Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sometimes It's Good to Tune Out

With so many rapidly changing headlines, images, and soundbites and so many instantaneous ways to access them- from Facebook, to Twitter, to Tumbler- you name it!- it can feel impossibly hard to stay caught up! To say nothing of the dishes, pet hair, and/or bills that may or may not be piling up...

And, it's good to be able to follow the news! We're here to change things for the better and communicate with each other. But, with more outlets than ever before to stay abreast of the latest and greatest, what are we to do when part of us feels compelled to read as many articles as possible, regardless of the tension in our bodies? Well, remembering to breathe is always a good start!

What comes next is whatever works for you. To stay sane, we must make a habit of continually checking in with our bodies and minds to maintain, restore, or find balance in our busy lives. It used to be as easy as locking the door and unplugging the telephone. Nowadays, it can feel a little harder to take a moment for ourselves.

Or, is it? How can we make this global culture we are citizens of work for us instead of feeling overwhelming? We can pick and choose what and when we pay attention to the news. When we're tense and nervous, triggered and tired, it may be a good time for a comedy- or unplugging from the media! When we're feeling unmotivated, maybe tuning into a free online guided meditation would be useful.

With the world at our fingertips, it is perhaps more important than ever to be thoughtful about what we give our attention. The beauty of being human is that we are capable of caring deeply- but our very nature also requires that we take a breather every now and again to maintain optimal health. I'm suggesting it's beneficial to let the news pass us by sometimes! It will still be there when we return.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Soothing Back to School Jitters

You know that nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach before the first day of school? Does that anxiety ever go away? Not according to the students, teachers, and parents I know. What about the anxious dreams about showing up unprepared- and being trapped to endure our out-of-control fate? There's something about back-to-school that's exciting, nerve-racking, and new- every time.

What if we approached each day with the same nervousness? Whew! It'd be nerve-racking. Thankfully, there seems to be a time limit on how long we can experience full-fledged anxiety. When we feel highly overwhelmed and helpless, we go into fight, flight, or freeze mode. Our survival kicks in. Energy is diverted from our "unnecessary" systems, such as digestion, as we prepare to move quickly!

The same is true when we relax. Our body's feedback loop moves both ways. Try this. Take a deep intentional breath in, breathing in for three to five counts, fully expanding your chest and belly, pausing naturally at the top of the in-breath, and exhaling, slowly and fully. Feel your body and the world of sensation occurring there in this very moment. Gently and easily scan your body from head to toe.

Simply shifting gears by taking deep breathes and turning our attention towards our bodies, where we can begin to notice and release any tension stored there, sends a message to our mind that all is well. We're safe, now. Everything's fine and our energy is free to flow naturally. We don't know what the next moment will bring but our lives unfold moment by moment so feeling safe now is everything.

Trying to relax is a hard thing to do! We can't force it but we can relax naturally when we practice taking deep breaths and giving compassionate attention to ourselves- releasing our innate healing abilities. So, go ahead, take a deep breath- whether or not you've got your homework done! It can only free up energy, making you better able to respond to whatever comes up next...

Happy back to school! May we make all A's in the school of life!