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!

Mindful Practice

“Remember, the main thing that shapes our body is how we feel, so don’t waste your sacred moments in senseless distraction.“ (Samadi, Bali)

When I start a class, I usually ask my students to allow themselves for the next 60/90 minutes to be present, in the room, on their mat, and most important with themselves. I ask them to practice mindful as a commitment to being here and now. I know this isn’t easy, particularly when practicing over lunch, when students arrive stressed and might have challenging stuff to do or lots of appointments in the afternoon. The more important it is to grant our monkey minds a break. The morning is past, nothing to do about it and the afternoon not yet there. Integrating the attention of presence in action, this is what it’s all about. Sounds simple, anyhow, not always easy to realize.

There are a couple of things that might help:

  • Stop comparing yourself to others
  • Direct your energy and your full attention to yourself
  • Keep your focus on your breath (and simply bring it back each time you lost connection!)
  • Be gentle with yourself
  • Feel what you are doing
  • Relax and enjoy the process

Next time when you hit the mat, give yourself permission for the time of your practice to just do that, nothing else, physically AND mentally. Any thoughts that pop up, let them come and let them pass, knowing they will get the required attention after your practice. I promise this will change your practice significantly!