There are times when our lives are overwhelming and things are not going as planned. It is during this time that gratitude helps to soften what seems never ending.
The challenge is finding gratitude in the midst of frustration, fear and uncertainty.
We forget that we have had uplifting experiences in the past, no matter how minor. The sweet, small events we have had are often overshadowed by the negative.
You do not have to feel grateful to be grateful. It can be a decision and it will help make a shift in your attitude.
Try this simple practice:
- Close your eyes or have a soft gaze.
- Bring to mind some experience that you had in the past that you enjoyed, no matter how small.
- Stay focused on that experience, while taking a few breaths.
- With each slow, deep inhale and exhalation, say the words Thank You.
Let me know in the comments below if this helped reset your attitude. Were you able to take a few moments to try this? If not, what do you think happened?
Many of us have digestion problems and even if you do not, this time of year we tend to overeat, leaving us with bloating and indigestion.
We have tension in our internal organs which decreases the oxygen supply. This directly impacts our ability to take in nutrients from food.
The more oxygen that is absorbed in our internal organs, the healthier they are.
Yoga practices can be helpful:
- Specific yoga poses help with this because the internal organs get a massage, bringing in more blood and oxygen. There are also poses that are effective in relieving bloating and gas.
- Some yoga styles help to decompress spinal tension which helps take the pressure off your organs, increasing blood supply.
- Breath is another yoga technique that is very powerful. The slower, deeper breath creates movement in the diaphragm which massages your stomach and other organs, increasing oxygen and nutrients absorbed as well as expediting the exit of waste.
An easy beginning to get more blood-flow through your organs is to focus is on your breathing.
Custom Calm specializes in both simple, gentle yoga poses to help with internal tension as well as breathing techniques. Practices are easy, accessible and quite effective.
Throughout the holidays, slow down your eating and remember to take slow easy breaths.
Let me know in the comments below what you noticed about your digestion. Were you able to slow down and breathe? If not, why do you think got in your way?
One area where many of us get ourselves into trouble is in our speech.
We react, give advice and simply talk without thinking. This creates hurt feelings and relationship discord. There are many techniques to help with this and this one is simple and quite effective.
Before speaking ask yourself these three questions:
- Is it true?
- Is it kind?
- Is it necessary?
Often the first two are on target, but that third one is a bit tricky to avoid. Many of our comments are well meaning in our minds. Think about how many times you have received unsolicited advice or opinions and how it felt.
Even the most innocent comment can be hurtful and unnecessary.
Taking a moment to pause and get centered before you speak will give you time to ask yourself if what you were about to say is appropriate. This change in behavior will have a positive impact on your relationships and your own inner peace.
Give this a try and let me know in the comments below how it went. Did you hold back on a comment? Did you notice when you made an unnecessary comment?
When I hear the phrase trick or treat, it reminds me of how we are often the mind plays tricks on us.
We see through the filters from our personal history, clouding what is really in front of us. Our reactions and decisions are based on this information.
It takes practice to really see what is happening beyond the stories of the mind and when we can do this, we can live with more clarity and ease.
Give this a try:
- Look at an unusual object
- Say what your immediate perception of the object is (it might remind you of something).
- Now, take a look at the object from all angles.
- Report what you see without any opinions- just report what is actually in front of you.
- Notice what the difference was in your original report and what is actually in front of you.
Let me know in the comments below what you noticed. Was your original report different? How do you think you can use this in your daily life?
We all have things that stress us out.
One of mine is rushing. It is important to me to be on time. When I rush, I notice my heart races, my neck tightens, I don’t breath and I get frustrated. What has changed over the years is simple- I do not rush because I make sure to leave enough time!
Many of us have knee jerk reactions that we have had for decades. We cannot force them to go away, but can make changes to avert the situation.
Often, we set ourselves up for stress and knowing what our hooks are is valuable information.
- Take a few moments and focus on your breath
- Think back and see what you react to. Here are a few examples- traffic, time, travel, hunger, put on hold.
- Track back to what happened preceding the reaction.
- Now make a list of those situations that set you off.
- See how you can make a small shift in behavior to avert them. It might be as simple as pacing yourself, or not allowing yourself to get too hungry (that is another one of mine!).
You will probably find that there are some that are constant in your life. When you realize this, make a few small changes, and you will be amazed at the results. You will experience more peace, calm and joy throughout your day.
Give this a try and let me know what you found. What changes did you make?
The purpose of meditation is to relax the body and quiet the mind. Think of your mind as a jar full of liquid. If you keep pouring more in it will overflow, making a big mess.
First we need to clear our thoughts so we have an empty vessel to reset our attitudes and outlooks.
Meditation is simple, but not easy. Simple, because all you do is concentrate on a single point to focus. Not easy, because the minute you try to quiet your mind, you see just how crazy it is!
Every morning, try this for a few minutes:
- Get in a comfortable position- it can be a chair, the floor, or the bed (dangerous as you will probably meditate yourself to sleep!)
- Focus on your breathing, without changing it in any way- simply notice you are breathing
- Find the most noticeable part of your breathing cycle: For example-The expanding and relaxing of your belly, the breath moving in and out through your nose, or your full breathing cycle.
- Keep focused on that area.
- If your mind gets busy, gently and kindly guide it back to focusing on your breath.
- Practice this daily and work your way up to 5 minutes.
- Keep practicing, even if you do not think it is helping. I promise, it will!
Let me know how this worked for you. If you did not even try to do it, what do you think is stopping you?
One of my students told me that the much of his day was spent on boring household tasks such as dusting and vacuuming. We began exploring the possibility of becoming more mindful while performing them.
Our boring chores are as much as part of the day as exciting events, so why not bring the same attention to them?
You might be surprised at how much more you get out of being present and participating, rather than mindlessly getting them over with.
Try this for the next time you clean, dust, iron or sweep:
- Take a few breaths.
- Look at what needs to be done.
- Pick a place to begin.
- With each movement, watch the object you are cleaning change.
- Notice your body as you are working and if you are uncomfortable shift your alignment.
- Continue to notice each step of the process until you finish.
- Now, look at the end result while taking a few breaths.
- Notice how you feel.
Give this a try and let me know in the comments below if you were able to be mindful of your task. What was your experience of being present when you stayed with the process? If it did not change, what do you think got in the way?
In Thursday’s blog I spoke about how our thoughts create reality.
It is challenging to change our mindset when we are conditioned to think in a certain way. It’s the glass half empty-half full scenario, and much of what our mind focuses stems from habit.
It does not take long to create a new habit, but you must have the desire to change.
- Notice your thoughts and if they are negative take a slow inhale and easy exhale
- If this has not stopped the thought, focus on your breath until your mind quiets down.
- Remember some event that was pleasant for you and experience the feelings that went along with it.
- Stay with those feelings as your breathe in and out.
- Now, notice your state.
- If you begin to revert back to negativity, ask yourself: Which feeling do I want to perpetuate?
Give this a try and let me know in the comments below if this helped. If it did not, what do you think got in your way?
Often we need something we can do quickly to bring ourselves back to the here and now. When we spin out of control agonizing or reacting over situations, we end up creating more tension to our bodies and minds. Our relationships are impacted and our day becomes difficult to enjoy.
Breath is the most effective way to quickly harness our minds so we can release stress and tension.
- Take and inhale and easy exhale
- Soften your belly
- Slowly inhale through your nose to a count of 4
- Hold for a count of 4
- Slowly exhale through your mouth to a count of 4
If you have the time, do four repetitions. If not, one time will definitely make an impact.
Let me know in the comments below how this worked for you. Did it help you get centered? If not, what do you think happened?
Traffic is a fact of life in metropolitan areas, yet many times when we are caught in traffic we get angry and frustrated.
Before we realize it, our breath is shallow and our neck and shoulders are tight.
I was leaving a parking lot and planned to make a right hand turn. Much to my dismay, a car pulled out of a lot across the street and rudely blocked my entire lane, causing a line of cars behind me. My reaction was anger and frustration at how inconsiderate the driver was.
I noticed my reaction and after employing the technique below I felt calm and centered once again.
- Take a moment to see if you are holding your breath.
- Notice if you are tensing your neck and shoulders.
- Feel your feet on the ground and if you are sitting, feel your contact to the seat beneath you.
- Relax your belly and without straining take three slow, easy inhalations and exhalations, each time softening your neck and shoulders.
- Now, review the situation as if you were giving a report, without commentary and see how you can make a choice to see the event differently.
Give this a try next time you have a situation where you are frustrated driving (you will have many opportunities!) and let me know in the comments below what happened. If it did not help, what you think got in the way?