Coming back to our senses on stressful, hectic, busy days often requires conscious effort. As with everything else we want to install our inner hard-drive, training is a good way to anchor relaxation and awareness techniques into our system.
Best-case scenario: we have learned relaxation tools early on in our lives, and are remembering to use them on a regular basis at present. Worst-case scenario: we don’t remember anything in a stressful situation.
How to consciously relax in such a moment? Keeping it simple is one of the greatest tools I have ever ‘learned’ – a.k.a I have unlearned to be complicated. What can we focus on at any time, no matter what situation we are in? Our breath.
While reading this, focus on your breath for a minute – what do you notice? Have you just taken a deep breath, remembering to consciously breathe? (I did!)
We take our body and its amazing way of functioning for granted so much, we move our extremities automatically. We hold our body automatically, not consciously keeping the spine straight, or putting one foot in front of the other in a focused way.
We automatically breathe – often times these are shallow breaths we take, rather than inhaling deeply to fill our lungs with precious oxygen. We eat and drink automatically, healthy stuff or not-so-healthy stuff.
The list goes on and on. We are so used to our body doing its work that we forget how much better we could serve it with our awareness, and how big the rewards can be in return.
Many people tend to hold their breath when in a stressful situation, and only when the body needs air they breathe out on autopilot before starting to breathe ‘normally’ (= shallow) again.
Depending on the situation, the monkey-mind might get really loud also, making it seemingly impossible to relax at all. This deep-breathing thing might need some time to do the trick, and it is so worth practising it.
To calm the mind, we can vary our breathing – we can breathe in through the nose, and out through the mouth, blowing the air out audibly.
By giving our monkey-mind something to do, it can concentrate on directing the breath, rather than hopping about thinking a gazillion thoughts in five seconds. When we are in sync with brain and body, we usually calm down automatically, and fast.
Once the monkey-mind has mastered the nose-mouth-technique and starts galloping again, we can change our breathing. Breathing in through only one nostril, closing the other one with one finger.
And breathing out through the mouth. Focusing on the in-breath ONLY going in through one nostril occupies the mind… Swapping nostrils can further help focusing on just breathing.
And after having breathed in through both nostrils singularly, we can focus on the in-breath coming through both nostrils again. Sounds complicated? Try it out, and have some fun with it!
Another tool we can use for relaxation……