Invite the practice of mindfulness into your morning or evening shower. Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and feel the sensations of the water on all sides of the body. Alternate left/right shoulders, front body/back body. Inhale the steam and smells of soap and shampoo. Listen to the rhythmic cadence of the water for a few slow, deep breaths. Notice your shower habitat as if it’s the first time you’re seeing it. Can you find something you hadn’t noticed before? Stick out your tongue and let the shower water bathe and cleanse your palate. Pause after you shut off the water and feel the very moment the comfort of the heat turns to chill. Feel the chill. Give yourself a hug and start the day with the affirmation, “Today will be a good day. I’m grateful to be alive to experience this new day.”
“The impulse frequently arises in me to squeeze another this or another that into this moment. Just this phone call, just stopping off here. Never mind that it might be in the opposite direction.
I like to practice voluntary simplicity to counter such impulses and make sure nourishment comes at a deep level. It involves intentionally doing only one thing at a time and making sure I am here for it…Voluntary simplicity means going fewer places in one day rather than more, seeing less so I can see more, doing less so I can do more, acquiring less so I can have more…Within the organized chaos and complexity of family life and work, with all their demands and responsibilities, frustrations and unsurpassed gifts, there is ample opportunity for choosing simplicity in small ways.
Slowing everything down is a big part of this. Telling my mind and body to stay put with my daughter rather than answering the phone, not reacting to inner impulses to call someone who “needs calling” right in that moment, choosing not to acquire new things on impulse, or even to automatically answer the siren call of magazines or television or movies on the first ring are all ways to simplify one’s life a little…
A commitment to simplicity in the midst of the world is a delicate balancing act. It is always in need of retuning, further inquiry, attention. But I find the notion of voluntary simplicity keeps me mindful of what is important, of an ecology of mind and body and world in which everything is interconnected and every choice has far-reaching consequences. You don’t get to control it all. But choosing simplicity whenever possible adds to life an element of deepest freedom which so easily eludes us, and many opportunities to discover that less may actually be more.”
From: Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn (1994, published by Hyperion, New York, pp. 68 – 70)
Meditation is not about sitting in a certain position with candles and incense burning in a darkened room. That’s all well and good if that’s your desire, but it’s not necessary. It’s not about seeing flashing colors. It’s not about seeing celestial beings. It’s about being comfortable and listening in your sacred place in however that looks to you. Life will always give us what is needed in the moment we are in. The very core of our true nature is Peace. It is here in one’s sacred place that peace lives silently in the stillness of the mind quietly leading the heart along the way. Breath is a meditation with life.
The herb, lavender (lavandula angustifolia), has a variety of uses. Lavender oil can be used topically (rubbed on skin), aromatically (inhaled or diffused), and some forms of lavender can be used internally in cooking or in beverages. Be sure to use a food grade, pure therapeutic grade oil, or certified therapeutic grade oil before ingesting to avoid possible additives.
When oils are used topically, they should be diluted, 1 drop of oil per teaspoon of carrier oil is a general rule of thumb. Effective carrier oils are olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil. Sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, and argan oil are wonderful for topical dilution and radiant skin. Dilution prevents skin sensitivity and helps with proper absorption and prolonged effectiveness.
Here are a few tips on how to use lavender in daily life:
Add a few drops to the bottoms of your feet or along your spine at bedtime.
Apply to bug bites and hives to help soothe itching.
Place a few drops of diluted lavender under each nostril for runny noses.
Inhale or apply to temples and back of neck for relief from migraine and headache symptoms.
Keep a bottle of Lavender on hand to soothe occasional scrapes and sunburn.
Put a few drops in a small spray bottle, add water, and use as a room spray or spray into hands to inhale for calming.
Deb’s After-sun spray recipe: This combination of oils and aloe will provide cool relief after a day of fun in the sun!
Materials: 4 oz glass spray bottle, lavender oil, peppermint oil, frankincense oil, melaleuca (tea tree oil), eucalyptus, aloe gel (Note: always use pure oils) (drops are measured directly from the bottle in this recipe)
25 drops lavender oil
25 drops peppermint oil
20 drops eucalyptus oil
5 drops frankincense oil
5 drops melaleuca (tea tree oil)
Small squirt of aloe gel
Fill the rest of the container with water and shake! This spray can be used every 4-6 hours. Avoid direct contact with eyes, nose, and other sensitive areas. Shake before each use.
References: The essential life. (2017). A Simple Guide to Living the Wellness LIfestyle. (4th ed.). Total Wellness Publishing
Deb Walczyk is a wife and mother of two energetic boys and one energetic dog. She teaches STEM to young children and enjoys learning all about the science behind essential oils. Deb is currently completing her MSEd in STEM instruction and in her free time she loves to meditate, do yoga, and share her passion about essential oils with others. You can join her facebook group Our Balanced Journey to find out more about Deb’s journey back to health.
Would you put low grade gasoline in your prized Ferrari? When was the last time you changed your oil? Like cars, our bodies need regular maintenance for peak performance. We tend to our appearance, sometimes excessively – washing, waxing, and polishing the chrome. We give attention to the foods we eat – seeking high octane fuel. But, taking full deep breaths and maintaining a peaceful mind are just as important.
These days, constant stress and the focused, visual demand of our tech. devices robs us of our breath. Our breath becomes shallow when we’re anxious, angry, or fearful. Our breath sometimes stops completely when we squint our eyes to read the text on our ever shrinking displays.
Without adequate oxygen, our bodies are unable to efficiently convert the fuel we consume into energy. When fuel is not fully metabolized, it leaves behind residue that eventually “gunks up the works.” In the science of Ayurveda, this toxic residue is called “ama.” In Sanskrit it literally means undigested. We combat the accumulation of ama by maintaining a strong digestive fire, “agni.” Full, deep inhales fan the digestive flame with more oxygen. Full, complete exhales eliminate more of the residue resulting from that combustion. The more efficient our engine is, the cleaner we burn fuel. Less dirt accumulates in our engine oil. So, while our Ferraris may show a few more dings over the years, a well-maintained engine will carry us far. Happy trails.
Sandi Merrill is an everywoman who stumbled upon yoga 20+ years ago. After some “taste-testing,” she found joy in the Integral Yoga tradition. She is honored and blessed to be able to share the teachings of Sri Swami Satchidananda. Yoga teacher training uplifted her life. Today, she is one of the lead trainers for the Integral Yoga 200-hour Teacher Training when she isn’t globetrotting with her newly retired hubby.
Many have heard phrases over the years like “find your center” and “ground yourself.” I don’t believe anyone actually ever explained what they meant, but I knew they involved going within.
It does help to know how these phrases translate in order to make this state of mind a tangible destination. So, here it goes… Centering refers to one’s mental or physical state. It means to calm your emotions, slowing your mind and your breathing to a point where you can “feel” a lot more going on around and inside of you. It is a state of relaxed alertness.
Have you centered today? Start right now. Sit up tall and lengthen your spine. Close your eyes and draw your awareness within. Begin to breath from your belly, letting it swell out on the in breath. Do this slowly 10 times, just paying attention to the breath. After you’re done, see if taking this brief pause has brought any shifts. Take note of them. Find a little space in your day to practice this. The results could well be illuminating.
Mantras are sacred sound vibrations. These phrases have many benefits when repeated regularly. They quiet the mind, settle emotions, bring you into the present moment, and draw your mind to more subtle states of consciousness. Here are some examples of great mantras:
Om (the primal sound of all being)
Om Shanthi (Peace)
Om Namah Shivaya (bowing to the consciousness of Infinite Goodness)
Mantras can be repeated in meditation, before going to sleep, first thing in the morning, before a difficult conversation, while taking a walk…any time is the right time. It’s also powerful to write mantras down in repetition. This solidifies and resonates all aspects of your being and creates a mental groove that becomes deeper and clearer as you continue day after day. Mantras create an “armor,” protecting you physically, mentally, and energetically. Mantra vibrations can also support healing as you direct their energy. Choose a mantra, repeat it a lot, and enjoy the great blessings which will unfold for you.