Inspiration for Hectic Hearts

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

~ John O’Donohue, from “Blessings”

There are some beautiful images and poignant phrases here to guide us to our Middle Ground.

May today be a day for slowing down and noticing the small miracles we rushed through.

Let nature and our senses restore mind, body and spirit.

Namaste

You Don’t Have to Be a Yogi to Do This

Today I am sharing a yoga practice with a chair. You don’t have to be a yogi to do this!

Please join me for centering, letting go, and getting a good stretch. You can even do it at your desk.

Let’s find our middle ground together!

 

Chair Yoga with Val from Val Boyko on Vimeo.

May you find peace today and everyday.

Want to feel Secure? Breathe!

feeling insecure

Source: WikiHow

“There is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity.
But the contradiction lies a little deeper than the mere conflict between the desire for security and the fact of change.

If I want to be secure, that is, protected from the flux of life, I am wanting to be separate from life. Yet it is this very sense of separateness which makes me feel insecure.
To be secure means to isolate and fortify the “I,” but it is just the feeling of being an isolated “I” which makes me feel lonely and afraid.

In other words, the more security I can get, the more I shall want.
To put it still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing.

To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.”

~ Alan Watts

How are your breathing right now? I’m smiling, because I was holding my breath as I read this.

When we bring awareness to our thoughts, feelings and especially our breath, we set the foundation for finding our middle ground and inner peace.

Holding our breath is a defense mechanism of the human body. It prepares us to react to a threat. However, it increases the tension and stress in the body, rather than bringing it to a state of balance.

In yoga we learn to deepen the breath when sensation increases. We breathe through tension and discomfort and allow the energy to keep flowing, rather than contracting and adding more tension.

Yoga is an invitation to become present in our bodies. We connect mind to body via our breath. It helps us relax, breathe, feel, and where possible let go.
Ultimately this helps us make more skillful, conscious choices and allows us to feel grounded and secure in life.
And it all starts with the breath.

Find out more about yoga breathing by clicking here.

 

Breathe Well and Live Well

Breathe well and you will find your Middle Ground.

I love to breathe! Its what attracted me to yoga and keeps me passionate about how yoga and mindfulness can transform us.
Without breathing fully, a yoga practice becomes simply a workout. Rather than calming the mind and soothing the body it can have the opposite affect. This is not yoga.

The content here is to help bring awareness to how you breathe. Its the foundation for mindful breathing to alleviate stress, reduce anxiety and to live a full and healthy life.

breath awarenessIt begins with becoming aware of your breath:

  • STEP ONE – OBSERVING

Take a few moments to prepare yourself. Sit comfortably. Relax.

Begin by simply observing your breath. Get your own natural baseline.

Place one hand on your belly and the other above your heart.

Notice the rise and fall as you breathe in and out.

Let the wave of breath flow down to below your navel.

Feel that long slow wave of breath.

Now placing both hands just below the navel. Breathe as if your breath can reach your palms.

Notice how this fills the whole body with breath.

Let your belly expand as your lungs fill with air.

Soften your body so it can open to receive the air

Let the sensation of the breath move like waves. Find your own natural rhythm and pace.

Bring attention to your belly. Imagine as you inhale, your belly is like a balloon. With each inhale it fills up with air. Use your diaphragm to expand the belly outwards creating space for the air coming in.

On the exhale allow your belly to come back towards the spine.

This is full yoga breathing.

Notice – without any judgment – if this is easy for you or somewhat difficult.

  • STEP TWO – EQUAL LENGTH

Lightly bring equal length to your inhales and exhales. Silently count in your mind to ensure they are equal length.

Imagine waves coming to the shore ebbing and flowing.

Moving on to the next step in a natural smooth way

  • STEP THREE – SLOW DOWN

See if you can slow down and expand the length of both inhales and exhales. Making the waves longer let them flow more slowly.

Find the length that is expansive and opening. If you sense any struggle you have gone too far.

Don’t try, just step into this new space, accepting that what is good enough for your body is good enough for you.

In your mind count a number that feels long and strong for each exhale and inhale.

Let yourself be in the space at the end of the exhale without grasping on the intake.

man deep relaxed breathing

  • STEP FOUR – EXPAND EXHALE

When you are ready you might want to expand your exhale making it longer than your inhale. See if you can make it twice as long.

As you release the tension in your body, allow the tension of your mind to also release with each long exhale.

Let the waves of breath flow through you.

Let the prana and life force flow through your entire body.

Come back to your natural breath and notice how you feel after this experience of mindful expansive breathing.

* Stressed For the Holidays

Want more stress in your life? These are my lucky 13 tips guaranteed to make you stressed out and miserable in time for the Holidays.

holiday stress

Rosemarie Gearhart via Getty Images

  1. Strive for perfection in everything you do. Have faith that the smallest imperfection or oversight results in complete and utter failure.
  2. Always compare yourself to others. Look for where you don’t measure up and remind yourself daily.
  3. Surround yourself with negative people. Aggressive people who constantly criticize you, are a great way to focus on your failings and keep you miserable.
  4. Aim to spend at least 20% more than your income. A must for the Holiday season!
  5. Shop at peak times. Always wait to the day before the holiday to buy food. In supermarkets hold your ground in the “less than 10 items” line!stressful holiday shopping
  6. Remember your failures. Keep a failures log. Frequently go over your many occasions of incompetence.
  7. Breathe in “I feel grumpy”
    Breathe out “I feel tense”
    Breathe in “I am stupid”
    Breathe out “I fail at everything I do”
  8. Win at all costs, especially when you are in the wrong. Remember there is never justification for compromise. Bully and ridicule the other person in defeat until they admit fault.
  9. With your partner, make up a list of each other’s bad habits. Pin a weekly wall chart up to see who can add up the most irritating things about the other person. Go over the list on anniversaries and birthdays.
  10. Avoid vacations. If you do go away, do your duty and visit relatives. Always make sure the office can reach you quickly. Take your computer, cell and your admin’s home telephone number – in case you don’t hear from her or there’s no wifi.work stress
  11. Always over promise and under deliver. Say yes to everything. Commit yourself to impossible time lines. Of course, remember to do it all by yourself.
  12. Suffer in silence. Gain the maximum stress from a problem by trying to deal with it entirely on your own and always keep your worries to yourself.
  13. Dismiss other people’s offers of help. Show the world how independent you are. This is especially worthwhile when you are unwell. Always show up to work with a virus! The more unwell you feel, the more stoic you must be. Success is in complete physical and mental breakdown… and spreading the joy with colleagues.

To find happiness, review the above and do the opposite.

* Reduce your Stress with this Music

According to Inc Magazine, neuroscientists in the UK conducted a study on the top songs for reducing stress. Participants  attempted to solve difficult puzzles as quickly as possible while connected to sensors. The puzzles induced a certain level of stress, and participants listened to different songs while researchers measured brain activity as well as physiological states that included heart rate, blood pressure, and rate of breathing.

According to Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson of Mindlab International, which conducted the research, the top song produced a greater state of relaxation than any other music tested to date.

In fact, listening to that one song — “Weightless” — resulted in a striking 65 percent reduction in participants’ overall anxiety, and a 35 percent reduction in their usual physiological resting rates.

To read the rest of the article and download the other top 9 songs from Spotify follow this link.

Here it is #1

* Inspiration – For One Who is Exhausted

yellow rose in rain

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

~ John O’Donohue, from “Blessings”

There are some beautiful images and poignant phrases here to guide us to our Middle Ground.

May today be a day for slowing down and finding the joy within.

Let nature and our senses restore mind, body and spirit.

* Haiku – Settle in

nurture and restore

~

Take time to nurture

Settle in the here and now

Find Your Middle Ground

~

The next Restorative Yoga Workshop will be on Saturday August 15 at 10.30 am. If you are near Media, Pennsylvania, why not join me for some nurturing and nourishment for body mind and spirit. Check it out at Watts of Yoga.

* If you are new to this site, welcome!

To explore more about finding your middle ground, please click here.

* Stressed? Quick Tips to Nourish and Restore

stressed

When you notice your body and brain are no longer cooperating and you are looking blankly at a blank screen … What do you do?

When you notice that your mind is full of thoughts that jump from re-visiting the past and becoming anxious about the future … What do you do?

When you find yourself getting triggered easily and lashing out at others … what do you do?

Most of us have coping strategies that have become habits over time. These become our “go to” behaviors to deal with stress.

I know a number of people who will keep going, and push through. Telling themselves this is what is needed and there is no choice. Until they start to become ill and chronically fatigued from stress.

The following tips are inspired by the restorative yoga classes I teach, and my own ways to unwind and de-stress. They work, whether you need a time out at work, or a break from conflicting emotions, or are just plain exhausted.

When we are drained and depleted we disconnect from our inner sense of being.  We are so much in our heads we have lost connection with our body and spirit. The key to bring this connection back is to use our breath to come back to our body and ourselves. 

Mini Mindful Moments like these are quick and simple. Pharmaceutical companies and purveyors of alcohol might deliver a different message at this point, but these tips are inspired by yoga. They are free and don’t take much time!

restore at workTry any one of the following strategies and see which work best for you. Make them a regular practice whenever you find yourself feeling stressed and tense.

1. Let out a big sigh! As soon as you notice you are stressed and tense, there is something ready to be released. Very often I don’t realize how tense I am until I sigh. Its has an immediate affect. Take a big breath in through the nose and let it out with a sigh. Take as many as feels good to you,  and let the weight fall off those shoulders.

2. Take several deep breaths, allowing yourself to feel fresh energy entering your body and stale energy being released. “I renew with each inhale. I release with each inhale.”  If you can, try adding some movement with your breath by moving your arms out and up on the inhale and then down on the exhale.

3. Close your eyes and focus on your body. Scan parts of your body in your mind. Notice where there is contraction and some tension. As you notice it, imagine sending your breath there and let the area soften. Breathe into each tense area and be mindful of the relaxation taking place.

4. Stretch. Standing tall reach for the sky and come on to your toes. Breath fully all the way into your belly. Release your heels back down on an exhale and repeat as often as it feels good.

5. Place both hands just above your heart. This stimulates a mammalian parent response, and brings comfort. Soften the tops of your shoulders and let your belly become soft. Breathe into the warmth around your heart. Feel the soothing nature of this compassionate touch.

6. Put your feet up – literally. Try moving to a wall and then raising your legs and resting them on the wall.  Make yourself comfortable with a pillow under your neck. You can also lie on the floor and bring your legs over a chair and rest there.

7. Smell a favorite smell. It can be useful to carry an essential oil or scent with you. Experiment with a citrus scent, lavender, or mint to see what feels most refreshing.

8. Dim the lights and light a candle. Gives your eyes a rest from the screen or wherever you’ve been focusing. Let the soft light and flicker soothe you.

9. Lie down in a gentle back bend, with a pillow under your back and a blanket or pillow supporting your head. Allow your shoulders to relax. Feel your ribs and the space around your heart gently opening as you inhale and relax as you exhale. Rest here for several breaths.

10. Feel the ground. Take your shoes off. Notice the four corners of each foot and then wiggle your toes for a moment. Notice how your feet are making contact with the ground and imagine sending down roots through the soles of your feet and deep into the earth. As you inhale, imagine drawing up strength and nourishment through these roots and into your whole body.

I hope you enjoy these mindful moments to nourish and replenish.

* Tips for Handling the Highs and Lows of Life

I came across this list in a training manual for helping people manage their stress. I’m not sure who the originator is, but I would like to acknowledge Dr Laura Belsten and the Institute for Social + Emotional Intelligence for sharing it. Good stuff 🙂roller coaster

  1. Accept that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you are the statue.
  2. Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
  3. Drive carefully. Its not only cars that can be recalled to their maker.
  4. If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
  5. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
  6. Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.
  7. Since its the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.
  8. When everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.
  9. You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
  10. Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.
  11. We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all live in the same box.

riding roller coaster

So much wisdom for navigating life!

#7 caught my attention this morning…. Have fun with these 😎

* Breathe from your Middle Ground

I am recovering from a lingering cold which has zapped the energy for several days. Today I’m finally breathing better and feeling more like my self again. It makes me appreciate my ability to breathe even more!

I’ve written before about how our breath is connected with our wellbeing and emotional state. Noticing how we are breathing is a tool that we can use to monitor how we are doing.

There is an other pause that comes with our breath which is also revealing. The pause at the end of the exhale before we take in more air. When we are distracted, stressed or in an anxious state, there is no pause. We don’t trust we have enough air  and we don’t allow ourself to relax and let go.

Just take a moment to tune into how you are breathing right now. Just notice without judgment.

Breathe and relax

Pausing at the end of an exhale can only happen when we are relaxed and in tune with our mind and body. When our body and mind are aligned in the present moment.

This is what I do to check in with myself. Its a great yardstick on my level of relaxation to life in that moment.

Are you rushing in the air and holding on before letting go? Gasping in!

Are you afraid to let go on the exhale? Holding on!

Or are you aware of a special silent space. This is when you realize that there is no rush… Where you can rest in this pause that takes you past the fear of not enough to the realization that there is more than enough. This is often a place of struggle … which can be transformed to a place of peace and inner expansion.

Its impossible to try to do it. It requires being relaxed and open to let it happen.

To become relaxed, take several full diaphragmatic breaths. Breath in through your nose and let yourself release with a sigh on the exhale.

Keep breathing deeply.

Allow your shoulders to relax. Allow your belly to soften.

Release effort and allow your body to absorb the energy and nourishment.

Notice any tension and imagine sending your breath there to let it release and flow.

Imagine you are softening your whole body and mind … almost like melting.

Now see if you can allow yourself to pause and rest at the end of the exhale… without any effort whatsoever.

Just for a moment, be with this stillness and spaciousness. Trust that it is always within you.

Namaste