Guest blogger, Helena Ellis Sweet is a true friend and person. Kindhearted, wholesome and absolutely brilliant, she very generously shared this piece she wrote about practicing mindfulness and its importance in our life as we confront today’s stress-filled world. Helena embodies mindfulness. Her wisdom and altruism are apparent in everything she does. I feel very fortunate to call her my friend and hope to be able to share more of her infinite knowledge with you in the future (I can promise at least one more piece!). Thank you, Helena for sharing your writing.
Have a lovely weekend, my friends!
Much love and happiness,
Why You Need Mindfulness Now More Than Ever
By Helena Ellis Sweet
of Helena Sweet Yoga and Little Bird Yoga in Northwest Connecticut
Call it a financial era of unstable markets, a time of global political uncertainties or the age of the third chakra. Whatever you call it, this is time of great stress. Added to our lives is the thrust of rapidly increasing news cycles and unprecedented global connectivity. Keeping up with it all and the general expectations of daily life can feel overwhelming.
Taking simple steps to make you more mindful might just be what you need. Mindfulness works, not only because it reminds you to be in the moment and slows your world down, but actually changes the way your brain reacts to stress. When you are mindful you are engaging the same parts of your brain, the frontal lobe, that are responsible for clear, calm decision making. Yes, breathe and relax. You are already improving your brain.
The idea is to switch from routine to ritual. Not doing to get through or to get done, but to do with purpose. This doesn’t require you that sit on a cushion and meditate all day (but that also has its benefits), but to make simple changes to your daily life so that you tune in more.
Take a look at your environment and create one that makes you happy and connected.
Simple step for the end of winter:
There is a reason why Scandinavians spend so much money on candles. Add light to the dark. We are hardwired to be drawn to light. Get your candles and embrace your inner Hygge. (This is a fun wormhole to go down. There are many books and articles on the Danish practice of coziness.)
Simples practice for the end winter:
Alternate nostril breathing
Here is how you do alternate nostril breathing:
- Take a comfortable and tall seat, making sure your spine is straight and your heart is open.
- Relax your left palm comfortably into your lap and bring your right hand just in front of your face.
- With your right hand, bring your pointer finger and middle finger to rest between your eyebrows, lightly using them as an anchor. The fingers we’ll be actively using are the thumb and ring finger.
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out through your nose.
- Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through the left nostril slowly and steadily.
- Close the left nostril with your ring finger so both nostrils are held closed; retain your breath at the top of the inhale for a brief pause.
- Open your right nostril and release the breath slowly through the right side; pause briefly at the bottom of the exhale.
- Inhale through the right side slowly.
- Hold both nostrils closed (with ring finger and thumb).
- Open your left nostril and release breath slowly through the left side. Pause briefly at the bottom.
- Repeat 5-10 cycles, allowing your mind to follow your inhales and exhales.
Steps 5-9 represent one complete cycle of alternate nostril breathing. If you’re moving through the sequence slowly, one cycle should take you about 30-40 seconds. Move through 5-10 cycles when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or in need of a reset button.
Add more self-care practices to your routine.
Simple practices for winter:
Use infused body oils before you shower.
This is an ancient Indian practice. Simply apply oils to the skin, sesame or another heavy oil is best for winter, and then shower, letting the oils absorb with the heat. Your skin and frontal lobe will thank you for this one.
Start here and see what happens. There are many great resources on mindfulness and the power of slowing down.
Enjoy the end of winter.