Most of us start off exercise routines at the beginning of a New Year and then we struggle to hold on to it. We struggle to make space in our hectic lives for exercises, other things take over our priorities. So if you are like most people – chances are … you fell off the bandwagon. You skipped a few days, maybe even a few weeks and then hopefully you got back to it.
One way to get the most out of any exercise routine is to do it in short intense routines. In case of yoga, that means you hold your poses just a little bit longer. Now if you are struggling to hold your poses, then THIS is just the right thing for you.
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Let’s face it, it’s been about 8/9 weeks since your new year resolution to work on a healthier, skinnier you… and now your motivation is waning. Gym is boring. Food is interesting. You are cheating… with yourself.
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” – Dalai Lama
Fact is most of us will not realize the value of good health until our body or mind or both quits on us.
In our hyper-active, hyper-connected modern life, we are so busy being busy that finding the time and energy to exercise, eat right, engage in activities that reduce the inevitable stress that arises from such a hectic lifestyle should be a top priority in ALL of our lives.
So what can you do when you don’t have time to take care of yourself? Here’s a short list which you can customize and adapt to your own routine. Six non-sweat easy tips and One that encourages you to sweat it out 😉
First thing in the morning when you open your eyes, in the space before thoughts invade and the to-do list in your head starts ticking. Stop. Breathe. Practice gratitude.
Be grateful that you are alive.
In your bed and not a hospital.
Be grateful for being able to breathe without assistance.
Some days I am so depressed that I find it difficult to find things to be grateful for. Yet I know that I am incredibly blessed. So on my bleak days, I decide to be grateful for little things, like breathing, reading, books, the fact that I can walk without pain or that I still have all of my teeth. Whatever floats your boat… just find something to be grateful for and sincerely concentrate on that blessing.
Take a few minutes and meditate. There are many ways to meditate. You can chant, concentrate, visualize, play the singing bowl, flute or a guided meditation CD … whichever method works for you. Again, if you are not the kind that can sit cross-legged on the floor with your hands on your knees, don’t. If walking on the grass in the backyard works for you, do.
Meditating is about centering yourself. Connecting to the here and now. To be present. It’s the deepest part of you that remains unruffled through the storm of life. It stores your energy, your resilience. Connect and appreciate yourself.
You can create a daily routine to help get yourself into the mindset to meditate or you can take a few minutes through out the day to practice it as you need it. It’s like taking a smoke-break for smokers. Instead of getting off your desk to go smoke, you take a few minutes to breathe and center your mind.
When you cheat on your diet or worry obsessively or simply don’t get around to doing any of the above… don’t worry .. there’s still something that you can do to keep yourself healthy. You can sleep. Not the tossing & turning kind of sleep but a real good night’s sleep. Empty your bedroom of all electronic devices, specifically the TV and make it the kind of haven that you need to truly relax in. If darkness is your thing, install double blinds or get a light blinder for yourself. If you are a light sleeper, put on some white noise to reduce outside interruptions to your sleep cycle. Whatever else you might cheat on… don’t cheat yourself from getting a good night’s rest. Make it routine & a habit to go to bed at a fixed time. Cheating throughout the week and making up for it by sleeping in on the weekend, doesn’t work.
No matter how blue I am .. I usually feel a whole lot better after I have managed to get a good snooze. It has helped me hang on to my sanity on days I want to blow my top 😉
Hug the person next to you. Hug before you leave home. Hug when you get home. Hug your colleagues if you share that kind of relationship. Hug your friends when you see them. A 20 second hug releases oxytocin, nature’s anti-depressant and anti-anxiety hormone.
Find something to laugh about throughout the day. If not a belly laughter at least smile through out the day, even when you don’t feel like it. Try it. You can’t smile and hold on to anger, depression, anxiety, stress. It’s just not possible. The physical effect of putting on a smile or laughing, transforms negative emotions & releases happy hormones. So go on .. laugh at yourself, or if all fails, laugh at all the cute animal videos on YouTube 😉
Write it out:
Put aside 20 minutes at the end of the day, sit down comfortably and write. Don’t think about what to write or how to write. Just write. Whatever is on your mind. Forget about spellings and grammatical errors. Suspend that grammar nazi in you. Just write.
Write about whatever is running through your head. Whatever is clouding your emotions. Whatever is nagging at the back of your mind that keeps you up tossing and turning. Take up a pen and paper and write it out.
Get moving and feel that blood flowing through your veins. If working out at the gym is not your thing, try a different activity … yoga, competitive sport, dancing, start walking to the store, running to your chores, parking farthest at the parking lot…. if nothing else, walk back home from work, at least part of the way. Again, whatever floats your boat, as long as you are being active for at least 20 minutes every day, the kind of active that raises your heart beat.
So time to get on that band-wagon of new year resolution to achieve a healthier you. If you are tired of sweating it out without seeing some results that motivate you to continue… I suggest practicing the first six tips vigorously 😉
Recently I joined a meditation retreat. It was more like the halfway house of meditation retreat. All of the rules of a retreat but no strict enforcement. Since quite a few of the participants were first timers, the relaxed setting made it easier for people to assimilate to the environment.
So why did I join the retreat?
My life has been so hectic this year that I have been acutely feeling the need to unplug. Literally. I checked out 2 temples in Nepal to go on a private retreat. Unfortunately both were booked on month-long programs that are ongoing. Remember that saying “when you want something badly enough, the universe conspires to help you receive it?” well… I found a retreat all right and it was right here in Bangladesh.
So not only did I get to go on the retreat… I got to take my mom with me. Yes, my mom. We haven’t always had the best of relationship but recently we have been doing better. In fact, this year has probably been the best for us. The retreat gave us a great opportunity to spend quality time with each other and to see a side of us that we don’t usually get to. I know she’s done the quantum meditation course and she really loved it. She knows that I have done Butthan meditation and I really loved it. So this was another kind that we both got to try together.
We had a Thai Monk leading the sessions and it was lovely. He mostly used the visualization technique and had hilarious little anecdotes that he shared with us. For example, when his dad meditates, he imagines that he’s got a crystal hanging like a pendulum from his head, all the way down, inside his body to his navel. And during the meditation session, he would try to balance that pendulum and sometimes he would be swaying a little in his balancing attempt. The visualization in my head of that scene had me cracking up for the rest of the day.
So we all have this expectation of what we hope to get out of meditation and I was no exception. I wanted to come away remembering once again how to smile with every single cell of my body. Generally I am a pretty happy person. I have a great life, I love my job and my colleagues. I enjoy my studies and my various volunteer roles. So it’s a full, busy life that I find very satisfying. But this year which has flown past me was really starting to get to me.
So yeah, I sat in my sessions, willing myself to find that happiness inside again. And here’s the funny thing, on the last day, in the last session, I had this vivid sensation that I was a fat, happy, cat who is purring away against my own leg. Sated, satisfied and just HAPPY! I opened my eyes and I could still feel myself, happily purring away. It felt soooooooooooooo good! It’s been months since I have felt good enough to want to go dancing all night.
Yesterday, the visualization that worked for me is of being a wild horse. My thoughts were all over the place, the to-do list kept running through my head. I had to keep coaxing my mind to slow down that runaway horse. After some time, I could feel that horse standing still. It was black and beautiful… almost majestic! with soft full mane and a lovely long tail and I knew it was me. Now how can you not smile at that? I think I fell asleep with that picture in my head.
So I have gone from constant rushing – office, university, home, assignments, reports, presentations, workshops, never-ending to-do lists running through my head – to chilling out, breathing, being mindful and more present. I had started walking on the treadmill again, the retreat inspired me to add yoga to my routine.
I just love the fact that I am from a continent that has a rich history of health practices – yoga, meditation, martial arts, herbal medicines… you name it and we probably started it and there’s such a wide variety of activity to pick from to get healthy, stay healthy, cope with stress, it’s freaking amazing!
The next retreat is in February 2015, somewhere in Thailand. I am not sure if I am going to be there. But I am pretty sure that I will be doing another retreat, somewhere, sometime. If you would like to check out the peace rebels… head over to their website here: https://peacerevolution.net/docs/en/peace-revolution
Peace in … Peace out…. 🙂