Posts Tagged ‘relaxation’

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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A while back, I posted about using breathing meditation to channel light with your breath into your heart, using it as a philospher’s stone to turn oxygen into gold.  With this technique you can bring greater clarity, insights and healing to your mind, body, and soul. At least, that’s been my experience.

There’s a second level to this meditation for me, which may hold some meaning for you. First, it’s important I remember to breathe the golden light into and through my heart, circulating it throughout my whole self and into a bubble around me. Then, while within this golden egg, I breathe this more sacred air into my heart, where I keep it magnifying with each breath. When I feel my heart filling up with peace and joy, I imagine a hidden chamber in the upper-right corner of my heart, nearest my Heart Chakra.

The Secret Chamber of the Heart neither opens nor remains closed, for there is no door. Both expansive and contained, it receives the full glow of the golden light as soon as I turn my attention to it. And as I allow my attention to dwell within the Secret Chamber of the Heart, I feel myself within its swaddling expansiveness.

I feel tiny. I feel eternal. I feel empty. I feel full.

Most powerfully of all, I feel Love.

And it’s not that I feel loved, though that’s a part of it. It’s not so much that I feel loving, either, though there’s that too. More like, I feel a part of Love Itself, as though the very Force of Love expresses me, rather than me expressing it.

I don’t know if you’ll have quite the same experience, but there’s some pretty broad consistencies among those who have visited their attention within the Secret Chamber of their Heart. There’s a sense of detachment that can feel a bit unsettling, if you’re used to drowning in the immediacy of day-to-day life. There’s also a sense of immediacy, which can feel a little smothering if you’re used to desiccating in the withdrawal from the lives of those around you.

It’s hard to explain. When you feel a sense of peace about the idea, perhaps you can give it a shot, and let me know if you can find better words.

Meanwhile, here’s a penny for your thoughts, that perhaps can be tucked away into your own heart when the time is right.

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I am quite a fan of breathing meditation, particularly ones where you visualize white or golden light entering with your breath.  You then imagine that gold light flowing in through your lungs and to your heart, where it stays for a moment while you hold the breath.  (If you can’t or don’t want to hold your breath for a second or more, it can stay there while you exhale, and then glows more brightly as you add to it another breath.)  Then, as you exhale, the golden light flows to a part of you that needs attention or healing, or even just pumps outward from your heart, mingling with your bloodstream to nourish your whole self.

This is a little meditation that’s worth the practice, and can be done with half a mind while walking, doing dishes, driving, and so on.  The more you do it, the more you’ll find ways it works for you, and helps you better master being in your own skin.

There’s a great healing power in focusing on your breath.  As you bring in more oxygen, your body is nourished.  As you breathe deeply and rhythmically, your emotions are balanced.  As you focus on your breath and your heart, your mind is calmed and more receptive to the answers you need.  In this more-centered space, you’ll find insights if you practice patiently opening yourself to the golden flow of intentional breath.

This is one key to the heart of wisdom.

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I’ve been thinking about writing a whole lot more than I’ve actually found the time for.  You know how crazy things have been lately, with time seeming to speed up while the task list just keeps getting longer.  That’s why I wanted to sit down to let you know how very much you mean to me.  You’re a beautiful, strong person, and I want the very best for you, always.

I know things haven’t always been going the best for you lately, but hopefully things have been looking more up than down.  Yeah, I know there’s things you’d hoped to be doing better on, but I also know you’ve been doing your best, given where you’ve been at.  It may not always feel that way, since you know you can do so much better — I know I can, at any rate.  But the way to get to that better place isn’t to beat yourself up over what you’ve done wrong.  What it takes is remembering what you’ve done right, and work out how to do more of that.

We’re coming into the wrap-up phase of this year, and I know we can use this time to get our goals synched up a little better with our realities.  The trick will be to figure out where we’ve been spinning our wheels and letting ourselves get off track.  It’s not that we need to work harder, it’s that we need to let go of things that are taking our time and energy away from where we really need to focus.  Relax and recuperate, sure, but things that are just fidgeting or, worse, making us fret or fuss, those are what we need to learn to let go of.

Anyway, I’m rambling again.  I just want to make sure you know how very important you are, and how much you’re capable of.  I sincerely believe in you, and I’m here if you need an ear or a shoulder, or even just a cheerleader.  I don’t care if we’ve never even met, you mean a lot to me.  You’re a fellow human being and that makes you family, and I love you, dearly.

So take care, and do something nice for yourself today.  And if you get the chance to make someone smile, give it a shot, so you can share in a little more happiness in this world.  You definitely deserve it.

Much love,


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So today marks the first official day of my week-long vacation.  I’m staying in town, so it feels “just like another Saturday”, and I’m wondering whether I’m sufficiently enjoying the day, seeing as it is “First Day of Vacation”.

So I’m taking a moment to breathe.  I’m noticing that this is the first truly sunny day we’ve had in a while.  My son is in a handful-but-joyous mood.  I’m feeling fairly rested.  I just pulled a freshly baked loaf of bread out to cool.

Gosh, this is a wonderful day.

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Okay, so if you take a look at how long it’s been since my last post, today’s post carries extra irony.  (See the comments from that post…)

You see, I had planned to follow up the following day with an admission that the de-stressing techniques that I’d learned are great… when I remember to do them.  And I hadn’t been remembering to keep up with self-maintenance and such.  These past few months have been terrible for me to keep up a consistency with… well, almost anything, really!  So near the start of the month I started to assess where I’d been letting things slip and where I’d hoped to get re-engaged, and made some notes on some steps I could take to get things back on track.

And here I am.  Creeping into the last week of the month, with none-too-much of what I’d hoped for actually accomplished.  So what am I going to do about it?

I’m going to apply another lesson I learned in my Summer Chrysalis phase: Be patient with yourself.  Take a look at what derailed you, and make some honest assessments on how you can do better from this point forward.

After all, as a wise man recently said, “Best to keep it all in perspective, otherwise the stress of forgetting to destress just makes us more stressed.”

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The most important lesson of my most recent cocooning is the deep and powerful importance of getting enough sleep.  And I mean restful, truly sufficient sleep.

Unfortunately, I learned this lesson through not always getting it.

Now, the first step in getting enough sleep is the one I too-often skipped: making sure I was going to bed at a decent time each night, early enough that I would be assured about eight hours before I had to start waking up.  Okay, so there’s been times I’ve needed more than that, but I’ll be honest and admit that I wasn’t even giving myself eight consistently.  That was wrong.

Now the second step is actually being able to get to sleep.  This has been a lifelong problem for me, and it took me a minimum of an hour to get to sleep, usually up to two.  In fact, no matter what trick or tip I followed I just couldn’t get my mind to settle down and let me sleep.  That is, until I put together a certain meditation as an extra credit project for a class once.  Since I don’t think I’ve shared it before, here it is:

I get myself all ready for bed, tuck myself in, and close my eyes.  As I take a deep breath I count “Ten”, and imagine relaxation creeping up through my toes and through my feet.  As I exhale, the tension flows out, allowing the relaxation to creep further up to my knees.  I deeply breathe in “Nine”, and the relaxation creeps up my legs, and with the exhale it encompasses up to my waist.  Breathing in “Eight”, the relaxation comes up to my torso, and breathing out brings it to my shoulders.  Breathing in “Seven” encompasses my shoulders in relaxation, which spreads down through my arms and fingertips as I breathe out.  I then breathe in “Six”, and the relaxation moves up through my neck, filling and spilling out the top of my head as I breathe out.

Breathing in “Five”, I feel myself being carried through the energies of relaxation toward a soothing, starlit darkness, leading me toward somewhere special.  The inbreath of “Four” brings me into view of a space that I find very tranquil, and peaceful, and save.  With “Three” I am entering this space, feeling its welcoming embrace surround me.  Breathing in “Two”, I settle down into it, and with “One”, I am fully present within this sanctuary.

Breathing in and out this soothing air, I see glowing helpers coming toward me.  They could be angels or faeries or lockboxes or even shining spheres – whatever it is that I feel to be good caretakers of precious things.  One of them pauses before me, waiting to accept something from me.  I take the thought that’s foremost in my mind, and place it into their expert care.  I ask them to please be a good caretaker of this very important thought, and to work on it while I sleep.  They take it and move away to do their work, making room for the next one who takes my next thought, and so on, and so forth.  Sometimes I organize them one by one, and sometimes I just dump the tangle thought-mess into the box and let the caretakers sort them out.

What this does is re-assures all the many worries and concerns and hopes and fears that keep me awake… it reassures them that I recognize their importance.  I understand and appreciate that I can’t just shove them out of my head, and I make sure that they’re being taken good care of while I get much, much-needed sleep.  And if I find myself thinking other thoughts, I let a caretaker come up to receive it, then let it move on.

If I don’t fall asleep before I run out of thoughts, I take my empty mind and replay a song that I find soothing, over and over in my mind.  When I find my mind drifting I let the thought go and get back to the song.  When the lyrics start getting goofy and nonsense, I know I’m on the path to sleep.

When I awake in the morning, when I remember to, I ask the caretakers to please bring me back any thoughts or concerns that are ready for me to take up again, and that I’m ready to work with.  Any and all answers and resolutions are picked up with gratitude, and things that need to be worked on longer in my subconscious I let stay with the caretakers.  (And I do sometimes get really good answers, either immediately or during the day!)

I then breathe from one to five, drifting away from the space and back to the waking world.  I then breathe in “Six” to bring energetic wakefulness in through my toes, all the way up through to my head while breathing “One”.  Then I’m more alert, rested, and ready to face my day!

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