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Posts Tagged ‘relaxation’

I’ve had so many thoughts throughout the day that I wanted to remember to post… and now not a one of them will come to me.  Instead, I’ll share what happened to me just a couple of hours ago.

Last night, I got to enjoy a bit of massage that touched on knots and pressure points I’d never encountered before. It helped release that tension, but also left my muscles a bit unsteady (in part because I didn’t think to do an epsom salt soak afterward). So I was pretty careful today, doing my usual stretching routine very carefully, skipping anything extra, and not taking the stairs.

Then, while chasing and being chased by our new puppy, I partially wrenched a leg and an ankle. Then, my back started to tense up as I tried to compensate, and now I’m going to go take that soak. Nothing’s really damaged, but everything is sore.

This just sort of feels like a metaphor to me. When we work through things and find ourselves “clearing out” and “letting go”, we should be gentle with ourselves, even in our play. It can surprise us how we can suddenly find something twisted up in a way we hadn’t expected, because we hadn’t been in that exact condition before.

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It occurred to me today that I’m doing it again. I’ve hit a very busy and taxing time at work and at home, which means more stress and less energy. These are exactly the times I need to make sure to pull back for a bit at key points during the day, to stretch and relax and regroup.

Do you know what I tend to forget to make time for when I’m busy trying to keep up with a very taxing and stressful time…?

I’ve resolved to get back to my schedule starting tomorrow. It’s the only way I’ll be able to maintain the flexibility I need to get through this current time-tunnel and make it out fantastic on the other side.

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I’ve just a few moments, so I wanted to drop a quick self-reminder about the importance of keeping perspective on stressful situations:

When not currently in a stressful situation, don’t carry the stress around with you. There’s a time and place for everything important. Remember the importance of the time and place you are presently in.

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I finally reached a point at work where I could relax a little, so naturally the flu that’d been dogging me finally caught me. My body has a tendency to “tuck away” illness for as long as it can, then processes it as soon as it feels it has a window to do so.

Now, I have been trying to eat healthy foods, drink supportive tea, do yoga (most days) or other supportive activities, so my body could perhaps stave off the illness without having to “get sick”. But it seems what it really needed was about 20 to 24 hours of really working through what I’d spent a week or more not-fully-processing. Perhaps I did stave off most of it, and therefore it was easier than it would have been. In fact, it did pass through me pretty quickly, and I’m thinking the little things I did over time and when it caught up with me helped that.

Now, I’m naturally thinking of how similar this is to non-physical issues in life. There’s so much that builds up, and we can only take care of so much in any one day. But I’m thinking, there’s got to be better ways in my own life to help care for bits and pieces of them over time. You know, tiny little things that can help keep things moving, rather than letting the stuckness build up until it comes to a breaking point.

I’ve had this thought off and on for some time, and have done a better job than in the past. I think I’m ready for the next stage of this now, and will start looking for moments in each day to take a step back, breathe, and see which little nooks and crannies can be cleared of stagnation and flow a little better.

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There were many tests to my patience and fortitude today, and I’m not entirely sure I passed all of them. I lived them, though, and I was aware of my limits even as they were being pushed… and pushed past.

So I was sure to take a moment or two a few times throughout the day to re-center, and recharge. Even if I didn’t do completely stellar today, I did a lot better than I would have in times past. I also took this opportunity to practice a little better for next time.

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Today, my moment of zen was while I was doing yoga, even though I really didn’t feel like it. I’ve been mostly good so far about stopping to take a break during the day, even though I’ve been busy. Today I was super busy, and haven’t been feeling very well.

I realized that these are exactly the times I need to pause, take a deep breath, and stretch out.

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One reason it’s so easy to get caught up in our thoughts is that we aren’t often grounded in our own skin. We tend to view our bodies as too mechanical, too “outward” or “foreign” versus “who we really are” in our minds.

That seems a bit backwards though, as I’m thinking about it now. So much of our brains’ resources are devoted to observing input from our bodies and managing all its many processes, it seems a little silly to view the body as separate from the mind. If we stop to focus our attention, we can even become closely aware of a portion of our bodies, filling our consciousness with the sensations of, say, our left foot, or our right ear. The mind as we experience it is closely tied to the brain, yes, which inherently ties us closely to the rest of our physical form, as well. The brain may be the CPU in the computer analogy, and this means it’s closely tied in with all the rest of the circuitry and processes.

So today, my Happy Zen Year practice involved taking a few moments to become more fully aware of being conscious within my body, rather than just my mind. I paused to observe the sensations of my skin, and within my lungs as I took measured, deep breaths. Because I’m feeling resistance to focusing within my body as I type, I’m going to stop and type out a relaxation exercise that helps ground and balance our minds within our body.

Lay down or otherwise be in a relaxed position, where your body is supported by the floor, chair, or whatever you’re on. Really settle down into that surface, trusting it to support your body. That is, feel within your mind and body the knowledge that if you let up on the tension and relaxed onto the surface, your body won’t crumble apart and fall down into nothingness. You’re secure there, stop holding yourself up and let the surface hold your weight.

Now, start at your toes, or even just one toe if you want to start SUPER focused. Take a deep breath, putting all your conscious attention into the sensations of that one toe. Feel how it feels, loving every sensation, as a part of your experience in being human at this moment. Take another breath, imagining the blood flowing down into that toe, filling it up with oxygen and nutrients, and clearing it out of waste and tension. If you want to use this as a relaxation exercise, breathe in quite deeply and tense up the toe, holding your breath and tension a few moments, before breathing it out and fully relaxing.  Take one more breath (or as many as you like) to focus into that toe, letting it relax into this purity of oxygenated, nutrient blood, letting go of all that it doesn’t need anymore.

As you take in your next breath, move your focused attention into your whole foot (or your next toe, you can go as slowly as you like).  Repeat the process with that foot, then your other foot, then your legs, then your hips, your back, your fingers/hands, your arms, your shoulders, your neck, your face, and your head. Then, put your focus to your whole body as a living organism, repeating this meditative breathing cycle once more. With your last breath in the meditation, breathe it out slowly, allowing the rest of the tension and all you no longer need to flow down into the surface beneath you, where it drizzles down in rivulets to the earth, where it nourishes new growth. (Don’t worry about your downstairs neighbors, it goes right into the earth where it belongs.)

Finally, take another breath inward, filling up your veins with oxygen and nutrients, energizing your body for the new growth you are ready for. Take as many breaths as you feel you’d like, until you are fully recharged. Then, you’re ready to get back to it, living life from within your skin.

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