Day 13... breath

by Christina


In the silence of the breath, is peace.
— Ntathu Allen
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I was recently in a yoga class and the instructor said "we do all this work in class for the sole purpose of finding our way to shavasana." Now, shavasna is the final pose in a yoga class where one rests, not to sleep but to recharge after a period of effort and work. At the time, I thought her statement was odd. After all, why would I spend 50 minutes of effort if the only goal was to lie down and relax for 10? Couldn't I just skip the work and go straight to shavasana?

Oh grasshopper, of course not. One must experience the process of both the work and the rest for the full experience; both parts complete the process and neither one can stand alone. Again, it's about balance... too much work without rest leads to imbalance and vice versa.

Yoga has also taught me the power of breathing. Using my breath to calm me down or to provide focus. A strategy needed not only on the mat. See, we breathe all the time without ever giving it much thought and that right there is the most bizarre concept. Our breath is the most important life-sustaining act that we do. How long can we go without oxygen? A couple of minutes? maybe 5? Yet we don't even think about it.

We know how to do the work now let's learn how to do the rest part. Using your breath to recharge is a powerful technique that takes only moments. If you find yourself thinking "I don't do yoga" or "this is silly," I encourage you to give this one a try. It isn't "yoga" per se and so what if you feel silly... that's ok too.

Day 13. Peace tip.

Breathe. We can use our breath strategically to guide us and help us find a calmer state of being. Focusing on our breath provides that moment of rest we need to recharge ourselves in this busy, chaotic world. Today, I'll teach you nadi shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing.

  1. Take a comfortable seat, making sure to sit up tall with feet placed firmly on the ground.
  2. Relax your left palm comfortably into your lap and bring your right hand just in front of your face.
  3. With your right hand, bring your pointer finger and middle finger to rest between your eyebrows, lightly using them as an anchor. The fingers we’ll be actively using are the thumb and ring finger.
  4. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out through your nose.
  5. Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through the left nostril slowly and steadily.
  6. Pause holding the inhale for a brief moment.
  7. Open your right nostril and release the breath slowly through the right side; pause briefly at the bottom of the exhale.
  8. Inhale through the right side slowly.
  9. Pause briefly with both nostrils closed.
  10. Open your left nostril and release your breath slowly through the left side. Pause briefly at the bottom.

When you're feeling stressed, anxious, or looking for a calm and peaceful way to begin your day, repeat 5-10 cycles, allowing your mind to follow your inhales and exhales.

Steps 5-9 represent one complete cycle of alternate nostril breathing; one cycle should take you about 30-40 seconds.

Consistency is helpful, so try to match the length of your inhales, pauses, and exhales. For example, you can start to inhale for a count of five, hold for five, exhale for five, hold for five. You can slowly increase your count as you refine your practice.

May your day be filled with peace and a few conscious breaths...

~Christina

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Day 12... an orange

by Christina


The hunger pangs set in so I dug through my satchel to find any remaining snacks that I'd packed earlier in the day. At first nothing, but then, a bright albeit tiny clementine appeared. It'd been a few days since I grabbed the little fruit while in a rush on my way out the door but I was delighted to find it.

I grabbed it, sat back at my desk and began to peel the outer covering away. My stomach growled again as if to say "hurry up, what's taking you so long." But the peel was thinner and forced me to slow down.  The citrus smell soon began to fill the room and my mind shifted to the many times I'd enjoyed an orange.

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I find it odd that an orange, a citrus fruit which seems so summery actually reminds me of winter. A few oranges from the knapsack were enjoyed on many a ski-outing or finding a orange in the bottom of my stocking on Christmas morn. I always thought it odd that my parents found great delight in this tradition but as I grew up I began to cherish finding the simple orange... a reminder to be thankful and to strive for simplicity amidst the chaos.

And while I ate this orange, I paused to marvel in the wonders of this little fruit. So neatly packaged with a protective shell and all the imperfect yet perfect segments. A bit wonky each of them yet fitting together rather magnificently to make a sphere. I hadn't stopped in quite sometime to reflect on the food I was choosing to eat.

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Food as peace. This topic is as vast and enormous as the actual food supply. We can consider food as peace at the individual level, family unit (however defined), within a community, nation and policy. And really it could be "Food, War and Peace" because at each of those levels there's an aspect of war and peace as it relates to food.

Day 12. Peace tip.

Take a moment today to reflect on food and peace. Reflect on one food item and marvel in it's splendor. Use this opportunity to slow down and savor what you've chosen to consume. 

~Peace,

Christina

 

 


Day 10... detox

by Christina


peace... it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.
— -unknown

As a child, we had one phone in the house. It hung on the wall, had the spirally-type cord with a rotary dial. At some point, we got a push-button phone but it never was quite the same as waiting for that dial to turn. Everyone answered the phone as you didn't know who was calling, you learned how to politely answer, and then find the person being requested or you took a message. It was a shared communication device.

There were two televisions in the house although they weren't used that much, at least not by today's standards. The radio played in the morning and the t.v. was rarely on the evenings...maybe because my parents tucked  me into bed an an insanely early hour.

In the basement, my father had this HUGE metal box that took up half the floor-space. I asked him what it was and he said "it's a modern computer." It was the early 80's.

And as we all know, there's been an explosion of technological advances over the past few decades. With upgrades to our computers, televisions, audio-listening devices, headphones, and our phones. We are truly spoiled with the access we have to information; not to mention how easy it has become to stay in contact with friends and family regardless of where we live.

But something's happened along the way and this increased ability to stay connected has introduced an odd element of disconnect, overwhelm, and chaos. We are constantly exposed to information, late-breaking news, advertisements, etc. Sometimes it seems like all the technology is screaming "more, more, more." The family phone is long-gone and now it's a personal device. My phone, your phone, his phone, her phone... not our phone. It's "mine, mine, mine."

Often times, we turn to the television to watch the news; some say it's for background noise, others because they need to stay current. Morning news, 5 pm news, just before bed news and then there's the specialized news channels to allow you access to the news 24-7. And the news isn't good. Even when there's a lull in domestic or world events, the news channels still seem to find the negative to report and not the good. Yet we tell ourselves we need to stay current, connected, and in-the-know about what's going on in the world.

As the quote at the top of the page says, peace is about finding that place in the midst of chaos not void of chaos. However minimizing exposure to some of the chaos might be just what we need.

Day 10. Peace tip.

Take a moment to think about the digital distractions you have in your life. Now, I'm not talking about sincere use of technology that allows us to quickly and easily access needed information. I'm referring to the interruptions your phone/texting, social media, the news on the television brings to your day. If you're feeling like you couldn't go without your phone or the news for a day, this tip is for you. If you find yourself making a list of reasons why this won't work, take a moment to reflect and ask yourself why.

Try it. Detox. Minimize the noise, the distraction, the chaos.

Let it go.

~Christina

PS - I want to be transparent in this process. This is a tough tip for me. I was able to get rid of "the news" over a year ago however, my phone is a different situation. It's a work in progress.