These are unprecedented times and there is so much that can get us spiraling down the fear hole into the pit of despair. It is so easy to let ourselves go there, but please resist! There is so much beauty and so much to be grateful for right now, in this and every moment. Here are a few practices that you may find useful to shift from sympathetic dominance (fight/flight, freeze/flee) to parasympathetic dominance (rest/digest, connect/enjoy).
1) Diaphragmatic breathing – I am finding a lot of my patients have diaphragm dysfunction right now from holding their breath or not breathing fully. Your diaphragm is a muscle that needs to be worked just like any other muscle. Breathe so fully that on the inhale you feel an expansion all the way to your pelvic floor and exhale so fully you feel your organs moving towards your spine. This helps your lungs to work as the are meant to as well! I recommend an hourly check-in where you pick a time each hour and take 3 full breathes. This helps retrain your body to do this naturally.
2) Alternate Nostril Breathing – This is an amazing tool to quickly bring your nervous system into a parasympathetic state. Alternating the stimulation of the hemispheres of the brain has a hypnotic effect on the body kicking in a relaxation response. Start with 5 min a day, set a timer, close your eyes, and go for it.
3) Ajna (3rd eye) meditation – This chakra is all about our ability to see our future or our path, to know and trust our next step. Using the color purple, imagine the breath as a billowing purple cloud that comes in and out through the 3rd eye as you breathe. A wonderful way to obtain focus.
4) Roll your feet – Using a ball (golf, lacrosse, Rubz) roll your feet for 2-5 min each. Not only does this help break up adhesions in your feet for greater movement and proprioception, but the most yin point in the whole body (KI1) is on the bottom of your feet. This is a very relaxing practice.
5) Get out of our heads! – Find something other than our own thoughts to focus on. Open a window and listen to the birds, take a walk and smell the blooming flowers and feel the breeze on our face, listen to our children laugh, smile at our partner for no reason, turn on some music we love and dance, stretch our body for the sheer joy of doing so, savor the smell of a home cooked meal, light a candle and watch the flame, do or notice anything that brings us to this very moment and stops our monkey mind.
6) Gratitude – We have heard it a million times, but it really works! Find 3 things to be grateful for every single day.
7) Connect and help – Finding ways that we can be of service to others is a powerful tool to get us out of a funk. Who needs a meal? Who needs a phone call or a letter or a little surprise to show we care? Let’s all jump in where we can and brighten someone’s day. We will feel better too.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of tools to help us focus and see the bigger picture, but I hope that it is an inspiration for us to find what balance we can right now. To our self care, focus, attitude of gratitude, grace, and peace in turbulent times.