***5 Ways to Slow Down this Holiday Season***
The seat belt exercise.
Slowing down is one of the perks that arose after starting my yoga teacher training (in 2011). I steadily began to grow more self awareness in my daily activities.
One of the first times I noticed this was in my rushing out the door and into the car routine. It would go a little something like this:
I would slide into my seat, turn the ignition, punch it into reverse and be putting on my seatbelt while I checked my rearview mirror (now would be the backup camera).
At the time, I thought this was massively efficient and time-saving, I guess. It had seemed to just develop through a pattern of being in a hurry. But that particular morning, on my way out the door, I realized that I was 2-3 steps ahead of myself.
My safety wasn’t being treated like a priority, rather more of an afterthought, not to mention anyone else’s. So at that moment, I got out of the car and started again… hence, the seatbelt exercise. From then on, I approach the car, unlock it and slide in as grafully as I am able, putting my things where they are secure.
Then, I put on my seatbelt, thinking how grateful I am to be safe on my travels. I check my mirrors, put on some tunes (or hook up that bluetooth) and then start the car. After a deep breath, I shift gently into reverse and let my foot off the brake. It’s going to be an awesome day!
If you haven’t already, my guess is that you will walk somewhere today. Whether it’s from the car to the door, the table to the dishwasher or around the neighborhood with your furry friend, walking is an opportunity to slow down. This is so important because if we continue to rush through life, there will come a time when we will HAVE to slow down (gravity , aging, surgery, etc).
You want to be able to enjoy this space for reflection and healing slowly rather than spending the entire journey frustrated that you can’t whiz around anymore. There are ages and stages of life for a reason. Get to know walking with intention now so that you can continue this beautiful practice into the future.
To walk intently, first gently stretch your joints- circling ankles, bending and straightening knees and rocking hips. As you stand tall in good posture, take a step forward with your left foot as you inhale deeply. Then step forward with the right as you exhale. Feel the feet roll against the floor from heel to toe. Repeat, left… then right… left, then right.
With each step you may think to yourself, “I am breathing in. I am breathing out” Let the body and mind wait until those slow deep breaths are ready to transition to the next phase. When you reach your destination, bask in the warmth of those focused, present steps and what they have reminded you about what matters most today
Have you ever done the raisin meditation before? It is a popular technique that helps you to slow down and enjoy eating as a sensory experience rather than a ‘throwing it in your mouth, getting it down and moving on to the next bite experience’. Each little raisin is unique and can teach us a lot about slowing down as we eat.
Once you try this technique, you will never forget it! Also, it’s fun to share with friends and family, little ones will like it too! Here is an adult friendly, guided version I found for you to do today. It will take about 5 minutes. And if you don’t have a raisin, feel free to use another small piece of food on hand (a blueberry or carrot perhaps).
Fun fact: did you know that chewing food 32 times before swallowing is beneficial for digestion! On a yoga retreat, our guru would instruct 50 slow chews before swallowing or grabbing for the next bite. It is difficult but helps build resilience and a healthy relationship with food for sure!
What is your current gratitude regimen? Do you pray at night before bed? I do. However, I have recently shifted some of the languaging of my prayers (aka wishes) from borderline begging for something to happen on my terms (“keep Caleb safe and help him get healthy from his cold, etc etc”) to an exercise in gratitude, while still maintaining to pray.
For example, I will address my maker, “God”, “The Divine”, “Universal Energy”, [insert your prayer destination] and then always follow up with THANK YOU. My prayers begin to sound something like this every night, “Divine Mother, Holy Father, thank you for this day. Thank you for our food and our family. Thank you for our warm home and the people in it that I am grateful to spend time with, being present to one another. Thank you for our safety, our protection from harm, our health, our happiness, our freedom and ease.
I am so grateful for these gifts and the gifts I may receive tomorrow including feeling refreshed, welcoming abundance and more laughter with my kids. Thank you that all beings may be safe, protected, happy, healthy, at ease and free tonight. Amen”.
Needless to say, gratitude really helps me to slow down. If my prayer resonates with you, please use it to list your gratefuls as you pray. Also, please let me know your favorite way to show gratitude by replying to this message!
If gratitude is prayer, then let self-care be the Holy Bible (or any other sacred symbol you uphold in your life)! So many of us want nothing but for our loved ones to be happy and supported, etc, etc, etc. Often, however, those good intentions don’t match up with our own energy threshold and patterns.
Not to worry, there is a way to make caring for others 1000% effective! Put yourself first. Now I know your Momma might not have taught you this one, ladies. And it is very likely that her Mom didn’t teach her either.
Being # 1 on your list sets every day off right and ends the chaos with feeling at home and at peace each night. I like to start the day with a run or some stretches on my mat (I leave it out in the corner of my room so it’s ready for movement at all times). Then I use a positive affirmation like I am healthy, I am strong, I am happy,etc. (saying I love you in the mirror is vastly underrated btw and it always makes me smile and giggle :))
At night, restorative yoga poses, like legs up the wall with slow breathing exercises (try square breathing) is ahhhhmazing for a good night’s sleep. Ultimately, self-care = time for you FIRST because you are a priority. You are ENOUGH! And you are WORTHY!!!
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