Just Eat

Just Eat 

Food is nurturance. To be able to digest and assimilate nutrients from our food, it is best to be present to the experience.  If our attention is taken away from the sensory experience of appreciating our food, we miss out on the comfort and pleasure that eating can offer to us. Make a date with yourself and try just eating rather than eating while doing something else at the same time: reading, scrolling the cell phone, watching TV or driving.  Just eating lets you notice when the first sense of fullness of your stomach arrives, so you don’t eat more than you need to feel satisfied in the moment. Yoga suggests letting the stomach have a third solids, a third liquids and a third of remaining space. Try it. You may be surprised at how enjoyable it feels to just eat.

 

Food Is on the Table!

Food is on the Table! 

At each meal, pause to consider the long chain of inter-related events that brought the food to your table. Sun rain, soil, and all the hands that tended the plants or raised and fed the animal or caught and the fish. Recognize if the animal was likely to have received humane treatment. Consider the love and labor of those who prepared the meal. Let your breath slow down to settle your nervous system into rest and digest mode.  Allow your senses to take in the colors, textures and aroma before the first bite.  Digestion actually begins in this way, so take the time to enjoy it as it happens.

You Are Made of Food

You Are Made of Food 
We literally are what we eat as our food and water provide the constituents for the life cycle of our cells. We are constantly changing on a cellular level.  It can shift our perspective on what we eat and drink when we pause to ask ourselves if we really want our next round of tissues to be made of this? If your hair lacks luster, your skin does not appear bright and your tongue is not pink and smooth, consider the perspective of Yoga that teaches your body is a covering made of food.

Unload Your Neck

Unload Your Neck

When you settle in to read for a while or work on a computer, take time to find a comfortable way to support your elbows and forearms.  This relieves the pull of the considerable weight of the shoulder blades and arm bones off of your neck and skull. Compare the feeling of this pull with and without the arm support. Rolling up a throw across the belly or a u-shaped nursing pillow can make convenient, comfortable arm rests. Make circles with the shoulder blades often and  slowly nod the head gesturing Yes and No to release tension from the base of the skull, promoting circulatory flow to the brain. Close your eyes periodically and make slow circles of the eyes in clockwise and ante-clockwise directions to keep the eyes moist and muscles of the eyes toned. Staying current on eye exams to identify and correct visual deficits can also reduce neck strain and headaches

Feel Your Feet

Feel Your Feet

It seems such a simple thing to feel your feet as you move, but we rarely pay attention.  As bipedal creatures our feet are the contact point with the Earth.  Paying attention to the way your feet and the ground interact as you move, is a convenient way to become immediately more present.  Newton’s law of every action has an equal and opposite reaction is a reminder that the Earth is pushing back up through each foot with every step. This “ground force” travels up the foot through the bones of each leg into the pelvis, to meet at the sacrum, strengthening your bones along the way. Learn to feel the ever-present support of Mother Earth.

Blessing

Blessing

Our prayer life is an intimate topic.  Naturally, gratitude, praise and blessings for loved ones may be part of the ritual. Sometimes we may feel inhibited about extending blessing to ourselves.  Somewhere within your ritual, notice how it feels to offer from the depths of your heart “may my ________ be blessed.” Heart’s wisdom will know what to fill in the blank when attention is allowed to rested there quietly.

Stand!

Stand!

We sit too much in the West.  Prolonged sitting stagnates circulation and breath and overloads the lumbar spine. If you are a TV watcher, consider making it a practice to stand up and take deep breaths through the commercial breaks. In your home or work office, create a standing work area. Height adjustable computer stations are becoming more widely available. Set an alarm on your phone or kitchen timer to remind you to change your posture every 20 -30 minutes. It feels good!

Affirm It!

Affirm It!

Our inner dialogue is powerful.  Thoughts typically occur as words. Practice noticing what thought streams you are thinking by pausing often to make the inquiry. It is likely you will notice some repetitive themes.  Observe if the words are kind and supportive or unkind and defeating. Our inner dialogue influences our emotions, so it is helpful to become conscious of the content. However, you wish to feel, create a brief present tense statement to affirm that feeling. For example: I am strong and steady. Moving forward with right intention. Responding lovingly. Keeping my cool. Speaking clearly.  Have fun becoming your own advocate!

Soften Your Jaw

Soften Your Jaw

Our fight or flight stress response includes readiness to bite, if needed. Many of us hold this readiness as tension in the face or throat.  In a relaxed position, your teeth should not touch, but the lips should gently rest together. Notice what position your jaw is in frequently through your day.

Muscles of the temple and those attaching the cheekbone to the lower jaw, close the mouth. When we clench or grind the teeth, theses muscles pull hard on the bony plates of the skull and compress the delicate jaw joint.  This can create headaches, stuffy ears and a stiff or sore joint. Massage your face, temples and scalp whenever you shower. If you find sore spots, it is likely you are holding tension in your jaw.

Muscles in throat and under the jawline open the mouth and thrust the tongue. Habits of pressing the tongue into the floor or roof of the mouth or back of the teeth can make the throat feel tight, like there is pressure on your Adam’s apple. Teach your tongue to rest lightly on the large ridge of gum behind your top teeth.

Softening your jaw provides feedback to your nervous system that all is
well.

Nurture In Nature

Nurture In Nature

The natural world is teeming with life.  From macroscopic to microscopic.  To rejuvenate, spend time in the elements: fire, air water and earth. We crave clean air and sunshine. Our brain uses sunlight to set its biorhythms and to strengthen our bones. Breath is life.

Notice the effect of greenery. Find the spaces in your community where you can be surrounded by it. Take time to appreciate the color and texture of it. Smell the earth. Get off the pavement and walk on bare ground. When conditions permit, put down a cloth and lay your whole body on the earth. Appreciate how heavy your body feels upon it.

Take in the vastness of the sky, day and night.  Allow yourself to feel as small as you are in contrast. Find water. Immerse in it, whenever possible. Sit beside it even if it is in a bowl next to you!
Watch the play of light upon it, reflecting everything.