From The Ground Up

When I sat down to write about what I do to stay centered in my life, I thought, yes, easy, done, I can do that, quick as a flash. Then almost immediately the world turned, our child didn’t get into the schools we had planned on so we immediately had to start to look for a new place to live, (hello stress), I had my busiest time of the year coming up, I lead a training program for 2 months straight and work through without a day off, and a dear friend called me in deep distress saying he needed an intervention for a hidden drug problem. Oh! Universe, what a merry prankster you are!

I raced around trying to give everyone and everything my attention until my head felt it was about to explode, my gut was in knots and I felt like I was hit with a baseball bat. I stopped, and I caught myself….and noticed, I was not giving myself any attention and, therefore, was being pretty ineffective in helping myself or anyone else at that moment.

I have been studying Yoga for over 2 decades now, and what Yoga is, is the study of the science of the mind. Yes, it’s become very popular in it’s physical form and we all love what the asanas (postures) does for our bodies, but what does it do for the mind? Well, it might do nothing if you don’t pay attention to what is happening. So I turned inward and listened to what my inner roommate was saying to me. She was telling me that if I didn’t get everything I wanted and give everyone else what they needed, then I had failed. And failure for the mind feels like death. I had to get back to my Self quick.

This is where the Yoga practice comes in, the path of Yoga, when we are breathing and moving in unison with ourselves and when we have the mind centered on what we are actually doing, not on what we think we should be doing, then we have entered the realm of mindfulness. Mindfulness is when we are in our ‘full’ mind, or our mind is fully in us and not separated out into a million different devastating scenarios (my daughter is going to join a gang, get a tattoo and be a dropout if she doesn’t get into the right school!) Another way of putting this, is that we are developing the witness quality. We can see ourselves spin out, we may not always be able to stop it right away, but the more and more we can see that we’re walking down that road again, with the same potholes in them, then we can start to climb out of them quicker or maybe even walk around them. So here are some of my tips for getting back into your right mind, they all do the same thing, they put the pause button on the obsessive thinking and clear out some space. They are tried and tested by me, and I’m happy to say that at this moment me and my mind are friends again, I have taken the house keys off of my neurotic inner roommate and have asked her to move out, or at least pay rent.

  1. Take a Yoga class, or pull out a Yoga DVD or learn a couple of poses and do them! Yoga has been proven to work on the nervous system, it will reset the autonomic nervous system and get us out of the fight and flight syndrome. If you don’t have time for some Yoga, here’s some other quicker tips;
  2. Put your head below your heart. Either get into a down dog, a headstand if you practice it or simply bend over with your knees bent and let your head and spine hang. Not only will this change your perspective instantly and stop the mind from chattering but inversions are mood enhancers and brain boosters
  3. Try alternate side of the nostril breathing, it balances the right and left side of the brain, even two minutes of this breathing exercise will calm you.
  4. Block of one nostril by pressing gently on the side of the nostril and breath in slowly through the opposite, at the top of the breath pause for a moment and pinch both nostrils, release the nostril you first pinched and breath out, breath in through that nostril and repeat the whole process again at least 10 times.
  5. Take your shoes off and plant your feet on the ground, keep your attention for as long as you can to the feeling of the earth beneath your feet, even better find a piece of grace and walk slowly paying as much attention to how the grass feels on your feet. Now you’re grounded!
  6. Go outside. If you have time go, for a walk. If I only have a moment I will sit under my favorite tree and stare at it, and see how many things I can notice about the tree. This reminds me of the tangible world and get’s me out of my head which is making up a world that isn’t real and is creating stress
  7. Make a gratitude list, either write one or just start to list what you’re thankful for in your head. Even more powerful is to step into nature and say it out loud. What is going right? What do you have that’s working? For me, I have so much to be grateful for and when I begin to list all my blessings the stuff I’m worrying about begins to feel pretty small.

We don’t have that much time on this planet together so let’s enjoy the ride! May your spirit soar. Namaste. Claire