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Walking Lessons in 5 Steps

Walking is something we do to get from one place to the other without much thought.  For most of us we walk with ease, at the speed we choose. 

Have you ever been walking and the next moment you are stumbling?  There is no need to pay attention to the mechanics of walking because we walk automatically.   When you trip it is because your mind is not where your feet are planted.

When you learn something new, you pay careful attention to detail and do it mindfully.

Take a few minutes and experience walking as if you were first learning to do it.  Practice paying attention to each and every step.

Try this slow motion walking:

 Try to notice each and every movement with no particular destination. You can keep your hands by your sides, or behind your back. You can do this indoors or outside.  Keep your focus straight ahead.

 There are 5 steps:

  1. Lifting
  2. Moving Forward
  3. Placing Heel first
  4. Shifting you weight
  5. Push off with your toes

 

Keep totally focused  on this slow motion walking and see what you notice.

Was it difficult?  Easy?  What did you learn from this experience?  Let me know in the comments below.  You are welcome to ask any questions.

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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Improve Sleep: Technique #2- Breathing in 6 Steps

It is not only the quantity of sleep, but the quality of sleep that is important.  Even if you have interrupted sleep, you can have a more restful night, and generate more stamina throughout your day. 

A focused breathing practice will help. The benefits of focused breathing are:

  • Quiets your mind, bringing you back to the moment
  • Brings more oxygen into your body, increasing stamina during the day
  • Lowers your heart rate and calms your nervous system

Try this:

1.  Lie on your back in bed, with a pillow under your knees and begin breathing through your nose.

2.  Put your attention on your breath without judging or influencing it in any way. 

3.  Notice the entire breath cycle of inhalation and exhalation. 

4.  Notice where your breath is most evident to you:      

  • Is it the movement of air into your nostrils?
  • Is it the movement of air in your nose or throat?
  • Is it the rise and fall of your belly and chest?
  • Is it the entire cycle of your breath?

5.   Wherever it is, keep your attention there, staying aware of your breath.  There is not right way to notice, simply be aware.

6.  As you follow your breath you may notice your attention wandering to your thoughts.  If it wanders simply and kindly bring it back to the breath. 

Use this technique anytime you wake up in the night, or to get to sleep.

Let me know in the comments below how this worked for you.  If it did not work, what do you think happened?

 

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Improve Sleep: Technique #1- Bed Twist in 6 Steps

I taught a sleep workshop the other day and the recurring theme was the inability to shut off thoughts.  It seems to be an epidemic stemming from our busy, stressed out lives.

Many use medications to help with this problem, and even if they help they produce side effects.

It is a vicious cycle- less sleep at night, less energy during the day.

The twist below has many benefits:

  • Calms the nervous system.
  • Massages  your internal organs, increasing the blood and oxygen supply
  • Lengthens and twists the spine.

 

Try this:

  1. Turn off the television and computer and try some bed yoga.  It is a simple twist and the benefits are:
  2. Lie on your back with your head level, and bring your knees to your chest.
  3. Hold your knees and roll over to the right side, keeping your knees bent at a right angle and let them rest on the bed.
  4. Slide your left hand to your waist and allow your elbow to rest back, creating a gentle twist to your spine. You can lengthen your arm out beside you, if that is comfortable.  If your knees come apart, put a pillow between them.
  5. Your head will turn toward the right side.
  6. Stay here for 2-4 minutes noticing your breath, and then do other side.

              *If this in any way hurts, come out of pose.

 

Let me know in the comments below how this works for you.  Were you more relaxed going to sleep?  Was your mind quieter?  If it did not help, what do you think happened? 

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Remember Where You Put Things in 5 Easy Steps

Have you ever forgotten where you parked your car?  Why do you think that happened?   

I was watching a show on memory and the host said that anyone’s memory can improve.  When they showed one technique, I realized that a lot of what they were talking about was paying close attention.  When you are in the moment, only then can you pay close attention to what is happening around you.

Focus on where you are in the moment.

Think about it.  When you are parking the car, you are already thinking about what you need to do next and you are on your way, before even looking at markers that will tell you where your car is.

Try this the next time you park your car:

  1. Get out of the car
  2. Take a breath
  3. Look around and find something that will remind you where you are parked and bring your focus to that reminder for a few seconds.  (Please do not use another car!)
  4. Walk toward you destination and notice where you are and what you are passing as you do this.
  5. If you are taking an elevator from a parking deck, notice which side the elevators are on, so you will know where to go when you are leaving.

You can use this technique throughout your day.  The key is to be present with what you are doing at that moment.  It takes time to make this shift, so start with easy things, like the car or your coffee cup.

Let me know in the comments below if this worked for you.  If it didn’t, what do you think happened?

 



 

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5 Steps to Avoid Low Back Pain

How do you protect your low back from pain and discomfort?  Even if you have never had back problems, the back is the most susceptible and vulnerable part of your body to strain and pain.

There are two important areas in your body that you need to be aware of:

Sacrum: The heavy, flat triangular shaped bone at the base of your spine

Sitting Bones: As part of your pelvis, these are the bones you feel when you sit. If you feel the bottom of your butt, they are just under your skin.

Learning how to bend is important.  To help you understand, think of your body as having angles and your joints as hinges.

Here are 5 simple steps:

  1. Bend your knees
  2. Hinge at your hips
  3. Lengthen your sitting bones out behind you
  4. Keep your low back to be flat, and that includes your sacrum.
  5. If you are lifting something heavy, draw in your abdominals (they are an inch below your navel) toward your spine.

Give this technique a try.  You can practice in the mirror and see if when you bend this way, your low back stays flat.  Let me know how it feels and it you found this helpful in the comments below.  If you have questions, please contact me.

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6 Steps to Breath Awareness

To optimize the benefits of breath, you want your breathing to be deeper, slower, quieter and more regular.  This simple technique will help you notice how effective your breathing is.  Remember, to do this technique with no judgment. 

The first step to change is awareness. 

Technique:

1.       Sit comfortably with your spine erect, with your arms and legs uncrossed and your feet solidly on the floor.

2.       Close your eyes or have a softly gaze ahead.

3.       Bring your awareness to your breath without trying to influence it in any way, following it with your mind. 

4.       Notice the quality of your breath.

5.       Notice the depth, notice the pace, notice the rhythm.

6.       Become aware of the rise and fall of your chest and belly.


What did you notice about your breath?  Was it deep, or shallow?  Did your belly rise and fall, or was the breath in your upper body?  Let me know what you noticed in the comments below.  Please contact me with any questions.


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Un-Hook From Reaction with 5 Simple Tools

Un-Hook from Reaction with 5 Simple Tools

Relationships can be wonderful and rich, but they also often challenge us.

Those we care about the most can easily frustrate us.  Our significant other, our children or parents hook us and we react. 

Many times the feelings are justified, but the problem arises when we respond with inappropriate behavior.  Yelling, stomping and name calling is harmful to both you and those around you, and your frustrations can lead to these behaviors in a flash. It is like being blindsided by a car.  You did not see it coming until it is too late, but the damage is already done.

How can you step on the breaks instantly?

Here are some simple tools that can help:

1.          Take a breath

2.          Feel your feet on the ground

3.          Put a visual Stop Sign in your mind

4.          Walk away and talk later

5.          Bring to mind someone you care about (it might be the person you are reacting to)

What do all of these tools have in common?  They bring you back to the moment. 

Try one or all of these tools and see if it makes a difference.  If you react to others in emotionally harmful ways, and later realize that you should have used one of the above techniques, you are already on your way to change.  Please share what worked or did not work for you in the comments below.  Feel free to contact me with any questions.

 

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Waiting with Patience

standing in line

Stand with your feet parallel to one another, a few inches apart. Stand with your body upright and look straight ahead with a soft gaze.

Bring your awareness to the connection to your feet on the floor and notice how your weight is distributed.

Is there more in front of you feet, or in your heels? Is it even? See if you can even out your weight, even feeling the connection of sides of your feet to the floor.

Take an easy inhale, and an easy exhale. Keep your awareness on the connection of your feet to the earth as you continue with easy breathing.

This simple tool will calm your mind and body and bring you back to the moment. It is great to use when you are out and about during your day.

Try this next time you are waiting on line and let me know how it went in the comments below. Did it help avert growing frustration? Were you able to keep your attention the connection of your feet to the floor? If not, what do you think happened? If you have any questions, please ask.

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Sigh, Swing and De-Stress


 

Today’s technique relieves stress in nearly any situation and can be used at any time.

Sit in a comfortable position, somewhere that your spine can sit upright.

Take a moment and check in on how you are feeling.

You are going to sigh – a total of three times.  You want to start by inhaling and exhaling the first breath with an audible sound.  After the first sigh, momentarily stay with the pause at the end.

You are not holding your breath; you are simply noticing the space at the end of the sigh.

Think of a swing. After it goes up, there is a moment of stillness before it comes back down. That is your breath – and you observing it.

Do this a total of three times, each time staying with the pause a few moments longer, without straining.  Check in on your state and let me know what you noticed.

You can use this simple tool anytime you feel stressed.

After doing so, please report back and let me know how it went in the comments below. Did it help with your stress level in the moment? If not, why do you think that was? If you have any questions, please ask.

 

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Overwhelmed? This Will Help Keep it Simple

When you are overwhelmed and stressed, you are stuck in the problem and are unable to see a way out.  You procrastinate, quit or panic.  This halts any positive momentum, and it is discouraging.

What can you do to shift your mindset?

Action is the key:

The next time you are in overwhelm mode, pick one very simple task that has a beginning, middle and end, and give it your complete focus.

For example, pick a small drawer and clean it. Take one folder and file it.  Make one phone call.

When you finish, congratulate yourself and experience the sense of accomplishment.

Remember, keep it very simple, and the momentum will begin to build.

Try this out and let me know what task worked for you and how you felt.  Did you keep it simple?  If it did not work, what do you think happened?  If you have any questions, please share in the comments below.

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