Here are some additional thoughts on how to renew ourselves and release old, worn thoughts and habits. Spring cleaning from the inside out.
Discover what’s nourishing. Just as plants need water and sunshine to grow, we need physical, emotional, and spiritual sustenance. Start with eating healthy foods, getting regular physical activity, sleeping 8-9 hours, and taking breaks for your mind and body. Do one thing you enjoy daily, whether it’s phoning a friend, listening to music or walking your dog. Nurture your spirit through prayer, meditation, or communing with nature.
Let go of un-nourishing relationships. Being honest about admitting and detaching from relationships which aren’t good anymore can still hurt especially ones involving family and long-term friends. If we’ve spoken to them about what needs to be different and things haven’t changed over time, release them with love. Clearing space for nourishing relationships to enter.
Cultivate optimism. Looking more on the “sunny” side of life can be learned by shifting attention away from negative thoughts to more positive ones. There are few situations which are all good or all bad. Our great job may sour when we get a new boss. An untimely move lead to a wonderful neighborhood with friends with love. Prune your mind of unnecessary negativity.
When we feel grateful, our souls are nourished and restored. We have a more positive attitude toward today and what lies ahead. We feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. Supported in the deepest sense. Abundant and alive.
Spring is in the air. As the days get longer and the weather warms, we feel a growing urge to refresh and renew our lives. The blossoming season brings with it the opportunity to release what we’ve held on to mentally or emotionally, which no longer fits. Spring cleaning indeed.
Clearing away old beliefs. Just like our physical space, our minds are often cluttered with wornout beliefs and ideas. In cognitive therapy, clients learn to monitor their negative beliefs and refute them. If someone grew up being criticized, they may have the belief “I’m no good”. As an adult however, they may have a successful career or be a caring parent, evidence that this belief is not true. Changing automatic assumptions is empowering and liberating.
Sow the seeds of intention: Step One. Along with releasing negative thoughts, we must clarify what we want. Why is this challenging? First, our minds chatter constantly over urgent but not important matters. Like what we said that offended someone we hardly know or putting the laundry away. Instead, we need to quiet our “monkey mind” through prayer, meditation and relaxation. Stillness allows connection with our deeper selves.
Sow the seeds of intention: Step Two. When our mind is still, we see more clearly how we want to live. Then during our daily meditation/prayer, we can set our intentions for serenity, peaceful relationships, health, etc., allowing our intention and energy to flow in the direction we desire. Creating the life we want one day at a time.
When first introduced to breathing as a relaxation technique, we wonder how something so simple can work. My favorite story about “breathing” was finding my 10 year-old daughter playing the deep breathing/relaxation CD I’d made to a friend who was spending the night and having trouble sleeping. She said, “Just listen–you’ll feel better.” Fifteen minutes later, they were both asleep.
Deep breathing works so well because we spend so much time physically and emotionally stressed. Psychologist Alice Domar states that the average US adult experiences the fight or flight response 50 times daily. While adaptive for cave-dwelling ancestors running from saber-toothed tigers, the flood of stress chemicals through our bodies makes us edgy, irritable, and more vulnerable to physical and emotional health problems. Likewise, it results in short, shallow breathing which fuels rather than diminishes the stress response.
The busier we are, the truer this is, especially for moms with small children who already feel physically and emotionally depleted. The more rundown we are, the more likely the fight-flight response is to trigger. Research has shown that five minutes of deep breathing several times a day leads to lower stress hormones by day’s end. Why wait? If we can delay bedtime to pick up the house, certainly we can take 5 minutes, 3 times a day, to improve our physical and emotional well-being. Although it may feel strange at first to be still and breathe deeply, it feels good.
This week’s mantra: “I always have my breath to destress.”