Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Do you find yourself unsettled often? Are you trying to find some kind of "ok" place within? Are you looking for peace of mind? If you can't find support from others, how do you support yourself? These are a few questions that came to mind as I thought how the world feels overwhelming at times and why I’ve been feeling the need for a physical based practice of some kind.
In the past I have practices and taught Yoga and Tai Chi and have missed being regularly active in those practices over the past few years. With so much abuzz in the world I feel a strong pull back to those physical and inner practices. I sense a longing to be more grounded, to be more in touch with my sensing physical nature, and to more frequently experience the power of being in my body. So I have determined to resurrect some old practices and learn some new ones to be more fully in my body and to access more skills for peace of mind.
I want to share some practices you can explore with the hope of encouraging you to locate a greater sense of serenity and empowerment inside:
The first practice is called Grounding. To do this is very simply but the results can be quite profound. When you feel upset or in need of a solid feeling of connection to yourself and the world try this exercise:
First stand up and feel you in your body. Feel the ground underneath you and feel your feet firm against the floor (in or without shoes doesn't matter). Then breathe in with a relaxed yet slightly deeper inhale than normal. Now on the exhale let your legs bend at the knees and allow your body to sink about 2-3 inches towards the floor. The feet remain flat on the floor as your do this. On the next inhale come back up so your legs are no longer bent at the knees but short of your knees being locked. Continue this inhale and exhale action with leg movements for 2- 5 minutes. As you complete this exercise walk slowly around, feel your legs underneath you and feel your deeper connection to the ground and to the reality of the moment.
The second practice is one I just learned yesterday from a book (Awakening The Mind by Anna Wise) I found at a used bookstore. I had gone there in search for some new practices that I could find helpful for bringing greater inner strength and peace to myself. This one is also simple and quite interesting when you notice the results. When our mind gets overactive, as it is most of the time, try this:
Find a comfortable place to sit and focus on your tongue. As you become aware of your tongue gently invite it to relax as if it is floating freely in your mouth. It may feel shorter, fatter or lighter as it relaxes. Do this relaxation for a minute or two. Let yourself only be focused on the sensations of your tongue relaxing. Now take a breath and try to have a thought. I noticed that having a thought without engaging my tongue was difficult. It seems we think with our tongue?
The third practice is finding your center, which I have explored through yoga, tai chi and other inner focused body practices. Our center is where we want it to be. We can be centered in heart, in our belly, in our navel area, and even in our head/third eye. The center point I most connect with is just below my navel. Try this practice with your center:
I breathe in and out as if I am breathing through my center. As I practice this my breath naturally deepens so that my center extends outward on my inhale and relaxes inward on my exhale. After I feel I have a strong energetic flow at my center I imagine the flow of a fire hydrant. I sense my center flowing energetically like the flow of water from an open hydrant. The flow is strong and powerful. I allow myself to feel strong and powerful. In the martial arts this place of center is the way to be engaged with the world in an empowered way.
Each of these practices will seem like a personal gift given to you for your well being if you give them a good try. Enjoy, deepen, empower and be peaceful.