In the hectic hustle and bustle of life, we feel stressed. The holidays often amplify this feeling, leaving us burnt out and disconnected from those around us and even ourselves. Stress is just something that we are forced to live with, but continuous stress can have a negative impact on your heath.
We take the time to care for our physical fitness and plan our nutrition. The same care needs to be taken for how we feel emotionally and what we think in order to direct the way we move throughout the day.
Thinking affects feelings, feelings affect physiology and vice versa. For example, if you think you are sad day after day, then you will begin to feel depressed and withdrawn. Your body language may express your emotions with rounded shoulders, as if you are protecting your heart or making yourself seem smaller. You may also experience physical pain or low energy. On the other hand, if you think you are happy and successful, life is good. You will walk with good posture and a long straight spine, your emotions may be lifted and you will display feelings of confidence and pride.
Including a daily meditation practice of deep relaxation with breath awareness helps us learn how to become more aware of what we are feeling emotionally, thus helps us understand what we need to do to keep ourselves happy, balanced and in good physical, mental and emotional health.
Enjoy the practice outlined below and remember it is not how long you sit in meditation but rather the consistency of taking the time to sit in stillness everyday. Your mind and body will thank you for five minutes or 30 minutes. Do what is manageable.
Find a comfortable position either sitting or lying down on a yoga mat. Make sure your back is comfortable and supported.
Scan your body from the crown of your head to your toes and notice where you hold tension in your body or are gripping. What pain do you feel? Is it physical, emotional or mental?
Slow down your breath and breathe into your nose, sending the air deep into the belly. Breathe out from the belly through the nose. Place your hands on your belly and feel the rise and fall of each breath you take. Start to visualize your breath moving into those spaces that feel stiff, tight or are painful. With every breath visualize healing energy moving into those areas, dissolving tension and pain.
Keep awareness in your breath and relaxing body, but take your attention to your heart center. Get acquainted with this space and observe what you feel – not what you think.
What sensations arise? Be open and curious to what you feel. Do not hold judgment but embrace a sense of “I am where I am and it is ok”.
It can be an uncomfortable feeling to sit with. If the emotion is too much for you, then cultivate the opposite emotion, known as Pratipaksha Bhavana. For example, if you experience great sadness and you are not ready to be with it, cultivate the opposite sensation, happiness, and breathe into that feeling.
Let the heart experience happiness, feel it throughout the entire body. Come into a memory, place, or maybe a person that brings you unconditional love and peace. Let this sense of love and peace move through your entire body. Spend a few minutes here in this space of quiet, feeling the essence of you, your true self within your heart. Finish by slowly bringing your awareness back into the space around you.
Awaken and enliven the body by moving gently, and if you are lying down come into a seated position. Come into chin mudra by resting your wrists on your knees with your thumb touching your index finger. Speak the words SO HUM three times, which translates to I AM. Open your eyes to a new day with the intention of letting light and love into your heart.