I’m busy, I’m tired…this is a typical response when you ask someone; “How are you?” Saying ‘I’m ok’, used to be the standard response, but now we have answers which not only drag the recipient’s body down but also the person asking the question!
Being busy and being tired leads only to one thing stress…more negativity that doesn’t need a place in the body. Then you lace it all with caffeine and well…the body is not being listened to when it’s giving you obvious signs to slow down. I mean, how big a sign does one need when the body is already tired? ‘Burn-out’ written in neon letters?
Although we are saturated with yoga classes how long does that calm feeling really last after the class has finished? Does it end when you get in your car and then experience traffic? The reality is that we need a toolbox of relaxation techniques to practice every day because being calm is a discipline which requires practice just like playing an instrument.
The trouble is we often find ourselves in stressful situations which includes commuter stress, work stress, the need to multi-task and juggle several plates in the air at the same time. Basically, not truly pausing when the body is giving clear signs that we should.
Unfortunately, it’s not like you can go into a sun salutation at the train station when you feel a bout of stress coming on. However, there are relaxation techniques you can do in public which can bring calmness to the body and, without anyone even knowing;
One Minute Breathing Exercise Because we’ve mastered the art of shallow breathing we have to put in a little effort to go a little deeper which helps to feel calmer. But before consciously slowing down the breath, start timing how many breaths you are taking in one minute (so inhaling and counting one breath on the exhale). Once you have your number then time your breath again for one minute but this time taking a deep inhale and counting one on a long exhale. This way you can at least half the breaths you take a minute and viola feel so much calmer. This exercise I teach often and people are always surprised what a difference it makes to their body when they breath deeper than their chest. Smiling Meditation You can lift stress out of your body by imagining yourself smiling or at least think of a happy thought for example; a person you love, your favourite music, a fond memory. You may find different memories will shift your mood at different times. In fact recalling past events can by played in your mind like a movie which is a nice way to let your mind wander through your archive of wonderful memories. Progressive Relaxation Technique (PRT) This requires isolated different muscles by tensing or tightening, one muscle group at a time followed by a relaxation phase with release of the tension. It can be practiced seated or standing and you begin with the feet one at a time, legs, buttocks, stomach etc. It’s also a useful tool to find out where you carry stress in your body.
If we can remember to do at least one of these techniques then that journey to work, waiting in a queue, stress at work…then we can (hopefully) cultivate a much calmer mind. Because let's face it, the mind certainly needs it.