Imagine 2 simple exercises that could unleash the potential of this brand-new year by helping you tap into a profound sense of well-being.
Here they are:
STILLNESS: Wise folk have suggested that if we don’t have time for half an hour of stillness, then we need a full hour. This is probably true, but for many of us, shorter times will have to suffice. Do not underestimate the challenge of this ‘simple’ practice: Try to practice stillness for five minutes a day for one week. Start today. Get into a comfortable position: either standing or seated in a chair with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Take in a deep breath while lifting your shoulders, then let them drop gently on the exhale. Shake out your arms, move your head, and let out a sigh on an exhale.
Now you are ready to be still. Take five minutes to stand or sit without any movement. This is a good time to notice your breathing. Where does your breath go when you breathe in? Does your chest expand or do you notice your belly moving as well? Be aware of your thoughts. Are you thinking of the past or the future? How does your body feel? Are there areas of comfort, discomfort, heat, coolness, numbness, or tingling? How are you feeling emotionally? Do your best to stay completely still for five minutes, and then slowly come out of the posture. Do this for at least one week, then gradually add time until you can comfortably practice stillness for 20 minutes. Do not get discouraged if you miss a day or two, just resume practice when you are able.
Why do it? Allowing yourself this sacred space can help you to access something much greater than yourself. You will begin to discover what can bring you closer to who you are and how to thrive. Perhaps gifts will be revealed you did not know you have. Maybe you will use the ones you are aware of in different ways.
COME BACK TO THE BREATH: Becoming aware of your breath can reduce stress and allow you to be present in the moment. Try this right now, no matter where you are: notice your inhale and then your exhale. Next, when you are practicing stillness, try this: When you inhale, imagine a balloon inflating in the lower abdomen (below the navel). On the exhale, let it deflate, and consciously squeeze out the stale breath as the shoulders lower. On the next inhalation, do not lift the shoulders. Bring fresh air into the lower abdomen until it is as full as it can get. Let it go with a sigh: quiet or not-so-quiet, depending on your surroundings. Let the next inhalation happen naturally, keeping the shoulders relaxed. Continue breathing like this for a few breaths or even a few minutes if you can manage. Do not worry if your mind wanders. Simply notice when it does, and then bring your awareness back to your breath.
This, my dear readers, is my gift to you for the New Year. Think of your regular practice as the beginning of a journey. This will bring you down a path where your feet feel firmly planted on the ground beneath you while your head is in the heavens. Imagine that!
Happy New Year!