Wait - you're telling me I need to go and lie down?!
Why yes, yes I am telling you that! And here's why...
1. To train our nervous system
We are not supposed to live in constant 'fight or flight' more and yet many of us do. Even if our mind doesn't feel the stress, the constant notifications and screens of today's modern life makes for a stressed, switched on body that forgets how to truly relax. When was the last time you actually did nothing? And I don't mean TV or reading or trying to get to sleep. I mean, a deep relaxation practice where you just be and breathe?
Our bodies remembers the feelings and events that our minds forget. We become anxious and exhausted and that can then make rest and relaxation even more challenging. Are you a busy-a-holic? We keep ourselves busy, doing more and more, because we don't want to feel. Slowly, kindly and compassionately creating space for your mind and body to relax is then a necessary practice; we are so unused to it, and yet it's what we so desperately need.
Remember, your mind, body and nervous system only operate in the way they do as they have adapted to get you through. And that might be some really tough stuff. Honour that. Connect and get help if you need a professional to help you process that. It's ok.
2. Some themes and tips for R&R
Find contentment and connection in your current life. Stop waiting for the house move, the job promotion, the kids to grow up, the pandemic to end. Crises in life happen; don't put off your well-being to deal with after life has happened. You can create more contentment and connection in your life now. It doesn't mean giving up on your goals and dreams, but just taking more moments to appreciate where you are now as a beautiful stage in the journey. This also gives us more permission to rest; it's not a constant strive and struggle.
Plan your rest and take responsibility for your time. You do not have to run out of time for R&R. Schedule it in - you only need two minutes. Be responsible for your time; no matter how busy you are, you are still in control of what you prioritise and what you spend your time doing.
Embrace simplicity. You don't need the latest acupressure mat, whole room devoted to yoga, fancy clothes, candles or scents. Start with where you're at with what you've got. Use your bed or the sofa. If you have no garden, go outside and go for a walk or simply look up at the sky and notice. Breathe. You don't need to over-complicate this. You can find rest with what you've got around you right now - give yourself permission.
Realise and notice when a results-orientated culture is not helpful. Is the little inner voice whispering that this is a waste of time? That you should be doing this? In a society where we value productivity and getting things done, this is a common response. I have told myself this story many a time! But you are allowed to rest. You are worthy of rest. You do not need to work for it or earn it.
3. Relaxation practices
This is what our relaxation challenge is based upon - have a look below! These are some ideas to cultivate a daily and weekly deep restful practice:
Micro-moments of stillness - sit or lie down, close your eyes and breathe. Add a hand to heart or belly to increase the connection to your breath. Set a timer if you're worried about falling asleep! And if you do fall asleep - maybe your body is trying to tell you something!
Guided meditations - you do not need to head to the mountains or sit on the floor to do this. There are so many different types and voices out there that you are bound to find one that suits you! My favourite apps are Headspace, Insight Timer, Calm, and Stop, Breathe & Think, but YouTube is also awash with ones you can try.
Restorative poses - use props to allow your body to deeply relax. You trust to time and gravity to slowly release and you follow your breath as you stay in the pose. One of my favourites!
Binaural beats - these are two frequencies of sound layered over the top of each other. You must wear headphones or earphones to listen. Try combining these with some of the other practices!
Tapping - this is my current favourite. Also know as EFT or emotional freedom tapping, I use it in an evening before bed. The Tapping Solution app is a great place to start. You simply gently tap using your fingertips on different places on your body.
Breathing practices - some deeply soothing breath practices that I use (and teach in my classes) are resonance breathing, box breathing and alternate nostril breathing. Your breath is a very strong signal to your body and mind as to whether you are safe and can rest - or not.
Yoga Nidra - also known as yogic sleep. You'll need a little longer for this practice e.g. 20 minutes and you usually do this lying down and listening to the prompts. It's said to be equivalent to deep sleep for the body!
Want to try some of these? You can join the relaxation challenge - and you only need a couple of minutes a day! It's 7 days starting initially on 6th February (and available to members at any time after that!). Join in and complete all 7 days and you'll be entered into a prize draw to win some rest & relaxation goodies - don't forget to tag me on social media using @theplanharrogate so I can see your relaxation practice!
Join the challenge on social media or here on the Wix app: http://wix.to/w8BaDJs?ref=2_cl
Members can also join in in their member's area!
Log on here: www.theplanharrogate.com/the-plan-insider