I just can’t seem to think straight today. I have too many irons in the fire. I’m sorry I forgot; I was burning the midnight oil. Her name is on the tip of my tongue; it’s there. Give me a second. I can’t handle that right now; I have too many tabs opened in my brain.
Sound familiar? Your body runs involuntary processes all day long. These include memory, digestion, respiration, hormone regulation, and other processes that you don’t really see or think about unless something seems out of balance. But your body can also fall into “auto-pilot” with processes that you do see, such as waking up and walking straight to the sink to brush your teeth, walking in the front door and tossing your keys in the basket, or petting your dog when she brushes against your leg.
When our body experiences stress, it is designed to fight, flee, or freeze. The sympathetic nervous system takes the reigns. Our heartbeat might increase, our breathing might be come more rapid. Suddenly, we may experience stomach discomfort or tense muscles in our jaw, neck, and shoulders. Practicing yoga can help notice how our body feels, what it needs… or what it doesn’t. Through mindfulness, we can begin to see patterns between stimuli, what we think, and how we feel.
When we develop a habit of consistently functioning in the sympathetic nervous system, our bodies recalibrate to keep us alive. Signs that a person might be operating from the sympathetic nervous system can include:
abundance of cortisol production, adrenal fatigue, and weight gain
inability to down-regulate and fall asleep or stay asleep (insomnia)
fatigue, brain fog, difficulty concentrating, or decreased ability to recall facts
Fortunately, our bodies are remarkable! Practicing yoga methods for just 8 weeks can help you achieve better sleep. Better sleep can help your body achieve the restoration it needs to move closer toward functioning from the parasympathetic nervous system.
Join me for a yoga class! We’ll practice
yoga asanas (poses) and breathing to promote relaxation
Last week I found out that an online class for which I had registered was being postponed for a few months. I felt the expected gambit of emotions: surprised, disappointed, understanding, wonder for how it would impact my plans, thankful it was still being offered at a later date… you get it. When the time arrived that I would have been in class, the disappointment returned. This time it was carrying a suitcase full of unhelpful self-talk (Sanskrit: svadhyaya.)
“I should be in class right now.” “I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up.” “Of course mine would be the class that was postponed.”
Wandering thoughts are part of life; they drift in and try to take residence. Through mindfulness, we learn how to send them back to sea. Here are my 5 go-to mantras for keeping perspective when things don’t go as I thought they would.
Disappointment is part of life. It happens to everyone.
I give myself permission to feel emotions; I’m human.
This is a learning opportunity. What can I learn?
I choose to share what I am learning with others.
“All things work together for my good” is one of my core beliefs. I choose to see the good in this.
That’s it! The real reason we talk to our self is to encourage our self– to meditate on constructive thoughts instead of ruminate on fruitless thoughts. We bring awareness to our intentions. We remind ourselves of the bigger picture. We extend grace. The next time things don’t go according to plan, consider some positive reinforcement– from yourself.
Identify your core beliefs and write some mantras of your own when you register for a Crosswork yoga class.
What do you think of when someone says meditation? Maybe you picture a person sitting crisscross applesauce, with their hands on their knees, chanting OM. Maybe you think of monks or others who have devoted themselves to a life of faithful practice. Or perhaps you think of someone who is completely tuned-out.
Meditation is concentration. In Sanskrit, the word is samadhi (suh-MAH-dee.) To meditate is to be still and think on something. It is the opposite of tuning out; it is a habit of intentionally focusing your mind and awareness. Mindfulness meditation is powerful. It is free, it can be learned by nearly anyone, and it can be practiced anywhere.
Meditation is powerful. Along with other practices, including asanas (or postures), breathing, and ethics, mindfulness meditation is one of the 8 limbs of yoga. Through meditation, many people have treated or reduced the effects of anxiety and stress. It can lower your allostatic and oxidative stress loads, diminish the signs of aging, and give you an overall sense of well-being. Meditation also builds neuroplasticity– or your brain’s ability to learn and adapt.
Meditation is free. Let’s face it: a clean, sustainable lifestyle filled with organic food and clothing generally costs more. Yoga, walking, sunlight, sleep, and mindfulness meditation are free. This makes them viable health benefits to nearly everyone.
Meditation is accessible. You do not need any special clothing, equipment, gear, or a specific environment to practice meditation. You can begin anywhere, any time. Mindfulness practices are safe for people of different ages and abilities. And perhaps the most significant facet of mindfulness meditation is that it gives truly different people a common bond.
Sarah teaches mindfulness meditation for stress reduction and chronic pain.