Wellness Starts with Self … Capital S

Wellness Starts with Self … Capital S

woman meditating silhouette in sunlight

I share a different perspective on “self-care” and how it ultimately benefits the world around us.

This was originally featured in the Traveling Within section of the International Yoga Teacher Spotlight series.

How do we take care of ourselves when things are challenging?

The first thing I would say on the topic of self-care during challenging times is that it is not a luxury, it is a must. Recognizing that some of our time and attention needs to go towards our well-being in addition to the time we may need to give towards managing the challenging circumstances is essential. Our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness is going to directly influence how we can cope with our situation. If we are remaining fairly balanced, then our choices and actions will come from that balanced space. If we are the opposite; stressed, anxious, physically exhausted, nutritionally depleted, then our decisions are going to reflect that state of being. We may find ourselves taking actions in ways that are exaggerating the problems we are facing rather than functioning at our best to manage them.

You titled the article Wellness starts with Self … capital S. What do you mean by capital S?

We often think of self-care as the things we do to nurture and support our physical bodies and emotional being. For instance; some self-care practices we may choose to do include the food we are eating. Choosing to eat healthy and highly nutritious foods and staying away from foods that agitate our nervous systems is a good practice to do anytime but especially during times of challenge. Getting enough exercise is important. Getting enough sleep is important. Talking to a therapist could be necessary. All of these things are important to replenish our reserves, boost our energy and support us with clarity but they are often not enough. When our lives get turned upside down, these are powerful times of transition and transformation. Calling on our deeper Self, the wisest and most spiritual aspect of our nature, that part of us that remains the same no matter what the surrounding circumstances, is what will offer us some steady ground and perspective. It is this Self that can observe with a more panoramic vision all that is going on. This is the Self that is the source of new habits and patterns of being which are often the keys to helping us move forward through these transitional periods.

The Self (capital S) is usually experienced as a deep silence space within. But even though it is felt inwardly as a reservoir of quiet and peace it manifests outwardly as a strong, resilient guide for our life choices. An inner stronghold in which we can rely upon even in the heaviest of storms. A last thing about the Self is that this Self (capital S) is not something out there that we have to strive hard to reach. We are already the Self and all that needs to be done is to recognize this inherent source of creative vitality, wisdom and love.

What are some practices that you suggest we do?

Begin by recognizing and honoring the time period you are in.

Taking some time in quiet reflection to step back from all of the chaos and just listen. Meditation is a great tool for this. Even if it is only for 5 minutes a day. That 5 minutes of doing nothing but just being quiet can become the most important 5 minutes of your day.

 

Attend to yourself with both wisdom and kindness.

Wisdom is how we gain insight into our deeper selves and kindness is the necessary ingredient that helps opens us up to more care. Treating yourself kindly could be as simple as eating a good nourishing meal or taking a walk in the woods. Whatever it is that you find comforting, do more of it.

 

Accept the “not-knowing” part of the process.

You may be moving into unfamiliar territory and want to know all of the answers right away. As Raine Maria Rilke says, be patient towards all that is unresolved in your heart, learning to love the questions themselves.”

 

And at the same time, you accept the “not-knowing,”

Live the experience that even though you do not understand; somewhere, it is understood.

Acknowledging the mystery of the Greater Universe and the presence of the Self, the deeper part of your nature that does know that it is all OK just as it is.

 

Be willing to ask for support when you need it and seek out others’ help and presence.

Building a network of “care-givers” when you are having a hard time caring for yourself is essential.

 

The last thing I would share is that our “Self-Care” is not selfish.

We can think of it as the foundation of selflessness. When we feel healthy, balanced, nourished and centered in our wisest Self, we not only have more to offer others but what we will offer will be more skillful and compassionate.

 

 

 

Short & Simple Pranayama Practice for Clearing

Short & Simple Pranayama Practice for Clearing

Short & Simple Pranayama Practice for Clearing

by Erika Trice | 4 minute meditation

According to yoga science and philosophy, pranayama techniques are one of the best ways to purify our energy body and our minds. They help support focus and clarity. There are many types of pranayamas and, in general, all of them cleanse the body and purify the mind.

This is a short and simple pranayama practice that you can do every day.

  • For this practice you will want to do this practice sitting with an upright spine and open chest. Also you will be using your right hand to close off the nostrils. You can use the thumb on your right hand when you are closing your right nostril and the ring finger of your right hand to close off the left nostril.
  • The inhalations are easy and smooth while the exhalations have a little more force to them.
  • You will be doing 3 rounds on both the right and left sides. And 3 rounds thru both nostrils. Taking a few recover breaths in between.
  • This is a short and simple pranayama practice that you can do everyday.

Let’s begin

  • Inhale deeply through both nostrils.
  • At the top of the inhalation, close your right nostril and exhale strongly through the left nostril. Emptying your lungs. Then inhale smoothly and deeply through the left nostril. And again exhale strongly through the left nostril. Inhale again into the left, and finally exhale strongly back out thru the left.
  • Release your right nostril.
  • Then bring your attention to the center between the eyebrows and take a few normal breaths through both nostrils.
  • Now switch to the other side.
  • Take a normal breath through both nostrils and then close the left nostril as you exhale strongly out through the right nostril. Inhale smoothly and deeply into the right nostril. Exhale strongly thru the right nostril. One last time…inhale into the right nostril and exhale completely out the right nostril.
  • Release your hands back down onto your lap.
  • Then bring your attention to the eyebrow center and take three normal breaths in and out.
  • And finally allow both nostrils to remain open and inhale smoothly into both and exhale strongly out both. Inhale again into both nostrils and exhale and forcefully out both nostrils. Repeat this one more time.
  • Then just sit quietly for a moment allowing the breath to be and feeling the cleansing action of this practice.

Entering into a Healing Sanctuary

Entering into a Healing Sanctuary

Entering into a Healing Sanctuary

by Erika Trice | 10 minute meditation

Entering into a Healing Sanctuary is a visualization meditation. Its focus is on connecting with your “spiritual helpers/guides”. It is great to use when you would like to access your own inner wisdom and guidance. The practice supports tuning into your intuition.

  • Find a comfortable position again, you can sit or lie down –organizing your posture in a stable and comfortable way.
  • Deepen into your breath…slowly beginning to lengthen it. Relaxing across your brow, release your jaw, soften your belly.
  • As you sit here in this room with all of the sounds surrounding you, allow yourself to be transported to a beautiful healing sanctuary or temple…visualizing yourself walking into this healing place …it may be outdoors in nature or inside in a sacred temple…see yourself entering this magical place, finding a place to sit …a place where you can be comfortable and safe 
  • As you sit ……sense what it feels like to be in this holy place….it is a place of refuge for you ….a place of great healing for you…
  • Begin to look around this place and notice what is in the environment…..what is in this space with you….is there nature around you, trees, flowers, water, what does the sky look like, are there animals nearby if you are outdoors, …if you are indoors what are the walls like, are there pictures, is there furniture what are the colors in the room
  • Noticing this space in all of its detail….
  • Noticing the sounds that are in this space if there are any, you may notice smells if there are any, maybe you smell flowers or incense, beautiful fragrances wafting in the air filling you up, let yourself notice the colors of the place, the light and colors all around you….you may notice that the colors in this magical place are more brilliant ….more healing
  • As you feel yourself settle and relax more deeply here …
  • Notice what the energy is like here for you….how does your body respond to this healing sanctuary…
  • Continue to look around this place and notice that you begin to sense the presence of other wise and loving beings there with you…..these beings are your Spiritual helpers, your highest level spiritual guides and teachers…and if you feel comfortable doing so….call them into this space even more now so that you can feel and possibly see their presence ….knowing that they are there to support you in your awakening and healing
  • And as you sense their presence with you, surrounding you, helping you to soften and relax more deeply into this healing space
  • You may want to ask these wise beings or being a question right now…asking them is there anything specific you could do to help you to find more healing and balance in your life? If you would like to, go ahead and then listen within to their answer.
  • You can also just simply ask them if they have any messages for you?
  • Remember that their answer may come in many forms, as words you hear, or pictures, symbols, or it may come in just an inner knowing
  • Feel to free to continue a dialogue with them for a few more minutes and if you hear nothing, just continue to kindly ask. Being open to whenever the message will come. Some messages come after the meditation is over…even another day from now.
  • As you listen allow yourself to relax even more deeply now, breathing easily and effortlessly. Taking in the healing energy of this place.
  • Once the wise beings your high spirit guides and teachers spoken. You may want to thank them for the wisdom they have shared with you. And if you are willing, ask that you continue to feel and sense their presence even after this meditation is over.
  • Once you feel complete with this, take another look around this place, breathing it in. Remembering that you can come back here anytime you would like to. It is your healing place.
  • And then begin to stand up, walking out of this temple and when you are out of the temple doors or gate. Take a deep breath in, feeling into your body here in this room. And opening your eyes when you are ready.

Loving Kindness Meditation for Your Self

Loving Kindness Meditation for Your Self

Find a posture that allows you to be comfortable and at ease. Settling into your seat. Taking a few full breaths in and out.

Scanning thru your body, letting go of whatever tension you can.

Relaxing thru your shoulders, softening your hands, softening your belly. And even relaxing your feet.

It can be helpful to create an experience of loving kindness in the body by imagining an inner smile and the felt sense of a smile spreading throughout your whole being. Warm, bright and open.

You can imagine a smile behind your eyes …turning the corners of the eyes softly upward. Sensing a smile in the chest – the region of the heart. A smile inside the abdomen, inside the pelvis.

Feeling the warmth, the ease, the openness of that smile radiating inside the whole body now. Including your mind so that your thoughts, and your entire mental life floats in this more receptive space.

A space that can hold this life as it is.
Now bring to mind someone who you find easy to feel love with. It can be a friend, a family member, a teacher, or even a pet.

 

Someone who you trust fully loves and cares for you or someone who arouses your deep love and care for them – maybe a child or someone who you sense is vulnerable.

Whoever you brought to mind – sense that being’s goodness. What makes him or her dear to you. What brings up your sense of care.
Now hold this being in your attention and begin to offer the following phrases of loving kindness to them…

May you be filled with loving kindness. Held in loving kindness. May you realize loving kindness is your essence.

May you be happy.
May you accept yourself just as you are.
May you feel safe and free from harm.
May you feel peaceful.

As you offer these phrases, you might imagine the person receiving them.

You can repeat the phrases again…
May you be filled with loving kindness. Held in loving kindness. May you realize loving kindness is your essence.

May you be happy.
May you accept yourself just as you are.
May you feel safe and free from harm.
May you feel peaceful.

Now bringing your attention to your own being. Allowing yourself to remember and open up to your own goodness.

You might do this by bringing to mind times when you have been kind & generous – you might recall your natural desire to be happy and not to suffer. Connecting to your longing to spiritually awaken…to know Truth.

You might recognize how your honor your essential presence, your honestly, your ability to love and be love.

If acknowledging your own goodness is difficult for you, then might try looking at yourself thru the eyes of someone who knows and loves you.
Now with a silent internal whisper..begin offering yourself those same phrases of care you said earlier.

It may be helpful to place a hand on your own heart as a way of deepening your communication to your own being.

As you repeat the each phrase, sense the meaning of the words. Allowing them to become sincere prayers for your own well-being.

Feel free to change the phrases if you would like to.

May I be filled with loving kindness. May I be held in loving kindness. May I realize loving kindness is my essence.

May I be happy.
May I accept myself just as I am.
May I feel safe and free from harm.
May I feel peaceful.
Repeat the phrases again.

If you find any resistance arising in your being – maybe just stay with the phrase – May I be filled with Loving Kindness. Over and over.
Now allow your awareness to open out in all directions. In front of you, behind you, above and below you, out to the sides of you —as far as you can feel it — out infinitely.

And in this vast infinite space, feel your loving presence is holding all beings…those that you know well and those that are unknown to you – all species.

Imagine you can hold all life everywhere – the Earth, & all its beings in your infinite heart.
Aware of the Joys & Sorrows that all beings experience & again offering your caring phrases for their well-being.

May all beings be filled with loving kindness. May all beings be held in loving kindness. May all beings realize loving kindness as their essence.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings accept themselves as they are.
May all beings be safe and free from harm.
May all beings be at peaceful.
May all beings be free.

Now draw your awareness back to yourself, breathing deeply. Feeling your body sitting here –
And when you are ready – you can open your eyes.

Then let that color change to yellow…a bright, sunny yellow color.  Drink in that color as it pours down like a rain shower of light.    Sunshine yellow…filling you up.

Now imagine green light coming down – soft and healing.  Green light all around you.

Then a beautiful blue like the ocean – deep and calming.  Sapphire blue showering down with in you and all around you.

And now the color violet – spiritual uplifting, raising your vibration and cleansing any heaviness out of your aura.  Violet the color of transformation.   Breathing in this beautiful healing color.

Now imagine all of the colors of the rainbow flowing down like a rain shower …filling you up with all of their profound properties of healing.

Coming back to your breath and back into your body now.  Rubbing your palms together and placing them over your eyes.  Feeling the warmth radiating from your hands.  Gently when you are ready open your eyes.  And release your hands back down to your legs.  Feeling recharged and ready to go about your day.

 

Reclining Body Scan Meditation

Reclining Body Scan Meditation

You do not need to sit for your daily meditation. Sometimes what we need most is to lie down and relax into a restful state of present moment awareness.

I have found this simple practice to be so comforting and healing. I hope you will too.

 

 

Reclining Body Scan Meditation inspired by Jon Kabat Zinn.

15 minute guided meditation