A simple, relaxing meditation

IMG_20170630_222641_026

This is a very simple meditation I have been practicing lately that I absolutely love! I have read about it and heard about it in many books and meditation apps, but I just started practicing it lately. It’s a present moment awareness meditation similar to the ‘noting’ meditations, but this time just focusing on positive thoughts and sensations, and then labelling them. Our brains have a negative bias, which means we usually spend more time and energy focusing on negative experiences than on positive. Sometimes this can be useful, and it can be part of our defense system; however, sometimes it is nice to just pause for a few minutes each day and focus only on the positives. Doing so can be a very relaxing experience.

Just close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to center yourself. Next, begin to note any positive sensations or thoughts that arise at the moment. Describe them to yourself in simple, positive one-word labels like ‘calm’, ‘bliss’, ‘relaxed’, ‘quiet’, ‘softness’… whatever it may be that you notice in the moment, that is positive. There is no wrong answer here. When you notice negative thoughts arising, or that your mind has wandered off to the past or future, simply and gently tell yourslef ‘let it go’, or ‘release’, or ‘hey, don’t go anywhere’ (the latter is my personal favorite, and it is from a relaxation meditation from Emma Mills). Then, just come back to your postive words. Do this for as long as you’d like. When you are done, simply stop noting the words, take a few deep breaths, and then open your eyes.

“No more words. In the name of this place we drink in with our breathing, stay quiet like a flower.
So the nightbirds will start singing. “

-Rumi

Happy World Sleep Day – The Sleep Guru

ss-relaxation

Today was World Sleep Day! I wanted to share Anandi’s (The Sleep Guru) latest blog post. I have mentioned her before when I was raving about her Yoga Nidra CD. In her newest blog post she has a free short meditation available for download to help you let go of the day. Give it a try and I hope you have a restful sleep! (PS: Image source-serenity-station.com)

Happy World Sleep Day

World Sleep Day is an annual event, a celebration of sleep and a call to action for anyone suffering with sleep issues to do something about them once and for all. The Day is organised by the World Sleep Day Committee of the World Association of Sleep Medicine.

Twitter post World sleep day 2016

I love this year’s slogan “goods sleep is a reachable dream” because it’s true. Ayurveda tells us that a healthy balanced person will sleep well, digest well, and feel great. Someone who has no equilibrium in their life and is of the constitution typical of insomnia (Vata), the slightest thing could tip the balance between sleeping well and not sleeping well.

It seems that in this hectic, stressful world, more and more people are having trouble sleeping. Most people need a minimum of 6-7 hours sleep, but are not getting it. I know that if I don’t get at least 6 hours I feel muggy headed and exhausted. If you:-

have an irresistible urge to close your eyes during the day
feel that you can’t concentrate
sense of an intense tiredness
are always irritable

…you’re not getting enough shut eye!

On the other hand if you are getting enough good quality sleep you’ll:

be feeling simply marvelous during the day – yes, it really does happen
actually being fun to be around
find that you have a positive outlook on life more often than not
have a stronger immunity
feel more alert
be more creative – if your brain has had a proper rest, it works better!
look better! Those bags under your eyes don’t have to be a permanent fixture!

The best way to get good sleep is to get your whole life into balance. Running from 6.30am and still balancing your bank account at 10pm is not balance.

You absolutely need to wind down in the evening. If you click here, I’ve prepared a winding down in the evening ritual and a free ‘let go of the day’ meditation. If you start with this and do this every night for a month, you’ll be on your way to more balance. A balanced human being sleeps, I promise.

If you’ve signed up for my newsletter you will have been receiving my sleeping tips.

My question to you is, have you been following them?

I welcome feedback and would love to know how you’re getting on!

Have a wonderful day.

Love

Anandi

via Happy World Sleep Day – The Sleep Guru.

A good Night’s Sleep

71AbJYlDjhL._SX450_ (1)

A good night’s sleep can do wonders for our health and wellbeing. During the day we are in a metabolic phase, when our cells require and burn energy. While we sleep, we go into an anabolic  state, where our bodies repair and rejuvenate. After a good night’s sleep, we wake up with more energy, a clearer mind and usually a better mood.
There are a few steps we can take in order to get a deeper, more restful sleep. I have read quite a few books and articles about this, and watched quite a few documentaries. Here are some things I have learned:

  • Spend as much time as possible in natural daylight during the day. Go for a little walk outside after lunch if possible, and soak up some sunshine and some fresh air.
  • Avoid over-stimulating the mind in the evening with caffeine and technology. If you must be on your phone or laptop, install a blue-light filter. This filters the blue light emitted by your screen after sunset and applies a pleasant soft red filter (think of the way it looks outside when the sun is setting). The filter intensity is gradually adjusted to the sun cycle based on your location.
  • Don’t overnap during the day. If you feel tired, try practicing yoga NIdra instead (I talked about this in a previous post), try meditating or do something relaxing . Afternoons are the time when physically we tend to hit an energy slump, but it is a great time to do something that rests the body but keeps the mind engaged. Things like reading a book or painting are great options.
  • Have an early, light dinner. This is because a big meal, or a meal too high in sugar will spike your blood sugar and boost your metabolism which will keep you up for longer.
  • Don’t perform any strenuous physical activities. Instead, a 20 minute walk outise after dinner or some gentle yoga or stretches, followed by breathing meditation will help the body and mind unwind after the day.
  • Create a relaxing bed-time ritual. Maybe turn off your phone or TV an hour before bed and read a book instead. Meditate. Write in your journal. Sip on some herbal tea like chamomile, hops, lavender or peppermint.
  • Have a 20-minute bath before bed. I once watched a documentary where they explained that it is the steep drop in our body temperature after a hot bath that puts us in a deeper sleep. With my two children who also love baths and only one bathtub in the house, I don’t get to have a bath as often as I would like to (every night), but when I do get the chance (once a week), I make it luxurious…candlelight, luxurious oils, soothing music, herbal tea, eye pads soaked in rose water, my favorite face mask…and finish with a really nice self-massage with body balm with rose, tuberose and vetivert or a body oil with jasmine and sandalwood and acupressure facial massage with my favorite rose face oil. So maybe it is not as often as I would like, but when I do get the time, I make sure it’s pure bliss
  • Your bedroom should be aired out, cool and dark. Using aromatherapy like lavender, basil and jasmine can help you relax even more. I put a few drops of lavender or jasmine on a handkerchief and place it in my pillowcase.
  • Try going to bed around the same time every evening….ideally at around 10-10:30 pm.
  • When you are in bed, use a relaxation technique to help the body relax. For me, I cover my eyes with a silk eye pillow, filled with flax, peppermint and lavender. I absolutely love the gentle coolness of the silk, the weight of the pillow gently helping relax tension around my eyes and the aromatherapy of lavender and peppermint. It even helps relieve tension when I get a headache. I used to use a silk eye mask, but I personally find the heaviness of the eye pillow much more relaxing. I can feel the tension of the muscles around my eyes just melt away. I also use the Intelligent Nutrients Destress Express elixir on my pressure points. It has peppermint, spearmint, ravintsara, cardamom, cinnamon, chamomile, lime, vanilla and red raspberry, and it is a personal favorite of mine, but you can use any other aromatherapy you may prefer. Lavender and jasmine are also known for their relaxing, sleep-inducing effects. I practice some deep breathing and then a full body relaxation or body scan. I usually fall asleep before I complete it.

Here is a really delicious dinner recipe I learned to make from the Neom Guide to Sleep book for a good night’s sleep:

 

what to eat1

what to eat123

And here is a body scan – relaxation technique:

Begin by laying down and taking 10 slow, deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Feel your mind and body slow down and begin to unwind. Feel the tension start to release.

The next part is a visualization to help relax your body. As you inhale, you visualize a warm, healing bright light enveloping the part of the body you are focusing on. As you exhale, you release it. Feel that body part energized, healed and relaxed. I think of this almost like a very relaxing, healing massage with pure, white light.

Begin with moving your attention to your toes. As you inhale, visualize a warm, bright white light travelling through your toes. As you exhale, let this light energize, heal and relax your toes.

Move your attention to your ankles. As you inhale, visualize a warm, bright white light enveloping your ankles. As you exhale, feel this light energize, heal and relax your ankles.

Keep repeating this for the following body parts: middle of your calves, your knees, middle of your thighs, your sacrum, your hips, your pelvis, your navel, your heart, your lower back, your entire spine, vertebra by vertebra, your shoulders, your fingertips, your palms, your wrists, your forearms, your elbows,  your upper arms, your neck, your face: your chin, jaw, lips, tongue, throat, your nostrils, your cheeks, muscles around your eyes, eyes, eyelids, eyebrows, area between the eyebrows, forehead, temples, ears, the back of your head, the crown of your head.

Once the whole body is relaxed, focus on this healing energy enveloping your entire body. Feel your whole body fully relaxed and healed. Take 10 deep, slow breaths, in silence.

If you are not sleeping already, or if you are doing this in the afternoon, you can begin to wiggle your fingers and toes, rub your palms together and gently place them over your eyes. Then, slowly sit up, still with your eyes closed. When you are ready, open your eyes.

Top image found on Google images.

Yoga Nidra

10787802_736313396453327_1682779372_n

Yoga Nidra is a beautiful, profound practice that completely relaxes the body while awakening deeper layers of  consciousness. Practicing 30 minutes of Yoga Nidra is said to be the equivalent of 3-4 hours of deep sleep. It is actually my all-time favorite practice that I have been doing at least weekly, and many times daily, for the last 9 years.
I have very fond memories of the time when I discovered this practice. It was when I just had my first daughter (in 2007). I was a new mom, and I was tired… I came across Shiva Rea’s Yoga Nidra practice from her Drops of Nectar CD. It changed my life! It was the only thing that kept me going through the day. I would practice it while my daughter napped, and after 20 minutes of practice, I would feel awake and alert and fully rested. I kept up with it and practiced with many yoga teachers throughout the years. I still practice it to this day, and in fact I just did 30 minutes of it this afternoon.
If you find yourself in need of some deep relaxation, or haven’t had a good night’s sleep, or feel tired, or have a hard time falling asleep, or are in need of some healing, I STRONGLY recommend it. It is easy to do, and OH, SO POWERFUL!
I will write out the basics of a Yoga Nidra Practice, but I recommend, if you are new to the practice, you should get a guided practice. There are many available. My personal favorites are Shiva Rea – Drops of Nectar (MY FAVORITE- it also has a few other beautiful, simple meditations and a tennis ball shiatsu self-massage/meditation practice that is amazing!), Rod Stryker (an amazing teacher as well, he has a Yoga Nidra practice for free on https://yogainternational.com/article/view/yoga-nidra-practice ) and Anandi, aka “The Sleep Guru” (she has a beautiful and VERY VERY relaxing Yoga Nidra Practice CD). These are my favorite for guided Yoga Nidra practices, but there are many others out there as well. There are other great written guides online as well, but I personally prefer listening to someone guiding me through the practice.
Here are the basic steps of a Yoga Nidra practice (I put this together from all the practices I have done, from Shiva Rea, Rod Stryker, Anandi).
The goal is to remain alert and awake while your body deeply relaxes. Falling asleep or drifting off is natural in the beginning. I still fall asleep during Yoga Nidra if I practice it in bed before I go to sleep. Eventually, you will develop your capacity to stay conscious during the practice of Yoga Nidra. I find it is easier to manage this if I practice in the afternoon, on the floor (not in bed). After my practice, I feel like I just had a very restful nap!:)
To begin the practice of Yoga Nidra, you should be lying on your back. Make sure you are completely comfortable, as it important to remain completely still during your practice. Use pillows under your neck and knees for support if you need to, as well as a blanket to keep you warm. I also like a silk eye pillow on my eyes.
Close your eyes.
Become aware of your surroundings. Any sounds you hear in the distance. Just observe.Try not to concentrate. Move your awareness to the sounds in the building. Again, just notice. Move your attention to the sounds in the room you are in. Now try to visualize the room you are in. Keep your eyes closed. Visualize the walls, the floor, the ceiling, etc. Visualize your body lying on the floor (or bed), visualize yourself like a mirror reflection… the clothes you are wearing, the position your body is in, the blanket that is covering you… Completely relax into the floor.
Become aware of your breath. Don’t concentrate on it, just observe your breath…the effortless, coolness of your inhale, the effortless, warmth of your exhale, soft, gentle…no strain, nothing forced. Calm, long, slow breathing.
Next part is your resolve (SANKALPA). This is a short, positive statement that you would like to achieve or see take place in the next 6-8 months. Repeat it to yourself 3 times. Visualize this as it has already happened.
Next, comes a rotation of consciousness. This is where you begin to move your awareness around different parts of your body. Feel each of these parts, but do not move. Remain still and alert. The practice begins on the right side.
Right hand thumb … 2nd finger … 3rd finger … 4th finger … 5th finger … palm of the hand … back of the hand …wrist … forearm … elbow … upper arm … shoulder … armpit … waist … hip … thigh … knee … calf … ankle … heel …sole of the foot … top of the foot … right big toe … 2nd toe … 3rd toe … 4th toe … 5th toe.
Left hand thumb … 2nd finger … 3rd finger … 4th finger … 5th finger … palm of the hand … back of the hand … wrist… forearm … elbow … upper arm … shoulder … armpit … waist … hip … thigh … knee … calf … ankle … heel … sole of the foot … top of the foot … left big toe … 2nd toe … 3rd toe … 4th toe … 5th toe.
Next, the back of the body … right heel … left heel … right calf … left calf … right thigh … left thigh … right buttock … left buttock … lower back … middle back … upper back … right shoulder blade … left shoulder blade … back of the neck … back of the head.
Top of the head … forehead … right temple … left temple … right ear … left ear … right eyebrow … left eyebrow …middle of the eyebrows … right eye … left eye … right nostril … left nostril … right cheek … left cheek … upper lip …lower lip … both lip together … chin … jaw … throat … right collarbone … left collarbone … right side of the chest …left side of the chest … upper abdomen … navel … lower abdomen … right groin … left groin … the pelvis
The whole right leg (from hip to toes) … whole left leg (hip to toes) … whole right arm (shoulder to fingers) … whole left arm(shoulder to fingers) … the whole face … the whole head … the whole torso … the whole body.
Now go back to your breath. Visualize the breath moving through you, through your whole body. Don’t strain.
Next, move your awareness to opposite sensations:
Imagine your body feels extremely light, like a balloon, Feel like you are floating, like your whole body is empty, light
Next, imagine your body is really heavy. Feel it sinking into the floor.
Invoke the sensation of extremely cold. Think back of a time when you were really cold. Feel it in your body.
Now think of a time when you felt extremely hot. Experience that sensation.
Next comes visualization.  Visualize yourself in nature. Think mountains, ocean, moon, sun…any place that is relaxing to you. Visualize it in detail, the scenery, the smells, the physical sensations,what emotions they brings up (comfort, peace, relaxation, love, happiness, freedom, joy, confidence, safety etc. ) Stay here for a little while.
Next, it is the time to repeat your resolve (sankalpa). Only once this time.
Now  come back to the to your breath, bring back your awareness to your physical body, to the floor, to the room you are in. Start to wiggle your fingers, your toes, wake your body up. Do it slowly.
Get up slowly and open your eyes. Sit for a few moments in stillness.
I hope you give Yoga Nidra a try (if you don’t practice it already) and find more calm and relaxation into your lives!:)