The one constant in life is change. To balance and maintain health during happy or sad times, try this practice of breath, movement and prayer/meditation for 30 days.
Over the years, I have found this practice deeply restorative and helpful to reorient myself during times of chaos and change. I teach it to my clients now as a means to weather life’s storms. The results are always positive.
– Breath – can be done standing, sitting or lying down. If standing or sitting in public, cast your eyes down or close them. If you are lying down and feel safe, close your eyes, or do this when first getting up in the morning.
– Lie on your back, knees bent.
– Place hands on either side of your body.
– Get a sense of where breathing flows naturally
– Place your left hand on your chest, right hand on your belly. Bring the breath to the belly, as you breathe in, belly moves up and rib cage out to the sides. As you breathe out, belly and rib cage move toward spine.
– Breathe in through nose, out through mouth to start. Exhale with sigh for several breaths, gradually quieting the breath until you can easily breathe in and out through the nose.
B. Movement – 6 Movements of the Spine
– Add a pelvic tilt to the breathing above. As you breathe OUT, press the low back against the floor and roll the front of the pelvis up. As you inhale, allow the low/middle back to arch up slightly off the floor. Do this 8-10 times. Photo 1 and 2.
– Bring your arms out to shoulder height, if you are sitting or standing do this against a wall. Bring shoulder blades down and back, thumbs are up, and make snow angels. You can try tilting your chin up and down with this movement, using small movements. Do this several 8-10 times.
– Keeping the arms at shoulder height or over your head, tilt your body at the side waist to the left, come back to center, then tilt at side waist to the right. Do this 8-10 times. Photo 3
– If you are lying on your back, bring your knees up to your chest, and let your knees fall to the right, then to the left. If this feels too hard, let one knee fall at a time. Keep your arms at shoulder height and turn your head in the opposite direction. 8-10 times Photo 4
– if you have time, progress from lying down to sitting…by rolling right with knees bent (if there is no discomfort on the right), and pushing with your left hand in front of your chest to sit. Photo 5, 6, and 7.
C. Loving Kindness Prayer Meditation
– Position yourself so your back is straight and aligned with head and pelvis…you can do this lying down with a bolster under the knees, sitting up straight or standing with knees softly bent.
– Keeping the breath constant, remember a time when you most felt loved and cherished. Allow that feeling to grow in the chest. You may notice other feelings may arise, but allow that feeling to take shape and grow.
– With that feeling, say “may I be well, may I be happy”. You may want to put your hand on your chest if the feeling is elusive or hard to feel. Continue for 1-5 minutes. Notice how you respond inside, coming back again and again to the feeling of love and the words, “May I be well, may I be happy”.
– Bring to mind a friend. Extend the happy loved feeling to them while saying, “May you be well, May you be happy”. Continue for 1-5 minutes.
– Bring to mind a neutral person. Extend the happy loved feeling to them while saying, “May you be well, May you be happy”.Continue for 1-5 minutes.
– Bring to mind someone with whom you experience difficulty. Not someone too difficult, perhaps someone you have only mild irritation with. Over time, you can choose someone more challenging. Extend them the same feeling of happiness and love, while saying, “May you be well, May you be happy”. Continue for 1-5 minutes.
– In this most important part, bring all 4 people before your minds eye. Extend wellbeing and love to everyone equally. You will notice that it may be much easier to extend love to one person vs. another. Extend the feeling equally. Do this 1-5 minutes.
– Now focus on expanding the feeling to your family, your neighbors, your state, your country, the world. Do this for 1-2 minutes.
– And now, let go of everyone and the process, rest back for several minutes.
– Move your arms, legs, gently and gradually open your eyes.
Over time positive feelings will start to take root. In just 2 weeks, brain scans have shown positive changes in the “happy” areas of the brain.
Blessings in your process!