One thing I'm really working on is trying to quiet my mind. I find that I'm often thinking, many thoughts, ALL THE TIME. Most irritating is when I'm going to bed and when all I want to do is go to sleep, I think about everything I did that day and everything I need to do tomorrow...can anyone relate? Implementing the no technology before bed has helped a lot! Once I start reading a book I find I can easily also find my way to sleep. Another thing that's helped a lot is going to yoga and practicing the art of savasana, which is a very difficult art but since going 3-4 times per week for the last few weeks, I've noticed I can more efficiently notice my fleeing thoughts and bring them back to focus only on my breath. Doing this at the beginning of the class is still a lot harder than at the end when I'm too exhausted to think, but thats part of the yoga challenge and keeps me going back (that and the fact that many of the people a decade older than me can hold more challenging poses and I feel this need to catch up....yes I know, not the point of the yoga practice, but old habits die hard)
This week, in keeping with quieting the mind, I challenge you to incorporate some form of meditation in your day:
Set the alarm 5 mins earlier in the morning and try for 5 mins per day of meditation or just 5 minutes of lying there and focus on breathing. When your mind drifts, work on recognizing that its drifting and work towards bringing it back to focus on your breath. You may also try to repeat a mantra that is meaningful to you as a way to keep your mind from thinking about what you have to do the rest of the day.
Your goal for the week is just 5 mins per day. I’m suggesting first thing in the morning, as a way to set a good intention for the day. If you’d like to progress this during the week, you can try to add a minute every day. I will likely stick to 5 minutes as I find that challenging enough!
Mindful Move of the Week:
This can be incorporated into your breath practice in the morning or any other time during the day. Sit up nice a tall, ribs sitting over the pelvis and work on breathing a “360 degree” breath. What I mean by this is, try to expand your rib cage all the way around on your inhale, like opening an umbrella and then exhale in the same way, like you are closing the umbrella.
Keep in mind, as well, to allow the belly to expand with your inhale (do not suck it in!) and let it gently draw in with your exhale. This allows the abdomen to be a part of the breath cycle and reduces unnecessary intra-abdominal pressure which can lead to all sorts of injuries, from pelvic floor dysfunction and pain, hip, knee and shoulder dysfunction and pain.
If you are doing this during the day - try for 5-10 breaths every couple of hours
If you want to add this to your morning meditation/breath practice, you can still lie down and do it, think about gently expanding your rib cage into the mat or bed (along with out to the side) but without actually moving your body or trying to physically press the ribs down.
Not only is breath important for mobilizing the thoracic spine, rib cage and surrounding muscles, this style of breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing can allow us to calm the nervous system, helping us relax both mind and body.
Ever notice how when you are stressed your breath is shallow and rapid? Or perhaps you hold your breath when doing something that is challenging either for the mind (focusing on a task on your computer you need done asap) or body (picking something up). Pay attention to this throughout the day and come back to these slow, diaphragmatic breaths and see how that changes tension around your neck and shoulders, back or even how it stops all the wild thoughts going through your head.