4 TIPS TO SLOW DOWN

Many times meditation has been a topic I wrote about, and in these times of intense stress, I won’t stop to point out how important it is to slow down and be in stillness.

Our minds tend to be overloaded, and many of us experience a constantly buzzing busy mind. Just ignoring this fact and allow the stress to manifest can lead to health issues. Stress can take a serious toll on your body on all levels, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. This makes it so important to have breaks, clear the mind, calm down and be still. Your health needs a relaxed and calm starting place to function optimally.

Here comes meditation into play, as this is a great tool to calm down with effects on all levels. You don’t like it? Can’t do it? Give it a different name. Get behind the idea. It’s crucial to quieten your mind and be in stillness, no matter how you do it or how you call it. As an important note, it’s not about just getting rid of your thoughts. Even if shushing your many inner voices is the main goal, you should let them have their say, so you can discover the all-encompassing stillness. Allow thoughts to pop up, appreciate them and let them go. This is the whole exercise. Let’s repeat: it’s all about accepting the thoughts as they come up, and then releasing them. 

Sounds easy, but it only works if you stop judging yourself when your mind starts to wander. Sitting in stillness isn’t easy, so why don’t you start with this to help you stay focused and reel you back in if your mind gets too busy:

  1. Focus on your breath: Bring your attention to your breath. Let it go into your belly, long, slow deep inhales and full exhales. Whenever your mind starts to wander, bring your attention back to your breath. Again and again and again. Just that.
  2. Guided meditation: Use a guided meditation to focus on the voice your hear and following that voice, so your thoughts don’t have much space. You can use an app for this or check my meditations on YouTube – I will record more for you and upload there. Go with the voice that makes you feel calm and settled, otherwise it won’t work well.
  3. Start easy: just some minutes will do the job when you start. Slowly you might want to increase the time, but be gentle and allow yourself to get used to it!
  4. Practice regularly: Make it a regular practice and go for the same time each day. This way it becomes a habit and you can stick to it. Start once a day, maybe right after getting up in the morning or before sleep in the evening. When feeling comfortable with it, you might want to increase the duration and/or ad another short slot during the day.

Learning how to quiet your mind and have a regular practice can have a big impact on your life. And your health!

4 IDEAS TO INTEGRATE MINDFULNESS

You might have read already about it, here on my site or somewhere else, however it’s such an important topic, that I will continue writing about it! Just some main values and ideas today on how to implement the mindfulness approach easily, no matter if into your yoga practice or your daily life as such.

A QUICK RECAP

Mindfulness is being in the present moment without judging; being fully aware of what we are thinking and doing, by keeping our focus on just that. 

WHAT VALUE WOULD YOU PLACE ON…

  • A shift from reacting to acting
  • Reduced distractions
  • Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
  • Increased awareness
  • Increased attention and focus
  • Increased clarity in thinking and perception
  • Lowered anxiety
  • Experience of being calm and internally still

4 IDEAS TO INTEGRATE MINDFULNESS INTO YOUR DAILY ROUTINES

  1. BE PROUD! Just repeat this phrase mentally again and again and again during the day, as often as possible. What will happen is a shift in your mindset – don’t think about what you are proud of, just be it, feel it! There’s always something to be proud of, don’t care about the details. Not just your mind but also your body will react on it: your posture will improve, your spine will lengthen, your chest lifts, your shoulders will slightly go down and back. You will radiate a positive and confident attitude. Wow!
  2. MOVE YOUR BODY! Of course you do that already when adding the mindfulness approach to your yoga practice. Think of it the rest of the day too! Many of us are sitting all day long, starring at a screen or any other devices. Sitting is said to be the new smoking – move as often as you can. Standing doesn’t do the work, your body needs movement. No need for a workout, just tiny little stretches work perfectly. Sitting or standing – do shoulder stretches, twists, side bends, balance, move the spine and many more. Easy little things that can be integrated without any effort.
  3. BREATHE! One of the most powerful tools with the purpose to either control our prana (life force, life energy) or to heal on a mental and/or physical level. We have loads of great techniques in yoga (so called pranayama) that we can use, however very basic techniques will already do the job, such as equal breathing (count your breath, inhale/exhale for 4) or lengthen your exhales (inhale for 4/exhale for 6) to squeeze your inner organs and get the toxins out. While we are used to breathe in a certain way during the yoga practice (e.g. Ujjayi breath), you can use the described techniques during the day and nobody will even recognize what you’re doing! It will immediately calm you down; do it in a train, car, plane, while waiting in a queue, during meetings, you name it.
  4. BE STILL! Meditation is a great tool to get ourselves into stillness, which is really needed in today’s stressful set up. Many of us struggle with meditation and I suggest to replace the term. Call it whatever works for you, it is just about going into stillness for a moment, you decide if 5 minutes, 30 or anything in-between. Bring your awareness internal, focus on your breath, allow any thoughts to pop up and pass by without giving them any further attention.

Go for it, it will change everything – to the better!

Meditation is Mindfulness is Yoga is Meditation

Mindfulness is not just a hype everyone is talking about at the moment, in these times it’s the key to stay sane. But what is mindfulness? Mindfulness means being in the present moment, in the here and now, without any judgment. The past is gone, nothing we can do about it. The future is not yet there, so why waisting our time with being rather in the past or in the future? We miss all we have, the present moment.

I’m working quite intense on this since some time and during a yoga class I taught recently, I recognized how easy it is for me to be fully in the present moment when I teach. I’m focused and concentrated, no thoughts that don’t belong to exactly what I’m doing. Why is it so easy in this situation and difficult in others? Is there any magic formula to be mindful? Nope. But passion is a good trigger to keep us exactly where we should be, in the here and now.

Luckily there are different techniques that help us learning how to stop the ‘autopilot-mode’ and focus on the current moment. Meditation is one of them. I wrote already a lot about it and my struggles (https://tuneinyoga.com/2016/07/16/meditation-vs-meditation/), but I didn’t gave up, I so much wanted to sit cross legged in stillness. I was looking for this quietness in my head, this emptiness, that I already found when practicing asanas. And I finally found it. In my daily meditation practice, I understood how my thoughts appear in my head and where. Just through moving them mentally to a different place, I can get rid of them. My god, so easy and it took my ages to find out! Well, this is my way and it might not be yours, but I cant tell you, it’s so worth to find out!

The more and the longer I practice meditation, the easier it get’s for me to stop the craziness of jumping between not existing time zones. The present moment is all that counts, all that matters, all that exists.

Give it a try! If you are in the Zurich area, stay tuned, learn how to create calm in your every day life and we will do it all together — soon to come: TUNEin:CALM 🙂

Stillness

Is there a difference between stillness and meditation? Is it the same? Is it finickiness? Honestly, I don’t care, for me, there’s a difference, as I don’t have the same expectations when talking about stillness vs meditation. A different approach.

This is how I start my practice, and even if I don’t practice, I rarely miss this moment, my moment of stillness, my moment of deep connection, my moment of emptiness. It’s a readjustment for me, kinnda back to neutral.

This is how I practice stillness:

On my mat, going into childs pose, with my knees mat distance, big toes together. Allowing my hips to open, my ribcage to settle between my legs, my chest sinking down onto the mat. Couple of deep breaths, slow down, opening, letting go. Feeling pureness, just me, nothing else. All that comes to my mind is an animalistic sound, „ahhhhhhhhhh“….. a moment where it’s easy to eliminate any thoughts. It’s also a moment of honesty, I can just be myself and experience what’s going on with me. No matter what.

A perfect preparation to teach a class. A perfect way to start my practice, it feels neutralizing, I easily forget about the day, don’t care what’s on the schedule, just this moment, my practice. It’s magic.