We may be in a new year, but we’re still dealing with the same hardships and loss, the same challenges, as we were before. With 2022 upon us, we want to take the moment to reset and consider what each of us can do to heal in the year to come. You have probably already been barraged with information about how to envision your ideal year, create goals, stick to resolutions, lose weight, be happier, and many more. It gets overwhelming, right?
Inner peace is imaginable, and you don’t need to deliberate on a mountaintop or go broke for a wellness retreat in order to find it. Making time to relax is lovely, but it’s amid the frenetic pace of everyday life is when we need tranquillity the most.
Have you ever noticed the ocean? The tides bring the drama when it crashes against the shore, but if you were to explore deeper onto its depth, you will find a tranquil world of creatures moving at their own pace, completely unaware of the turbulence happening on the surface.
Most of us live on the surface of the waves, with the noise and turbulence. What we fail to remember is that this this deep, calm, awareness is actually within each one of us. And we can find it by consistently working with our creative fires.
These illustrate self-expression through movement, sound, writing, and art as ways to release your feelings, clear your mind, raise your spirits, and bring yourself into higher states of consciousness. The process is therapeutic when you spend some time regularly in your creative realm.
Even a few mindful minutes makes for a calmer, more focused mind, a richer sense of appreciation for yourself & others, greater health & wellbeing in your body and a more meaningful life. It’s a series of small, subtle shifts make the biggest and longest lasting changes like mindfully connecting with your body in the present moment.
This embodied meditation can be practiced with the regularity and intention that will help in deepening the neuropathways of peace. It can be done on the go, sitting on a park bench, on your mat before yoga class, while taking a break from work or a stressful confrontation or in “your meditation spot, (a simple home altar holding images, flowers, or quotes that inspire you).
You might close your eyes and relax turning inwards.
Step 1: Stance
Sit upright so your spine is as straight as possible without strain or rigidity. Check that your weight is even on both sit bones or feet, that your spine is erect but not rigid and that your chest is open. Resting the palms easefully face down on the thighs reinforces a sense of grounding into the here and now.
Step 2: Mindful body scan
First, notice what you notice, feeling your breath and your heartbeat, the aliveness of the physical sensation of skin on clothing. Get inquisitive and see what sensations are alive for you right now. Next, move systematically from the feet upward to the head, noticing areas of tension, numbness, vitality, areas that feel like they are holding emotions- just notice without any judgements.
Permit yourself to meet your inner landscape as opposed to judging or changing it. Being non-judgemental, keeps us committed to the process.
Step 3: Breath Scan
Place one hand on your heart and one on your belly and notice the quality of your breath: is it smooth or jagged, long or slow, even length of inhale and exhale, where does it enter first? No need to change anything- for now, the value is in the noticing. Through this simple act of respectful mindfulness, we begin to notice the signs of stress and ease throughout our day.
Step 4: Grounding
With each breath think of your feet, legs & pelvis growing roots into the floor and beyond. Use your physical body to reinforce this sense of grounded stability by pressing your hands onto your feet and thighs if seated. Next, assure that you are rooted by fully and completely tensing & squeezing every muscle of your lower body. For a full body-mind reset squeeze as tight as you safely can! Hold for 5-10 seconds and then let everything go on an exhale, revelling in the relief. Repeat 1-4 times.
Step 5: Deep Breathing
Create congruence in the body by giving an even count to both the inhale and the exhale, pausing gently at the top and bottom of the breath, with a 2-4 count inhale/exhale. Placing the hands on your belly here will ensure you are not just chest breathing but a deeper full breath arising from your belly.
Step 6: Tune into Gratitude & Smile Inwardly
Acknowledge a deep sense of appreciation through your body. Thank your body, perhaps offering an affirmation of gratitude like “I’m grateful for my health and wellbeing” Thank your life, the Goddess/God/Source or the Universe. Or simply think of something or someone who you love immensely, and let that sense of warmth gently lift the corners of your mouth and eyes. Let gratitude bring the lift of an inner smile to your belly, your chest and your whole inner body so that you feel la sense of warmth all over.
Step 7: Allow an intention to arise
This might be the intention for the next ten minutes or hour (‘I am safe’, ‘I am present in my body’), it might be a larger intention for your month or year (‘I am energized, motivated and focused’) or a life intention (‘I exude gratitude wherever I go,’, ‘I offer my gifts through my work’, ‘my life is simple and joyful’). In the yogic world we call this Sankulpa, it’s not a goal but the energy behind a goal.
This is the step that creates magic. Words have much power. This is a practice that takes time to seamless so be persistent.
Step 8: Sealing it in the body with touch
While inwardly reiterating your intent, rub your scalp or face, rub your hands in a circle on your belly or squeeze out neck and jaw tension at the tops of your shoulders. Take your time to offer your body love, reassurance, pleasure and self-care.
This step continues to deepen the breath, draws you into your body and out of your head and sends a message of belongingness to the cells. Over time, you may prefer to substitute or add sound or simple movement here.
Remember, it’s small subtle shifts that make the biggest and longest lasting change. Take five minutes several times a week (or day) to feel better in your body and remember why you are here.
I’ll end this with a quote – “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” – Rumi