And Other Ways to Stay Healthy and Sane During Times of Crisis
"That which is used - develops. That which is not used wastes away."
Being at home for weeks on end, as we're all discovering first hand, may not be much fun. Conversation may be drying up, and unless you have a dog or a small child, you might not be getting out for exercise on a regular basis. There are a number of activities we can practise to stay physically healthy and mentally sane. Below are some suggestions and practices that I hope you'll find helpful.
1. Motion is lotion. Your body's tissues need to move, to be hydrated regularly, to slide against each other to create ease and flexibility. If you don't move, you can seize up like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. Motion is the oil you need to get unstuck. Your joints need to move (each vertebra on the spine too) to stay lubricated with synovial fluid, and healthy. Too much sitting has been linked to many ailments, including excessive weight, hip and back pain, shoulder and neck pain, anxiety, depression, some types of cancer, diabetes and varicose veins.
Here's a simple Half Sun Salutation to help you get moving. A set of yoga blocks, hard books or a sturdy chair is helpful if your hands don't touch the floor.
2. Gentle breath practices can help the mind to stay calm and focused. When you breathe in, your nervous system moves into "fight or flight" . When you breathe out, your nervous system moves into "rest, digest and heal." Shallow rapid breathing can increase a sense of anxiety and disconnectedness. So a simple practice of lengthening your exhale can begin to calm the mind.
Breath Practice: Lengthening the Exhale to Calm the Mind
3. A quiet mindfulness practice can help you to work with difficult emotions. The RAIN acronym can be a helpful way of thinking about this.
R = Recognize the feelings - So often they fly under the radar of our conscious awareness, or we try to push them away because they feel uncomfortable, or sometimes just awful.
A = Allow and acknowledge your feelings- As in "hi, old Sadness, I see you." Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn has a lovely breathing mindfulness practice: "Breathing in, I hold my fear with tenderness, Breathing out, I care for my dear little fear."
I = Investigate with kindness - What does this feeling feel like in my body? What sensations come up with it? Do I try to push it away? Are there memories associated with these sensations? Often we judge our feelings; I shouldn't be sad, I shouldn't feel like this, I have so much, why can't I be normal, happy, etc etc etc.
N = Non-Identificaton - Recognize that you are not your feelings. You are not your body, nor your mind, nor your thoughts. Beyond these lies a deeper Awareness.
Feelings just are. They arise spontaneously, and if they invoke pleasant thoughts and associations we like them; if they invoke unpleasant ones we tend to shy away.
Recognizing, acknowledging and sitting with feelings means to sit with what is real, what is happening in this moment. And when we do that, they start to shift, because change is inevitable.
If you want to start a conversation about how a regular yoga or meditation practice can help your well-being, see here to set up a complimentary 15-minute phone conversation with me.
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If you have any comments or simply want to connect, leave a comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you, and be well,
Donna offers a holistic perspective on the relationship and healing of physical and emotional pain.