, the plague of Western civilization is we have pushed so darn hard through so many hard circumstances. And yet, we haven’t healed a lot of the hurts and harms. But because of our higher brain, we can push, we can persevere stoicism, all these things. It allows us to push through which let’s face it in times we need to,
Courtney Townley 13:26
yeah, you know, they love how you phrase that like high functioning, because I see that a lot in my own work, where it’s like this high functioning dysfunction of people. And the other thing I wanted to highlight was that the when when people think about behavior change, they often are very stuck in a space of judgment and frustration, because they feel like they’re trying so hard. And it’s just not working. And what I love about your work and people starting to tap into your work is it really gives them the opportunity to extend compassion to themselves. Yeah, the Hey, it’s it’s not you’re not broken? No, it’s that the systems need some attention. Yeah. And this system in particular needs some attention.
Irene Lyon 14:15
100% the word that came to me when you were saying that is flow, like we need to have flow, not just like metaphorically and in our day, but in our organs in the pipes of our body in the cells and the fluids, the tissue, and there’s something about strict behavior modification, that puts us into a bit of a tensed archetype like a tense quality, an armored quality of we would call it bracing, you know, where you might you know, you’re in a, let’s say, you’re in a car and you see that you might need to slam on the brakes.
Irene Lyon 14:55
You naturally brace you know, even if it isn’t an accident and you’re like, oh, Maybe you miss that, you know, the the light was just about to turn because your your attention got grabbed to something on the street and you you know that is not you don’t think okay, I better brace because I’m about to slam on the brakes really hard. Yeah, you do it automatically. And so many people in our western world are moving through life, not realizing how braced how to how tense the flip side is not that it’s the opposite collapsed.
Irene Lyon 15:37
This is where depression comes in. This is where lack of vitality comes in lack of energy comes in that burnout, that adrenal fatigue. Yeah, right. And then there’s some people that if they see that, that light, even if they wanted to muster the energy to brace they couldn’t. Yes. So these two things are still on the spectrum of the nervous system being dysregulated.
Courtney Townley 15:58
I love how you explain that. I’ve never heard it that way. You said say it that way. But why that was beautiful, like, like I can totally see. Right? And I can think of 1000 examples of women who I have worked with personally, who were either braced in that digestion, does it flow? Yeah, they’re constipated. Their their shoulders are constantly up in their ears. They’re not taking deep breaths, right? Like they’re in that braced state. And then of course, the collapse is just there’s no motivation, no sense of purpose. Yeah, you know, feeling that, you know, anything is hugely effortful, no matter how small we make the task.
Irene Lyon 16:40
Yeah. And we do it in little micro ways. Yeah, it’s kind of part of our North America, at least elsewhere in North America, North American culture, you you get up, and I’m guilty of this, you know, like, you drive yourself, you know, to work, and go, go go, and there’s so many things to do. And then what happens at night? What does Netflix provide?
Irene Lyon 17:02
What is Amazon Prime, a collapse on the couch should just zone out and there’s nothing wrong with watching a show and, and taking in entertainment. I think that’s a part of what’s so cool about humanity is the arts. But there is a cycle that you see where that’s kind of like we go, go, go, go go charge Charge, charge sympathetic. And then because we have to, if we didn’t chill out at night, we would be wired. To distraction. Yeah. And we wouldn’t be able to sleep. Yeah, you know, so it kind of it’s a macro and a micro, but then you can also see that within the tissues. And yeah, chronic tension. Yeah. is so big, as is the bowel problems that you just mentioned, right? Constipation is a big thing.
Courtney Townley 17:51
Yeah, yeah. It’s so interesting inside of my community, just this past month, we were talking about, you know, planning your days in a way that pollinate in sort of the parasympathetic, the rest and digest, not eating it all up for sleep, and for the end of the day, but like, how do we actually organize ourselves? We’re oscillating throughout the day, so we don’t feel like we’re just collapsing at the end of the day and then relying on sleep to do all its magic at night.
Irene Lyon 18:20
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, one example, how many people here when they eat during the day actually sit down and eat?
Courtney Townley 18:27
Right? You know, with it down in like five minutes? Yeah.
Irene Lyon 18:31
Or, you know, and I again, I’m guilty of this while checking an email listening to a voice message. And I have been trying even myself to take my bowl of soup, or my leftovers and sit on the couch and just sit there. Yes, don’t take the phone, crack a window, get some air in or go outside. And even if it’s just three minutes, Courtney because that’s how much time it might take to eat a bowl of soup. That still brings the stress response down that still brings the gogogo that puts you into that rest digest of the parasympathetic cultures all around the world. What do they do after they eat lunch? They siesta? Yeah, they
Courtney Townley 19:12
do the wrong culture. Irene?
Irene Lyon 19:13
I know let’s go to Italy. You know, but it’s true. Like they’ll they’ll sit on the porch. My mother’s from the Philippines. There’s a lot of porch sitting in that culture, at least in the country. You know, like, yes, things get done, but there isn’t that pressure.
Courtney Townley 19:29
Yeah. And meals are also like an event. It’s like you, you sit at the table and you have conversation and you put your fork down between bites and it’s you know, it’s a it’s an experience smelling the food tasting the food talking versus it’s just shoveling the food in usually well, like you said checking email or watching Netflix. Yeah. And then the other thing is we we miss out on the pleasure of the simple things like eating so it makes a whole lot of sense why we keep eating
Irene Lyon 20:00
Halia because we’re not paying attention. And that comes back to that interoception. And this is actually where people have trouble with food, whether it’s eating disorders or not having good signals for hunger or satiety, yes. And just the other day, I had someone send a message. And two of them actually, one person was so pissed off, because she can no longer finish her whole piece of cake. Because she feels full, she’s full. I’m like, I can’t eat it anymore. And she sent me a picture. Like she posted it on Social, I’m like, Oh, that’s so sweet.
Irene Lyon 20:35
And then the other was someone who had only gone through the 21 Day Nervous System tune up, which is my base level course. And they said, like, not only am I more connected to myself, in my environment, my addiction is gone. And we didn’t try to like force this person to stop. We never in any of this work, say stop eating this, don’t do that do more of this. It’s restoring the health back to the system. And when the system really wants health. Sure, it will have maybe a lovely glass of red wine, but it’s not going to have the whole bottle. Yeah. Because it’s feels that
Courtney Townley 21:09
you know, awareness there. Absolutely.
Irene Lyon 21:11
That’s right. And I just think that there is if we had Courtney, and everyone here, solid regulation in those first five years of life, and mom was connected in this connected way to herself, and baby and the environment, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, like all of us could just go on, like do other things. Right? Because there wouldn’t be a need to regulate the system because it would have gotten regulated in the first place.
Irene Lyon 21:45
Now, of course, modern day world has its stressors, even when you are regulated. Yeah, of course. But having followed certain people’s careers and lives, you know, you’ll hear these stories of people that have had gruesome histories like of abuse and, and, you know, being imprisoned when they shouldn’t have been, and then they come out, and they’re, yeah, they have a little PTSD, but they’re actually okay. And it’s like, why did that how, you know, how did that happen? It’s like, well, this person was brought up in a very tribal connected system, community. And so while they had this atrocity happened to them as an adult, their topsoil to go back to return for farming was so solid. I’m thinking about just this seems a bit cryptic. There’s a wonderful movie called the Mauritanian Have you heard of this?
Courtney Townley 22:40
No, but I think I saw you post something about
Irene Lyon 22:42
Jodie Foster and and the Deke Cumber something, okay. And it’s about a man from Mauritania, which is a country in Africa, who was wrongly put into Guantanamo Bay for like, 15 years coordinate, wow. 11 years. And God only knows what happened to him. I mean, they’re, they depicted it in the movie, and, and you follow him on Instagram, his name is Mahamadou. And I’ve had some conversations with him over Instagram. And he’s just so loving. He’s He’s friends with his prison guard.
Irene Lyon 23:15
They just did an interview. There’s Pete, and it’s like, you watch that and go, how’s that possible? Yeah. Well, he decided to not play victim. Yes. It sucked to that he lost that much of his life. And I got out. I’m free. I’m healthy. Yes, I have some troubles with some trauma responses and memories and all of this. But, you know, how could someone who got went through something so drastic be okay. Well, it’s that base level regulation. Yeah. So that might seem depressing for someone who’s like, well, I didn’t get that base level regulation. Yeah.
Irene Lyon 23:51
And it’s like, yep, that really sucks. And what’s cool, is that the human adult system when it wants to learn, so you have to want to do this. Yes. We have the capacity to rebuild and rewire through neuroplasticity how to present. And that’s exactly what this work does.
Courtney Townley 24:12
So let’s talk because this is the part where we talked the other day at Instagram live about sort of the midlife female population. Yeah. Traveling through midlife carrying more responsibility than you probably ever have and have had in your life. Yeah. also realizing there’s some renovation work that needs to be done because your hormones aren’t online that they weren’t. they once were. Yep.
Courtney Townley 24:34
And then could also possibly unconsciously contending with the fact that you never did get that regulation as a child. Yes. So making change at any stage, even with a regulated nervous system is is challenging. Nobody’s arguing that extra challenging and extra stressful and in some ways extra impossible when we are dealing with a nervous system. That is so true. racked up,
Irene Lyon 25:01
jacked up and in some ways, terrified. Yeah. And looking for all the reasons to hide. Yeah, you know, terrified and hiding. And this is I think the cocktail that many women especially there’s a reason why they say that women have more prevalence of neurodegenerative conditions like Ms. Yeah,
Irene Lyon 25:26
for example, more women have autoimmune conditions. I personally don’t think that’s a genetic thing or a female thing. I actually think it is a cultural, societal thing. And there’s a whole other Podcast in there about feminism, and equality. And yes, equal rights are very important. But men, the female isn’t meant to do all those things. And also do this and this and this and this. Right. And I think that puts a super duper big burden on the female system, because they’re not we’re not resting.
Courtney Townley 26:07
Well, I know we just brings to mind for me the good girl complex, right? When you’re good girl all the time and sort of make everyone around you happy and don’t ruffle the water. Where’s my body? Go in that to the brace state? Yeah, right. Everything, you know, just seizes up, because I’m afraid to step on anything. Yeah, would upset somebody.
Irene Lyon 26:27
Exactly. And I made this analogy or comparison the other day, I have a friend who has twins. And they’re 17. And the son is a bit of the reckless one. He’s like, driving cars fast. I always want to do many girlfriends, you know. And then the daughter, she is perfect. Like, like, she knows where she’s going to college. She knows what she’s doing all these things like she was the perfect one. She never caused any problems. And I’ve known them since they were weak and little like in Mama’s belly. And the other day, the sons, my friend, I got this from my friend. He’s like, walked into my son’s room. And he’s just laying there. And I’m like, What are you doing? He’s like, I’m resting. I was like, What do you mean, you’re resting? You’re 17. He’s like, I’m chilling out dad. And it was just so great. Because I’m and I said to my friend, I said, Don’t mock that. He is actually taking care of himself.
Irene Lyon 27:29
And, and the thing that’s interesting, Courtney is when I was in private practice, I’m no longer I would work with usually it was women who were really unwell, like, chronic pain, fatigue, severe anxiety, panic, often these things got triggered by a life event that was scary, like a car accident, for example. And I’m thinking of this one client who fit this bill. She was the responsible one in her family system out of her siblings. And she took care of everything she cleaned, she cooked, she paid the bills, like when she was 10 years old. That is not conducive. I get shivers thinking about it right now, to good regulation, when you should be growing and exploring and playing and connecting with friends. She was an adult. Yeah.
Irene Lyon 28:18
And all that stress was stored in her and then she has this car accident in her 20s. And everything just explodes. And so for many family systems, typically I’m sure there’s instances where the brother or the son takes over, but usually it is the woman, the woman, the lady, the girl. It’s our nurture. It’s our ability to multitask a million things. So the reason we see the thing in the refrigerator when our husband is standing there staring right at it, and they don’t see it so that one person has better or the worse you know those two?
Irene Lyon 28:52
Well, it’s not that one person is it’s just how we’re built differently in a way to take care of a lot. Yeah. I also think this is why women are so exceptional, exceptional at being CEOs and running businesses, because they can multitask a million things. And remember every single person’s birthday. Yeah, that’s a lot to take on.
Courtney Townley 29:18
And it makes me think of like, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. And, and also, maybe you are maybe we are built to handle a lot of things in a system that has the capacity to do so. Yeah, but this is where we’re rumbling. This is where so many of us are trying to take on so much inside of a system, especially at midlife where the capacity is already lowering. And all we’re doing is adding to it expecting it to perform at a higher higher level. And we haven’t done the work of healing and regulating and nurturing which is why I love your program so much.
Irene Lyon 29:58
The thing I want to add there too, just to make a connection to longevity and health. Yes. Because there might be some folks listening to this who don’t consider them to be living in complex PTSD or an autoimmune condition, or some form of cancer or chronic pain. Just wait. If you don’t take care of this stuff, the research is pretty darn conclusive that eventually, something will break down.
Irene Lyon 30:26
I don’t say that to be morose and mean, it’s just, we were also seeing more and more humans, women getting sick younger. Right menstruation problems, younger hormonal problems, younger depression problems, younger cancers younger. And that, I think, is not just due to environmental toxins and such, it is a big thing. But it is this constant pressure. And so there is something to be said about tending the garden before it needs a complete overhaul. Because once it’s hit rock bottom, the system, it will take a lot more energy, and a lot more time and money and resource to rebuild that topsoil, versus if it’s sort of so so you can do a lot more with that ecosystem than if it’s completely barren.
Courtney Townley 31:18
Yeah. Yeah. And even, you know, you and I talk about this, I think in every conversation that we have, but learning this work and understand better understanding the nervous system doesn’t just have health implications for you. It has health implications for every relationship that you will ever be in, in your life, because you start to see people differently. Yes.
Courtney Townley 31:43
And I think that that for, you know, for me, especially being a mother, and also being, I don’t want to say I’m in an intolerant person, I think I’ve ever very tolerant person and a lot of ways, but I think if I look at my tolerance level 10 years ago, versus where it is now, it’s just radically different. You know, and so I do, I do think that this opens up, not just compassion for yourself, but compassion for other people, and maybe looking at people’s behavior through a different lens than judgment or irritation, or, you know, having knowing
Irene Lyon 32:21
When we see this through a nervous system, or when we see humanity and our immediate environment through this lens, everything shifts. Yeah, you know, I always use the metaphor, it’s like you have, you know, the matrix movies. You’ve taken the red pill. Some people don’t like me using that metaphor, but it is the most perfect example for this. Because once you see it, you can’t unsee it. Yeah.
Irene Lyon 32:45
You see the checkout person at the grocery store differently. Yeah, you see the kid with the parent who just won’t smile differently. You see your children differently. You see your pets differently. You know, you see world events differently. Oh, yeah. Like
Courtney Townley 33:01
I remember it really early conversation you and I had, I mean, this was years ago, you were talking about, you know, people who have no spatial awareness. And I was, and I was just it hit home for me because it is a pet peeve of mine. When I’m in a grocery store, or I’m anywhere and someone is in my bubble, you know, and you were talking about how this is actually a sign of nervous system dysregulation. Oh, man. Yeah. And now, of course, it still happens in my world all the time. And I just take a deep breath. Yeah. And I just, you know, extend a little silent love to the person and see it in such a different way. Yeah. Then I would have had I not, you know, yeah, down this road. Yeah.
Irene Lyon 33:44
I as well. And sometimes it astounds me what I see. You know, I’m thinking about a time maybe a month or two ago, I was in a grocery store, very tight. aisle. And I literally Courtney was maybe not even a foot away from someone like she was right in front of where I needed to get through or go through. She had no concept that I was there, and I am not a small person. Right. And, and I wait, I literally just stood there. Nothing.
Irene Lyon 34:13
And then finally I said, Excuse me, didn’t hear me. Excuse me. Didn’t hear me. So excuse me, like, oh, that I felt sorry for this woman. Because if she was in the wild, yeah, she’d be dead. Yeah, she’d be toast. Yeah. And this is how we get into accidents. This is how we don’t see things coming at us. literally and metaphorically. Yeah. So someone who has that low of a kinesthetic field of awareness, sense of another energetic being, like, that is a deep, deep, deep shutdown of the nervous system. Yeah. And, you know, and it goes both ways. Some folks are the opposite. They’re overly vigilant and afraid of everybody. around them. So it just it really was interest. It’s interesting to me.
Courtney Townley 35:04
It is really interesting to see these things. Yeah. Yeah. And also, and I don’t think I’ve asked you about this, but it’s something that comes up a lot in my work is, obviously we’re living in a time where distraction is just everywhere. Like there’s so much opportunity for distraction. Oh, yes. And a lot of women at midlife are getting diagnosed now with ADHD. And it comes up so frequently, and I’m just really curious what maybe your thoughts are about the connection between a really chronically high stress life and an inability to focus and sort of be in the moment with the things that you know, people miss play, and I do realize that perimenopause, there’s a hormonal factors here, where our brain goes through a temporary shift, as hormones are down regulating and whatnot. But is there a correlation?
Irene Lyon 35:58
Oh, yeah, I mean, attention deficit disorder, if we call it that is essentially a lack of our ability to, as you said, Stay focused. Yeah. And be in the present moment. And what is it that keeps us out of the present moment, it is vigilance, it is our inability to be settled. So I often use a an analogy of a swimming pool in a beach, like a big swimming pool with lots of beach balls in it in some of my teaching, and it’s essentially, you take this female, I’ll use myself as an example who’s been overachieving, hasn’t done any work, go go go doing all the things.
Irene Lyon 36:38
There’s so many balls in her pool, so many stressors, so many unhealed traumas, unmet needs, all these things. And people go two ways. Usually they’ll either disconnect, which allows them to not have attention, or they’ll be hyper vigilant to all of the stress in the system. And you know, it’s interesting that you said more and more women are being diagnosed with that. I believe it I haven’t heard that yet. But my hunch is, it’s a it’s an artifact of what we’ve been talking about that females are under stress and strain and doing all the things.
Irene Lyon 37:15
But then you add in this device here of the mobile phone, and you add in the new cycles, and you add in less, let’s I mean, if I look at my whatsapp app, I am in connection with way too many people around the world. Yeah. I love all these people. They’re most people that I’ve met like you through podcasts. But like, there was a moment where I could keep up with these messages per day. Now, it might be a week or two before I can actually respond.
Irene Lyon 37:47
And it’s not because I don’t want to Sure. But because we have all these, these connections worldwide, I think that is also adding more stress and strain. Because you know, back in the day, the female would just know, their immediate family and their immediate friends, right for birthdays, events. And now, holy moly. There’s like this global contingency. It’s like we’re diplomats for every single country.
Courtney Townley 38:16
I know. And you people don’t like hearing that constraint is a part of the healthy nervous system and a healthy life. Yeah, because we just want all the opportunity and all the things at all times. And it’s like, well, yeah, you can have it and there’s a cost.
Irene Lyon 38:30
It’s tough. Like I would love to talk to every single person that I have connection with our world every single week, and it might take six months to book that call. Yeah. And, and again, this goes back to, again, that’s so interesting about the add, if we think of say Gabor ma Taize work, whom has been kind of a leader, a medical leader and an author in the field of stress, trauma and disease. One of his first books probably in my opinion, still the best one when the body says no, yes.
Irene Lyon 39:00
A lot of the folks that were again, dying sick from chronic illness like MS and ALS and rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune were women. And these women were quote unquote perfect. They they didn’t make mistakes, they were always apologizing for not being good enough for not showing up enough for not doing enough but it was the going going going that made them sick. But that’s that’s rooted so young.
Irene Lyon 39:30
And like you said, be the good little girl be the people pleaser smile, even though you don’t want to be here. And there’s so many factors to that. And then like I said, you add in the technology that we have access to and this desire to connect and have community online. And then it’s just an It’s like another weight on the system
Courtney Townley 39:52
And all the examples online of how imperfect we still are. Has we’re just bombarded with all of this. Oh wow. I’m not as good or as put together or whatever it is that I thought I was.
Irene Lyon 40:05
Yeah, it’s really confusing right now, especially for young kids. Yeah. Right. I mean, that I know. No, I know,
Courtney Townley 40:13
I actually have a digital health expert coming on the show next month for this reason, because it’s, again, it’s a conversation, we’re just constantly revisiting inside my community about how to forge a healthy relationship with technology, because most of most of us don’t have one.
Irene Lyon 40:30
We don’t and you know, you and I are of the Gen where we didn’t have this growing up, I think, and that I think we’re a rare breed, like someone said, we’re going to be in like the Smithsonian one day like this, these these people did not grow up with these things. Yeah. And those that are like, I am worried about the generation that you know, and some people will say, Oh, it’s just part of it. You know, our parents didn’t have television than we did. But you didn’t bring the television in your backpack
Irene Lyon 41:00
Right and have in your pocket? I mean, I know. Yeah. All right, I want to ask you about before we wrap this up, because a lot of my work is around self-leadership, really helping women direct their decision making in the health in the health arena, and of course, in every arena of their life, but we really focus on the health arena.
Irene Lyon 41:20
And when I think about self-leadership, I think about how we handle setbacks and challenges and make decisions and rumble with disappointments, and all of those things. And nervous system health is 100% at the root of this. Yes.
Irene Lyon 41:37
Can you do a little bit maybe to your your thoughts on the connection between nervous system regulation and our ability to lead ourselves through the world in a way that keeps us in integrity with ourselves?
Irene Lyon 41:49
Yeah, well, you know, it goes back to when we were young. Oddly, there’s a period of time when we’re young when we’re really dependent on our primary caregiver, right? Yeah, for everything, food, shelter, warmth, connection, when we’re not feeling well, so that we learn how to self regulate through that CO regulation. Again, so many didn’t get that.
Irene Lyon 42:14
And then there’s, then there’s a point in time, around five ish, four ish, where the human starts to really I mean, you’ll see a little soul and a baby too. Like there’s there’s differences as well. But there is a an independence and aggression and a healthy way a healthy aggression, a healthy life Spark, some might call it authenticity, I like to call it individuality, that starts to flourish around that four year old when the child when the human can be a bit more able, you know, they can carry their stuff, they can put stuff into their room, they can help clear the table, they can have an opinion. Exactly, yes.
Irene Lyon 42:57
They can ask questions. Why? Why? Yeah, like that is such an important part of the human development. Now, let’s say that that doesn’t get done very well, because parents are in their own stress. They don’t realize that this has to occur in a little human. They, they, they see it as a nuisance. They see it as a strain. They see their kid as a past. And we then condition these little people to don’t, don’t bethat way.
Courtney Townley 43:26
Right? Don’t express yourself don’t Yeah,
Irene Lyon 43:29
Exactly. So this expression, but also, you know, the self-leadership I see it going back to, you know, did little Susie and Johnny learn how to clean their room by themselves, or was it always being done by mom? Did they learn how to pack their own lunches when they were young? Did they learn how to clean up the table after a family meal? Were they disciplined in a healthy way?
Irene Lyon 43:56
That that creates self-leadership. Because when you feel the accomplishment of cleaning your space, and of course you got to learn that through your parents. And it gets reinforced use you just do that. So again, I’m speculating here, but I think a lot of our struggle to self lead, and to do all the things that might ripple out from that. They stem often from how did that get ingrained when we were really young. And so then, someone might say, well, while I read, I can’t go back and repair it myself. And no, you cannot.
Irene Lyon 44:34
But you can re connect with the biology that maybe didn’t get that good kickstart. Totally and oddly, Courtney and you know this, but oddly, when we get our biology back onboard, when we start to listen to our hunger cues accurately, our fatigue cues or energy cues, our impulses in you know that that byelaw logical impulse that we teach so much and smart body smart mind, when we learn how to listen to our stress responses, maybe we start to have memories and feelings of grief and sadness, because we weren’t taught how to self lead as a little one or opposite too much.
Irene Lyon 45:17
I probably got too much when I was young, I was running an animal hospital by the time I was 10. Yeah, you know, I could answer the phones, I could prescribe meds I cannot prescribe. But yeah, you know, put put together the prescriptions, I could clean dog’s ears, I could vaccinate cats do X rays. I mean, I had too much self-leadership Young. And so I swung the other way. And I had to learn how to actually be lazy. Yeah, in my adult years, which I’m still working on.
Irene Lyon 45:45
So I think I hope this makes sense. But how we act and our and behave as adults, stems very deeply into our first few years of life. We can’t reparent ourselves. But what we can do is we can relearn the things that drive that capacity to be self led, which do come down into this into this biology and self and the brain to steal a quote from one of my mentors, the brain is an end organ. So the lists the to dues, the behavior change process, it is being driven by that higher brain, but if our higher brain is, is being hijacked by our survival, stress, it’s it’s just never going to fully blossom in the way that it should.
Courtney Townley 46:37
Exactly. And I love what you said there that like there is no, there’s no need to, you know, shame yourself or beat yourself up or lament the fact that you didn’t have these things. I mean, grief would be a natural response, like a to feel disappointed out that of course, yes, but we don’t need to marinate there. What we do need to recognize is that we can change the topsoil, like you so beautifully explained throughout this interview today that, that our foundation is still malleable.
Courtney Townley 47:08
It always is until the demo was on. And that is such a refreshing fact. Is it work? Absolutely. Does it require a lot of repetition and a lot of practice? Absolutely. And for anyone listening today, who really is just sort of intrigued by the conversation, and this this is resonating and landing for you. I rains 12 week program, smart body smart mind is now open for registration. This only happens twice a year. Am I right? Usually only once I know last year was twice. So
Irene Lyon 47:38
Last year was a bit of a weird anomaly. And okay, I don’t know what’s going to happen.
Courtney Townley 47:42
Not sure if you did twice this year? I’m not sure to know.
Irene Lyon 47:46
Yeah, I really don’t know. I don’t really know
Courtney Townley 47:47
Even more important for listeners to know that is your one opportunity registration is open through the 21st, I believe. Yep. of February 2023. Yeah.
Courtney Townley 47:55
And because I’m such an advocate for this program. And we’ve again, we’ve had so many conversations about this, you can search the Podcast and listen to all the podcasts that Irene and I have done over the years. But I am offering anyone who goes through smart body smart mind in this round and uses our link to register, they will get six months of membership inside of our Rumble & Rise community.
Courtney Townley 48:19
And the other thing that’s really important for people to know is that I don’t want to overwhelm your brain, right, we both have a lot of information to share and help people with. So I always give people a three month window to sign up for Rumble & Rise.
Irene Lyon 48:32
Courtney Townley 48:32
So they can go through your program and only focus on that and be all in and do the things. And then when it’s over, if you’re looking for continued support, and you’re looking for a community of people, not all of which have gone through the program, but a lot of them have. Yeah, it’s a pretty cool space for that. And by the way, I was thinking before we did this interview today we will conversation with people who have been in both of our worlds.
Irene Lyon 48:55
I actually just thought about that. Yeah, I’d love to hear what you’re seeing in your community for those of I mean, I my guess is you’re seeing a shift that is that is exponential for those that are getting the nervous system work on board,
Courtney Townley 49:09
For sure. And I would say especially in the regards of so much compassion, right and so much diligence around decompression and making time to rest and recover. Yeah. And and also so much smarter in the way that they’re choosing strategies for change. So anyway, yes, that conversation we have to have it in the future because I think that would be really cool.
Irene Lyon 49:33
One thing I’ll mention, for those that are so new to my work and they don’t know how the program works, I’m starting to reshift how I say program and call it a curriculum. Love it. And the reason why is the investment is not just for 12 weeks, definitely not. So we are live in session for 12 weeks with myself doing weekly training calls As my husband does the q&a calls and then our moderation team stay on for another four weeks. In this case, it’s into mid June to answer questions. And so it isn’t something that I ever recommend a person white knuckle to get through the 12.
Irene Lyon 50:15
Because there’s, there’s actually enough content and enough learning in there to keep a person busy for like five years. For lifetime, literally. Yeah, in terms of a practice. Yeah. And I don’t do that to overwhelm or scare. Yep. Because it’s like, I always use the analogy, learning a second language as an adult, you’re not going to get fluent in 12 weeks, you will get the basics, the essential basics. And if you practice consistently, maybe more than one might if they only do a little bit here and there. But that language is always being refined.
Irene Lyon 50:52
And but then there comes a point where you don’t need the the intensity of study to the same degree because you’ve got your fluency a little bit more on board. The other thing, I’ll also say we have a team that is incredible. And I was actually thinking about this with my team this morning talking about you know, we’re in this registration process. Like do people realize how much they’re getting with not just me and my 20 years of knowledge in the program content, but there are 10 moderation experts who over the like, if I was to add the amount of years of experience and education, oh, my god, like our our eldest elder senior moderator, Jenna, she’s in her 60s, and she’s been doing this work way longer than me. We have psychotherapists, we have counselors, we have Feldenkrais experts, parents, grandparents, it really gives you have a robust support system.
Irene Lyon 51:52
And I will, I can say, confidently, not many online programs out there that focus on the nervous system will give you this. And of course, we have been building this team for years, this is the 13th time, we’ve run smart body smart mind. So again, we’re not our first rodeo, you know, we’ve made lots of improvements and changes. And it’s really, really a solid, it is commitment and investment for life.
Courtney Townley 52:15
On that note, I think it’s really important to let people know, too, that you’d like you said, this is a curriculum. And because this program runs every year, you’re invited back to go through in real time every year. So I went through about three years ago, I signed up and I still go through at least to some degree in every round, which I think is also something that separates it from a lot of programs out there, that you really are cultivating this experience of it being a practice and not like some one and done. thing, no 12 weeks,
Irene Lyon 52:49
None at all. And I mean, I teach the trading calls every single round, and one might think I get bored of them. And I don’t Yeah, you know, I’m different. The day is different. Seth, who does the q&a calls, I mean, his q&a calls are Rockstar, you know, they could be Podcast material times 100. And million, like just every time there’s more that comes in and the group gets smarter, right. So as we all Elevate, and no more of this, the group container in the field of healing that’s created is just powerful. And yeah, it’s, I still really go How did this happen? But it’s, um, it’s happened. And we are we’re doing good work.
Irene Lyon 53:34
So for those that people have questions are so many FAQs on our registration page. Yes. I hope that people really go in and look, yeah, don’t make a survival quick decision. Like go and look at the FAQs. Watch some of the testimonials success stories. Yes. Read the credentials of our team. Like, take your time you have I mean, I don’t know when this is going out, Courtney, but the 21st is still a few days.
Courtney Townley 53:59
We’ll try to do it. So at noon. Normally we drop on Saturdays, but I think we’ll probably drop this a little early, just because Registration closes on the 21st. Yeah. And also, just to that note of the sales page, we made it really easy for people to find it’s just graceandgrit.com/sbsm. Yeah. So, graceandgrit.com/sbsm and we’ll put it underneath the Podcast video and all the all the spaces and places Hey, thanks my friend. They always just get better.
Irene Lyon 54:30
We’re getting better. And that’s the thing, resilience and nervous system growth. It doesn’t have an endpoint. Yeah. And that is another maybe that’s a port to end on is we’ve been taught in the medical model. There’s a problem, fix it, fix it, don’t think about it done. And this is like eating well. This is like sleeping and movement. It’s a way of meaning. It’s a way of Being and when you get it in, it just starts to tick over. And like I said, it’s hard to not see it once you get it.
Courtney Townley 55:07
So true. It’s so true. Yeah, I’m excited. I’m excited for the people listening to this episode and I’m really excited for anybody who signs up for the program this year. Thank you for making the time.
Irene Lyon 55:17
You’re welcome. Thank you.
Courtney Townley 55:19
So have a great day.
Courtney Townley 55:27
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