NOT THAT 'M' WORD
I was blessed to spend my weekend with 14 incredible foster carers on my final Rest & Reset Retreat for 2018. It is a truly humbling experience to offer my self-care offerings to such selfless humans in the prime of their life’s purpose of service. Subject to stressful and unpredictable experiences, they open their homes and hearts to care for children who are removed from hostile environments and traumatic upbringings.
My retreats focus on self-awareness, self-care, rest and full body nourishment. Yoga Nidra, meditation, massage, pamper sessions, delicious food and yin yoga is on offer, with plenty of time to rest and connect with others. Connection, I believe, is the most important thing they take away from the weekend. Connection with their partners, themselves, and with others in similar situations offers a sense of belonging, creates understanding and a feeling of being heard, and offers community and support.
I focused on the connection of mind/body breath connection and the positive influence this can has on physical and mental health. Guests were offered an opportunity to develop an awareness of their breath to cultivate a relationship with it. This automatic process of drawing in oxygen and filling up with life force is something we take for granted. It is such a simple act to be aware of your breath, yet we rarely take the time to notice. It brings us into the present moment so we can embrace and enjoy each moment for what it is, rather than worry for what it was, or is yet to become.
Breath awareness, in its most basic form, is meditation.
Oh no not that ‘m’ word.
Meditation is not some elusive, unobtainable woowoo practice that the Dalai Lama and barefooted hippies practice. It is a vital part of living, especially with social influences and pressures, and has scientifically proven benefits for your physical and mental wellbeing. While there are many ways to meditate, sitting quietly for a few minutes each day and focusing on your breath is a simple tool to manage the impact of stress and modern day living.
Some proven benefits of meditation:
Reduce depression and anxiety
Promotes anti-inflammatory genes – This is important because inflammation is the number one cause of all disease. Not only does it stop inflammation, but also reverses it. Less inflammation means less disease.
Reduce blood pressure and heart rate
Increase concentration and attention
Improve self-awareness and response to adverse situations
On retreat my guests used these words to describe how they felt after 5 minutes of breath awareness:
~ Relaxed ~ Calm ~ Soft ~ Happy ~ Rested ~ Awake/alert ~ Peaceful ~ Still ~ Quiet ~
Doesn’t that sound delicious? You can create the same feelings for yourself by offering yourself a few minutes to breathe consciously.
Here is a simple meditation offering for you today:
Set a timer for 5 minutes (or longer) that has a soft ringing tone at the end. I love Insight Timer app for a gentle alert at the end of my meditation
Sit quietly on chair in an upfront position with both feet on the floor and your spine straight. If you’re comfortable sitting on the floor or on your bed, place a cushion under your bottom to elevate your hips and cross your legs. Keep your spine straight to allow energy to flow freely through you
Place your hands on your lap with your palms facing up (this is an energetic calling for receiving). If you feel like you need to be more grounded place your palms facing down
Close your eyes and take a deep full breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Do this 5 times. Feel your body softening and releasing tension as you exhale and settle in to the moment
Keep your eyes softly closed and return to your natural breath. Breathe in and out of your nose. Notice the belly rise and fall as you inhale and exhale. If nose breathing is challenging breath through your mouth
Simply continue breathing in this way, focusing on the breath coming in and out. Continue until the timer goes off
When the time goes off take a deep breath in and open mouth sigh out 3 times then gently open your eyes
The meditation is finished
How do you feel?
Have a beautiful day, take a few big breaths and tune in to your body today.
With love and light,