Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Change Could Do You Good

alarm clock with routines mapped out

photo courtesy of girlzone.com

“Mom, I had a bad dream.” I heard this all-too-familiar whisper in my ear, from my 6-year-old son, at 4am this morning.  It woke me physically from a deep sleep, but mentally with a smile on the inside.  I hate that he has had such a jolting dream that he feels he must find a place other than his own bed in which to find comfort…but I love that he feels this comfort right between my husband and I, safe and snug in our bed.

Sometimes a simple change in location or routine is all it takes for us to feel comforted.  When we are jolted from our daily lives due to life’s traumas (big or small), we sometimes feel like we cannot find rest or peace.  Perhaps finding comfort is as simple as getting away from our routine (literally or figuratively) for a day, or even an hour.  For me, this place is most often my yoga mat.  Of course, I have been a yoga practitioner since 1986, so to me, doing yoga is like breathing!  If that is not something that is a part of your regular routine, here are a few suggestions for you to consider:

  • Try a new exercise routine
    • Tai Chi is very calming and relaxing due to its fluid movements and breathing.  It also requires the same type of focus found in yoga. Any of what we call the “mind-body disciplines” link the mind and body, so that intense focus leads to a more relaxed state.
  • Go for a walk or a hike in nature, rather than the treadmill
    • I have personally observed tremendous changes in people over the years during the curriculum of my yoga teacher training school (Feel Your Best). For many students enrolled, this first change comes toward the very beginning of the program, during a “Walking Meditation”.  In a walking meditation, the purpose is to walk without an expectation…clearing the mind by slowing down the body and being in nature. Many people find that the combination of those two things leads to a wonderful rhythm that is so often NOT present in “traditional” walking or other types of exercise (Look for next month’s post, called “Walking Meditation” for specific instructions).
  • “Escape” with a book that takes place in an exotic locale
    • Much research has been done on the positive effects of visualization, and the conscious relaxation that follows. The same can be true of reading a book set in a locale that is pleasing to imagine.  Even reading one chapter for 15-30 minutes a day can help you feel more relaxed as you imagine those surroundings.

Sometimes this change of location must be more dramatic or lengthy…it depends upon the severity of what we feel life has thrown us.  Recently, I anticipated that my son’s trip with his biological dad to Disneyworld would be a difficult thing for me, as my son spends the majority of time with my husband and I in Colorado.  When he is away for a week to visit his father in Wisconsin, often I find that I am able to use that time to give myself the gifts that I usually cannot give: a night out with girlfriends, a pedicure, a date night with my husband (one that goes beyond McDonalds Play Place!), a relaxing massage.  But this time, during this particular 2-week trip, my son would be going to Disneyworld for the first time–for a whole week–and my husband would be simultaneously on a work trip to New York.

Since my life has been emotionally challenging lately, I decided to tag along with my husband to New York.  My friends asked what I was planning to do while there…to which I replied “nothing!”  I really wanted to attempt to see what would happen when I didn’t fill my days with things to do…and it was glorious!  I did whatever sounded relaxing, whenever I wanted, without judgment.  If my body needed a 3-hour nap, it got it! I practiced yoga, I walked, I ate peanut butter sandwiches (my comfort food!), I read “Hollywood gossip” magazines, as well as a self-help book…I just let my body and mind lead the way! Yes, we of course did the tourist-y stuff on the weekend, while my husband was free: we went to Central Park, saw the 9/11 Memorial, ate at some amazing restaurants, and went to a Broadway show…but it was probably the most relaxing week I can remember.  Just giving myself permission to slow down and do whatever I felt like was so liberating…I intend to do the same thing at home the next time my son and husband might be gone at the same time, even if it’s only for an hour!

I want to hear from you! What are some ways you re-center yourself, when you feel off-course? From the mundane to the crazy, let me hear it! You just might see your response in an upcoming blog!

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