Stillness is defined by a lack of movement. What is calm and still in nature moves slowly or not at all, with a vastness and consistency that humbles as much as it inspires. I look at the stolid dependability of a tree or a boulder and remember that we have much to learn about life from these objects that we write off as lifeless. Charlie Ambler
In these stressful times where many of us are in unimaginable lockdown situations, with the loss of jobs or far more than usual and trying to do it at home with kids running around, where we are juggling homeschooling, relationships, not able to visit loved ones, being alone, fear, financial insecurity, ill health, anxiety, the unknown finding stillness inside is nigh on impossible.
So take the pressure of yourself if you feel you should be meditating 24 hours a day and remaining calm and poised.
I feel my emotions are running wild. They are ruling every decision I make. They are provoking old behaviours and responses to resurface. It’s exhausting and disempowering and not making me proud of myself. My body is responding to the stress. Every cell is screaming in suffering. The pain in my heart is real and physical and my hands are drawn to touch it and soothe it to help release my trapped breath. I am applying a heart chakra essential oil mix and massaging it in regularly.You will find me hopping regularly onto my yoga mat to practice heart opening yoga asanas in an attempt to reground.
What I want, what I need in my heart, is to find a simple stillness within me and be able to bring that to the surface when I feel the spiral igniting in my body.
Sometimes I achieve this and mainly I don’t. That is when I realize how hard on myself I am and how hard I have always been on myself. I would never treat a friend like I treat myself.
Note to self; be kind to me.
So how can we find that elusive stillness so many of us are seeking in this busy, noise polluted world?
Meditation, my friends.
Breathe-work, my friends.
Nature, my friends.
Deliberately switching off from social media, my friends.
Choosing to be silent, my friends.
Sitting still with no other agenda than to be, my friends.
yoga and particularly yoga nidra, my friends.
During my recent online retreat, we used all of these practices to call in stillness. I wasn’t sure how it would work online but somehow it did. In two, two hour spells of time we gathered together to support each other in our search.
Have you tried Nadi Shodhana * alternative nostril breathing?
Nadi Shodhana benefits;
- Infuses the body with oxygen
- Clears and releases toxins
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Calms and rejuvenates the nervous system
- Helps to balance hormones
- Supports clear and balanced respiratory channels
- Helps to alleviate respiratory allergies that cause hay fever, sneezing, or wheezing
- Balances solar and lunar, masculine and feminine energies
- Fosters mental clarity and an alert mind
- Enhances the ability to concentrate
- Brings balance to the left and right hemispheres of the brain
I just love it for rebalancing me when I am all over the place.
Here’s how to do it;
Nadi shodhana (as with most pranayamas) is best practiced on an empty stomach. The early morning is an ideal time.
Choose a comfortable sitting position—either cross-legged on the floor (with a cushion or blanket to support the spine), or in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Allow the spine to lengthen so that the back, neck, and head are erect throughout the practice. Gently close the eyes.
- Begin by taking a full, deep inhalation followed by a slow, gentle exhalation. In this way, practice several rounds of full yogic breathing to help awaken the energetic body.
- Fold the tips of the index and middle fingers inward until they touch the palm at the base of the right thumb (Vishnu mudra). You will alternately use the right thumb to close the right nostril and the right ring and pinky fingers (together) to close the left nostril.
- Use the right thumb to close the right nostril. Exhale gently, but fully, through the left nostril. Keeping the right nostril closed, inhale through the left nostril and deep into the belly. As you inhale, allow the breath to travel upward along the left side of the body. Pause briefly at the crown of the head.
- Next, use the ring and pinky fingers of the right hand to gently close the left nostril and simultaneously release the right nostril. Exhale through the right nostril, surrendering the breath down the right side of the body. Pause gently at the bottom of the exhalation.
- Keeping the left nostril closed, inhale once again through the right nostril, allowing the breath to travel up the right side of the body.
- Then again, use the right thumb to close the right nostril as you release the left nostril. Exhale through the left nostril, surrendering the breath back down the left side of the body. Pause gently at the bottom of the exhalation.
This completes one round of nadi shodhana. The same pattern continues for each additional round: inhale through the left nostril, exhale through the right nostril, inhale through the right nostril, exhale through the left nostril.
Repeat this alternating pattern for several more rounds, focusing your awareness on the pathway of the breath—up one side of the body (from the pelvic floor to the crown of the head) and back down the other side of the body (from the crown of the head to the pelvic floor). Keep the breath slow, gentle, fluid, and relaxed throughout the practice.
Nadi shodhana can be immensely rewarding, even when practiced for as little as five minutes on a regular basis, but practicing daily for ten to fifteen minutes offers even deeper benefits.
When you are ready to close your practice, complete your final round of nadi shodhana with an exhalation through the left nostril. Relax your right hand and place it comfortably in your lap as you take several full yogic breaths.
Allow your breath to return to normal. As you do, notice your state of mind.
How are you feeling? What sensations are present in your body?
Quietly observe the effects of the practice. Then, gently open your eyes, continuing to focus some of your awareness within. When you feel ready, slowly get up and offer your full presence to the rest of your day.
Wherever you are today and however you feel, if you are seeking simple STILLNESS I can help you.
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