Author: Larry Mager
Readybrain.net | firstname.lastname@example.org
We all want to lead healthy lives and feel good about ourselves. Having positive habits is an effective way to make that happen. Better still, you don't need radical change to see results.
Know Your Environment
One of the first steps we can take is understanding the root causes of poor health; of course, drinking, smoking, and diet are common reasons for illness. Yet, not getting enough sleep and being inactive can also take their toll on our bodies and minds. Worse, our own homes could contain hazards that can make us sick, so it's important to know if your home contains radon, lead, or mold since these can seriously impact your health. When it comes to mold, water issues and poor ventilation can intensify the problem and even lead to pest infestations. By being aware of your environment and addressing any issues, you can better protect your health.
Unfortunately, it can be easy to lose sight of things to be grateful for. Our day-to-day routines can put our focus on stressful situations and leave us overwhelmed. Thankfully, we can counter that with acts of mindfulness throughout the day. In particular, practicing gratitude encourages us to be more aware of the positives in our lives. In fact, even writing down everything that we are thankful for, both big and small, can meaningfully raise our emotional well-being. How you practice mindfulness will be personal and could be as simple as watching birds from your porch.
Find Your Peace
Taking up meditation may sound impractical, particularly as our daily lives can be hectic or full of distractions. Yet, you don't need to spend hours in silent contemplation to see the health benefits, as just three to five minutes of meditation can be a promising start. Over time, you could experiment with different styles to find the one that works for you. With that in mind, consider devoting a part of your home to meditate and center your thoughts in peace. Indeed, an office, attic, even a bedroom, can be transformed with plants, calming pictures, and spiritual objects. Once you have a place set up, you can practice meditation, yoga, or otherwise explore your soul in a spiritually uplifting environment.
Speak Your Mind
Being true and open about our feelings can give us new outlooks and strengthen our relationships. Unfortunately, we may worry about being judged or becoming vulnerable with others, even loved ones. Yet, sharing our thoughts can improve self-esteem and turn negativity into something psychologically positive. For instance, the Reintegration System emphasizes the importance of not fighting negativity, but facing and accepting it. Through that, you transform it and potentially find benefits from it. By speaking up, you acknowledge what you are going through and give yourself the confidence to move forward.
Nourish Your Health
Pursuing a healthier emotional and physical lifestyle will benefit from nutritious food. After all, a balanced diet can boost our hearts, protect us from strokes and cancer, and counter the symptoms of depression. Best of all, changing up our diets doesn't mean eating bland meals or spending a lot of time in the kitchen. At the least, add plenty of vegetables, nuts, fruits, eggs, and fish in place of processed foods and sugar-heavy drinks. While that might sound pretty intense, there are countless recipes featuring those ingredients that can be done in less than 30 minutes. Beyond those changes, look to a dietician for further advice, as they may have information specific to your needs.
Being healthier doesn't happen overnight. However, taking small steps to change your diet, find peace and calm, and appreciate the good in your life can all add up. You deserve the rewards that come with a more uplifting lifestyle.
Our senses control our emotions and therefore our lives. We cannot escape from the perceptions created by the senses and our conscious life is ruled by them. As a result our mind is always in a flux, and happiness eludes us. To achieve lasting joy and happiness we must access our subconscious. When we are awake our mind is busy reacting to the feelings created by the senses and therefore it becomes impossible to listen to our inner voice or subconscious. Yoga Nidra or Psychic Sleep is a practice where the senses are subdued and our conscious mind can directly access the subconscious.
Yoga Nidra is derived from two words - Yoga means single pointed awareness and Nidra is sleep. During the practice of Yoga Nidra, you seem to be sleeping, but your mind functions at a deeper level of awareness. Wolfgang von Goethe used the inspirations and intuitions from this state to solve problems arising in his work. In dreams occurring in this state, discoverer of benzene ring realized the circular structure from the image of a serpent eating its own tail. Bohr saw the structure of the atom in his dreams, and Einstein propounded the theory of relativity.
Practicing Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra is a guided practice which generally lasts for twenty to forty minutes, depending on whether you are a beginner or an advanced practitioner. You have to listen to instructions and follow them mechanically without thinking about the logic and rationale behind the instructions. You must suspend critical thinking. You can listen to a recording of guided Yoga Nidra.
During the first stage of Yoga Nidra the mind is focused on external sounds. If all sensory impressions are forcibly excluded, the mind becomes restless and disturbed. Therefore, the mind is directed towards external sounds. You have to listen to the external sounds and move from one source to another. Your attitude should be that of a witness. After some time the mind slowly withdraws from the outside stimuli and automatically becomes quiet.
Resolve or sankalpa
During this stage you must think of a resolve or sankalpa. Your resolve should be precise and clear, otherwise it will not penetrate the subconscious mind. The resolve can be anything as long as it’s not frivolous. Once you have chosen a sankalpa you must not change to another. Don’t expect results overnight. Time is required depending on the nature of the resolve and the degree to which it is planted in the mind. The result depends on your sincerity and deep felt need to attain the goal of your sankalpa.
Rotation of consciousness
The next stage is rapid rotation of consciousness through the different parts of the body. The rotation of consciousness in Yoga Nidra proceeds in a definite sequence, beginning with the right thumb and ending with the little toe of the right foot; rotation from the left thumb to the little toe of the left foot. Subsequent rotations proceed from the heel to the back of the head, and from the head and individual facial features back to the legs.
Awareness of the breath
After these rotations of consciousness have been completed, physical relaxation is continued and completed by drawing attention to the breath. In this practice one simply maintains awareness of the breath; there should be no attempt to force or change it. One may watch the breath in the nostrils, in the chest, or in the passage between the navel and the throat.
Ending the practice
The practice of Yoga Nidra ends by repeating your resolve. This direct order from the conscious mind to the unconscious enables you to radically change your attitude, behavior and destiny. It is very important that the resolve be stated clearly and positively. This will give the mind strength and a positive outlook. You should have sincere faith in the resolve. This faith strengthens the effect of the resolve on the unconscious mind, so that the resolve will become a reality in your life.
The practice of Yoga Nidra is concluded by gradually bringing the mind from the condition of psychic sleep to the waking state.
If you ever tried meditation, chances are that you struggled to keep your mind quiet. Even if you are an experienced meditator, you know what I'm talking about. The moment you close your eyes, your mind becomes flooded with thoughts. You start thinking about the past, make plans for the future, become annoyed by the impossible task of calming down the stream of thoughts. You discover that your mind is crowded like the Times Square… The thoughts come running, one after another. Even if you try do disengage and maintain the attitude of the mere observer, you get carried away in a train of thoughts.
Although the ancient Yogis spent hours of their time meditating, they knew well the problem of calming down the thoughts. Essentially, Yoga is an ancient technology of gaining control over the mind – not an easy task to accomplish! A great Indian sage, Swami Vivekananda compared the mind to a relentless monkey, jumping from one tree to another from dawn till dusk. Its nature is to remain in constant motion.
Luckily, there is an excellent tool for slowing down the thoughts – the pranayama.
Anchor your breath
Simply put, pranayamas are the Yogic breathing techniques. They have multiple health benefits, such as increasing the lung capacity and reducing the heart rate, but their main goal is to influence the mind. The pace of your thoughts and the rhythm of your breath are inseparably connected. You can easily experience it on your own. When you are active and agitated, you breathe faster and think faster. On the contrary, when you deeply relax or even become drowsy your breath slows down greatly.
Scientifically speaking, the mechanism of the influence of your breath on the thinking is also mediated by the cardiac system. There is a mechanism of natural arrhythmia: during your every exhalation, your heart beats a little bit slower than during the inhalation. In fact, you can control your heart rate and slow it down by making your exhalations longer. That’s why there is a great emphasis of slowing down the breath cycle in pranayama.
Concentrating on your breath and slowing it down, you automatically become more focused. The slower you breathe, the less thoughts come to your mind. You become less distracted. Your mind calms down, and slowly, slowly... you reach a state of meditation.
Your first Pranayama practice
How to begin with pranayamas? You can start with a basic, simple exercise.
Sit with your back straight in a meditative position. You can put a folded blanket or a cushion under your pelvic bones, to make keeping your spine straight easier.
Bring your concentration to the breath.
Try to be deeply aware of what does it feel like to breathe...
Feel the movement of the air in your nostrils. Notice that the air you exhale is a little bit warmer.
Feel the movement of your chest and your abdomen. Feel, how your shoulders move a little bit upwards with every inhalation and downwards with every exhalation.
Once you become focused, start slowing down your breath: make every exhalation twice longer than the exhalation. Although the sensation may be a little strange in the beginning, you will get accustomed to it. After a short training, exhaling twice longer will become effortless. If you feel short of breath or dizzy, it means that you are pushing yourself too far. Be gentle with yourself and patient – the progress will come with time.
Enjoy the calming effect the pranayama has on your mind. Notice, that with the control of the breath there are much fewer annoying thoughts coming to your mind and it’s much easier to mediate.
You can use your breath not only for meditation. It can be of great benefit in your everyday life as well. Every time I want to get focused, or when I do something demanding high precision, I switch on my breath awareness. It immediately gets me in the zone.
You can train your breath awareness even while performing your household chores. When doing the dishes or cleaning up your apartment, try shifting your attention to your breath. Notice that it does not make the work more difficult – on the contrary, you become much more focused and relaxed at the same time. You can coordinate the movements of your hands and body with inhalations and exhalations, turning your weekly cleanup into a Tai Chi practice…
Use your breath. It can be a tremendous tool, if taken care of properly.
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