Let’s face it, life can be pretty hectic and overwhelming. Whether it’s being faced with work nonstop or feeling like you can never get through your daily tasks, it always seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all while also making sure to get a proper night’s sleep. As much as this is a common reality, we will all be better if we practice taking a daily pause to center ourselves and calm our racing thoughts.
This doesn’t mean giving up hours of our day to meditation. In fact, even five minutes can help refocus our energy and mind to make us even more productive.
“As a meditation practitioner and teacher, I love to incorporate movement within my meditations because it creates a deeper connection between our minds and our bodies in a gentle and rhythmic way,” explains Julie Skon, a multi-modality healing practitioner, life coach and global meditation teacher. “And it also gives results.” From hand placement to posture and breathing, the MY RITUELLE founder, whose new book RISE: Mini Morning Meditations will be out on June 20, shares a few very simple ways to put the mind at ease while also working on the core.
“One practice that is beneficial for the core and also has a relaxing effect is to sit straight up, place your hands on your abdomen and with your inhales feel yourself filling your belly with air. As you exhale, tighten your core abdominal muscles as you slowly release your breath. For added benefit and stress reduction, pause and hold your breath for a few seconds at the top and bottom of your breath. This stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system and has a calming effect on your mind and body.”
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“One of my favorite calming techniques that can be done anytime and anywhere is vagal breathing. This type of breathwork stimulates the vagus nerve which communicates with our body to stabilize and release stress, creating an almost immediate calming.
“For vagal breathing, slowly inhale through your nose to the count of four while you fill your abdomen with air and then slowly exhale through your mouth releasing all of the air for at least six seconds. Experiment with counts that work for you. Some people love an inhale for two, exhale for four. For added benefit include a pause (holding your breath) between your inhales and exhales for a couple of seconds.
“A breath cycle could look like: inhale as you count in your mind to four, hold for the count of two, slowly exhale for six, hold for two (and repeat). I love to incorporate this breath with movement making it cyclical on a walk or with relaxing stretching at home at the end of the day.”
“When I feel that my mind is racing, I slow it down by placing my hands together at the center of my chest. It looks like your hands are in prayer position and what is occurring is that you are balancing the right and left hemispheres of your brain, bringing your focus within and calming your mind and body.
“For this practice, set an intention for the moment (to relax, to be present, to connect, etc). Place your hands together at the center of your chest, close your eyes and you slowly inhale and raise your hands up above your head, separate your palms and slowly exhale as you allow your arms to widen and draw a circle on each side of you. Bring your palms back together at the center of your chest and repeat until you feel a more calming shift within.”
These practices can be done at any point during the day, but Skon recommends “starting the morning out calm and slow to help ensure that the day will follow in a more stress-free way.” Maybe that means not reaching for your phone first thing or turning on the television. She also suggests reading The 5AM Club by Robin Sharma, which taught her the importance of creating a conscious morning routine. Says Skon, “For me, that looks like waking up at least 30 minutes before my daughters, having time for a ‘beditation’ where I meditate in bed in the quiet and then have time to get creative and write.”
If it seems impossible to wake up earlier, try slowing down the rush of the morning. Enjoy your shower, pour coffee mindfully, take some deep breaths and be in the moment. It is amazing how a few mindful moments set the tone for the day.
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