It's September and the world around us is swinging back into action from its summer lull. As this happens, we too are shifting gears – most of us from low(er) to high(er). You would be far from alone if your reaction to the suggestion that you add a mindfulness practice to your days right now is a resounding, “No way. That is crazy. I don't have time for that.” But I will tell you, quite insistently, that there is no better time for you to practice than when you don’t feel like you have the time to practice.
Why is being emotional seen as a weakness? When we experience our emotions freely – without judgment or attachment – they will flow fluidly through us without impacting our health. It’s the feelings that we don’t feel, the ones we repress or “stuff,” that can cause the most havoc. These unfelt feelings can actually make us sick. All of which is to invite you to allow yourself the freedom to be emotional. Your feelings are a part of how you respond to life. While you may not choose to act on every feeling you feel, give yourself the space to feel them. Letting your feelings flow through you leaves you free to receive and to respond to each moment as it comes. Go ahead. Feel all the feels. It's good for you!
As you move through your day, be on the lookout for moments of coming home – for example, when you come downstairs in the morning, when you come in from an errand, or when you sit down to dinner after a long day of work (even if you, like so many of us, have been working from home). Pause in these moments to savor or even create a deep sense of being welcomed. Really experience your comfort. Take a deep breath and feel a warm, welcoming hug from yourself. These quiet moments of coming home – to a place, but more importantly, to yourself – can fill you with love, happiness, peace, and the confidence to head back out into the big, wide world to live the life you’ve been given to live. Welcome home.
Regular rest is a fundamental part of success, health, and happiness. It helps us exist as human beings rather than "humans doing." Practicing silence, mindfulness, and breathing are three ways to rest that create deep healing, inspire bursts of creativity, and offer clarity.
If you, like me, are a recovering control freak, this one's for you. Here are three ways to practice letting go of your need to control. When we step back and redirect all that energy toward ourselves – controlling our desire to be in control instead of trying to control the world around us – we feel 1,000 times better.
If you, like my family, are experiencing a sneezy spring, the broader practice of yoga can help. Yoga and its sister-science, Ayurveda, offer many practices beyond the moving and breathing we do on a yoga mat. In fact, the postures we do on our yoga mats are only one of many components that make up a complete practice. There are practices that are recommended to be done before we unroll our mats. Neti (which is translates as nasal cleansing) is one these purificatory practices and is particularly helpful this time of year.
We have been shouldering a weight of worry and stress for more than a year now and it has taken a toll on each of us. As the world begins to re-open, we are faced with even more change. In addition to understanding why we are feeling anxious, we can also commit to practices for self-care to help us downshift from the long-term anxiety and stress of the pandemic.
Did you know that “Be not afraid.” is in the Bible 365 times? There are enough “Be not afraids” that we could read a different one every day of the year. That is how important this message is to anyone seeking a full, spiritually deepened life experience. Interestingly, while yoga philosophy doesn’t phrase it quite the same way, “Be not afraid” is a central message to yoga seekers on and off the mat.
Your chosen spiritual practice(s) are like a GPS for life. Whatever your practice, you have chosen a tool that helps you get where you’re going. But you do have to allow it to lead the way. When you stick to the “route” suggested by your practice, you will get where you’re going with fewer wrong turns and detours.