Cultivating Calm Amidst Chaos

 

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“I’m too busy”, “I don’t have the time”, “I’ve got to get this done”, “I wish I could just slow down and relax, but I can’t”, “I don’t know whether I’m coming or going”, “I’m up to my eyeballs in work/study/family commitments”.

 

These are all things I hear uttered frequently, from people I know well, from snippets of conversation snatched from strangers, and from my own lips more often than I’d like. It’s a shame that these words are more common in our daily dialogues than, for example, “I feel wonderfully calm,” or “I’m content with what I’m doing  right now,” or “I’m happy I took the time to relax, I feel so much better”. However, the point of this post is to draw our attention to common habits which may have a negative impact on our sense of wellbeing, and turn that attention into something positive.

A basic principle of mindfulness meditation is: Pay Attention. By pausing and resting our attention on what is happening right now, we can start to cultivate a stronger sense of how we think and act throughout the day, how thoughts and actions impact our behaviour, and make small but potent changes where needed. In a nutshell, we can cultivate a little bit of our very own calm amidst the constant buzz of life.

 

Here is a simple practice for you to try absolutely anywhere…

– at home, at work, in a shop, at a bus stop, in your car (perhaps not while driving!). It could take you 5 minutes, 15 minutes or 50 minutes. It’s up to  you. No excuses – do it right now, after you’re read the following suggestions:

 

Identify how you feel physically. 

Adopt a comfortable position wherever you are – sitting, standing or lying down. Closing your eyes helps to limit visual distractions. Become aware of your posture and how you are holding yourself. Identify how you feel physically. Use these questions as prompts:

  • What parts of your body are in contact with the ground/chair/bed?
  • Where do you feel you are, physically, in relation to the space around you?
  • Do you feel open or closed in?
  • Do you feel light or heavy?
  • Do you feel connected or disconnected?
  • Is there any tension anywhere in your body? Where?
  • Do you feel physically good or not.

 

Don’t try to analyse the answers to these questions, just state the answers simply in your mind until you feel more physically aware of you body, then move on to the next step.

 

  Become aware of your emotional state.

  • Do you feel energised? Tired? Wired? Settled? Jittery? Anxious? Excited? Indifferent? Content? Wanting? Angry? Envious? Admiration? Love? Hopeful? Unsure?
  • Bring to mind the names of emotions that you can identify with in this moment.

 

Again, don’t get too wrapped up in your emotions; observe them as if you were an outsider, noting down any feelings you are experiencing at this moment, just as a record.

 

Breathe.

This is all you need to do now. Give your full attention to the process of breathing in and breathing out. Inhale, exhale, repeat. Feel the air travel in through your nose, down your windpipe, to the base of your belly and back again.

If you find your mind wandering off in all directions (as it inevitably does), don’t worry about it. As the old saying goes, Mind is like Monkey. It’s nature is to jump all over the place. It needs constant training and a single focus to be tamed. This will take time.

For now, bring it back to the task at hand – the breath – by counting. You can even form the breath and the counting into a silent statement if it helps: “I’m breathing in 1, I’m breathing out 1, I’m breathing in 2, I’m breathing out 2…” Counting up, there is no limit. Continue until a sense of calm starts to develop and grow from within you.

 

 

By incorporating this practice into your day, you are giving yourself the time you need to reconnect with who you are and what is going on at any given moment. By cultivating an awareness of the present moment, you are creating space within your life for the only thing we really have: now.

 

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Further reading:

  • ECKHART TOLLE, The Power of Now
  • JON KABAT-ZINN, Wherever You Go, There You Are
  • ELAIN FOREMAN & CLAIRE POLLARD, Introducing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): A Practical Guide

 

Start as you mean to go on…

Well, we’ve taken down the decorations and emptied out our fridges of indulgent leftovers from the festive season. Now is a good time to reboot our bodies and turn our thoughts to how we can maintain good health over the winter. The D word is often used (and sometimes abused) at this time of year. The key to detoxing successfully, and safely, is: gently does it. I’m not an advocate of strict fasting and intense cleansing at any time of year, but especially not in these chilly climates. Maybe in the warm and sunny comfort of Southern hemisphere countries, but here in the North, it’s just not advisable. We need nurturing, comforting, and gentle cleansing to keep us in tip top shape until Spring, when again, we can reassess our nutritional and wellbeing needs.

 

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Here are 5 simple tips to help you get your mornings off to a clean start, boosting your energy levels for each day ahead:

 

Dry body brushing

Before you jump in the shower, take a minute (that’s all it takes!) and a good quality natural bristle body brush, and brush dry skin from the feet, up the legs, torso and back towards the heart, and from the hands, up the arms, towards the heart. Make a figure of eight across the chest, and finish with some downward chest strokes towards the heart. This process boosts the lymphatic system which eliminates toxins from the body, removes dead skin cells and leaves you feeling awake and energised. Aim to do it every morning, and it’ll soon become part of your wake-up routine.

 

Love Lemons 

Make your first drink of the day a cup of hot water with a generous squeeze of lemon juice (about half a small lemon). Although acidic in its food form, lemon is actually incredibly alkalising once digested. Adding more alkaline foods into your diet – such as green leafy vegetables, root vegetables, citrus fruits, cayenne pepper, ginger and garlic – all help to keep the body in balance. We generally eat too many acid-forming foods, like processed sugars, artificial sweeteners, refined grains and mass produced meat and dairy, so cutting down on these and upping the alkaline foods will ease the body back into a state of balance.

 

Juice it

For breakfast, make a fresh juice or smoothie packed with antioxidant rich fruit and veg – try the Yogiz Get Your Green On recipe – an easy way to push out toxins and refuel with nutrients at the same time. As well as a cleansing juice, make sure you get enough protein in your breakfast. Adding a tablespoon of nut butter, half a ripe avocado and a good sprinkling of flax seeds to your smoothie will make it more of a meal. Alternatively, whip up some eggs and top with avocado, wilted spinach and/or salmon for a protein-packed, slow-release energy breakfast that will keep you satiated until lunch. Starting the day in a healthy way makes you more motivated to continue making positive health choices throughout the day.

 

 Get moving

Take an early morning walk; stretch out; breathe in; jump up and down; dance around; work up a sweat and feel the blood pumping. Just like dry body brushing, physical activity kick starts the lymphatic system into moving out any stagnant toxins, not to mention the cardiovascular, muscular and psychological benefits it brings.

 

Breathe

It sounds obvious, but sometimes we are in so much of a rush to get up and get on with our ‘to do’ lists that breathing gets pushed way down the priority list. By breathing, I mean actually taking notice of your breath and connecting with it.

Try rolling out of bed into a comfortable sitting position (I like sitting on a cushion on my yoga mat in a softly lit room), and just sit for 5 minutes, making your inhales and exhales longer and deeper until the flow of breath is the only thing you’re concerned with. You could say it’s a form of meditation. Starting the day by being present, and checking in with where you are during the day, will help you to stay calm and grounded.

 

 

Incorporating these 5 things into your daily routine is a sure fire approach to feeling lighter, brighter and more energised, ready for anything the day throws at you. Try it for a week and see how different you feel. We’d love to hear your feedback – leave a comment below or contact Yogiz here.

 

Keep your eyes open for more recipes and healthy tips coming soon on Yogiz.