practice

The Challenge and Miracle of Self-Care

I don't know about your mind, but mine is super-busy and it is easy for me to get distracted – and this has only increased as I get older and as technology has become such a part of my daily life. You probably have heard the expression "monkey-mind", our thoughts constantly jumping from one thing to another.

In addition to my active thinking, I am often distracted by various body sensations – pain, fatigue, and more as the result of my stem cell transplant almost 15 years ago. And even without that, I remember when the recurring sore back or strep throat would occupy center stage in my attention.

I have had a daily yoga practice for decades – at this point the practice involves minimal moving and more breathing, chanting, gesture, and meditation. I am repeatedly surprised to see how hard it is for me to settle into my practice at the times I need it the most. I have a few tricks to help myself with this, but I know it is a common phenomenon. (Those tricks and the options besides yoga for a daily practice are for another time.)

But when I can connect my body and mind to my breath or sound, amazing things begin to happen. I will spare you the science of what occurs, but here are my direct experiences:

  • My body relaxes and tension begins to lessen or even disappear.
  • My relationship to my pain begins to change and and my anxiety or fear decreases.
  • My breath slows down.
  • My entire being feels like it is having a massage from the inside out.
  • My sense of my place in the universe comes into perspective and the size of my distractions seems to shrink.
  • My attitude towards myself and the world is reset so that I feel calm(er), kind(er), and more compassionate.

So even though my body and mind may resist getting to my yoga practice, I am always glad that I did. There is no single method or practice that is right for everyone, but yoga has definitely been right for me. I would love to hear what works for you.

 

 

 

Why Bother with a Personal Practice?

Any day is wonderful time to start or restart a personal daily practice or activity that helps us to connect and align body, mind, and spirit. A personal practice can take just a few minutes – it need not be long or elaborate. The practice might consist of focused breathing, yoga, guided imagery, prayer, or even dancing. The focus is being present with your attention directed toward the experience of this moment. In doing this, we can both explore and cultivate our intention(s) for both the near term and the future.

For me the technique of choice is yoga, which includes breath, movement, sound, and meditation – and not necessarily all of these elements in any practice. What technique might work for you?

And I remind myself, if I miss a practice on any particular day, be kind and forgiving.  It is okay. Today is a new day and we can begin again – that is why we call it a "practice".