Life has the ability to allow us to forget to be with ourselves. We are constantly running from place to place, stressed, overworked and overwhelmed.
We don’t have time to exercise or to cook a wholesome meal, we end up rushing through a million tasks; we speak without weighing the consequences our words can have.
We are running on autopilot. And it works. One day, one month, even a year perhaps, and this tells our minds that we can do it, so we keep going.
Then, one day, our body forces us to stop. At first it will be a gentle nudge, like a simple cold. And if we don’t learn the lesson, slowly these signs will progressively get stronger: eczema, IBS, anxiety… We go to the doctor to find out what’s wrong with us, we book a massage for our sore muscles or just to relax from the stresses life challenges us with, we look for a therapist that might help us with psychological issues. All of these are powerful ways to help us bring our bodies to optimum health, but the truth is they are not enough. Ultimately healing comes from within.
We know we need to slow down in order to live a better life, but life itself does not allow us to, and our daily habits are one our biggest problem.
We need to make small changes that allow us to live a slower, fuller life:
Not everyone has time for a daily meditation or yoga practice at home before going to work. Could we go to bed a little earlier and set our alarm 30 min before? It may sound a bit much I know, but when you really think about it, it’s not impossible. We all definitely have a few minutes in bed, just after we press the snooze button, to take a few deep breaths, check in with how our body feels after sleep, and tell ourselves that today, we are going to have a good day! One big stretch, a releasing sigh, and off we go!
A few minutes in the shower can also become a precious moment to centre ourselves and perhaps mindfully enjoy those drops of water running on our skin.
Making sure we don’t miss breakfast means barely 5 minutes less sleep, and eating it slowly and mindfully before checking our emails, ensures an easy digestion and absorption of the nutrients and energy we need for the day ahead.
One thing I have learned is that most of the stress that affects my day is due to rushing and the solution I have found for myself is ‘leave early, arrive early’, wherever I happen to go. Imagine a commute to work where you don’t need to keep an eye on your watch or where if a train is too packed you can wait for the next one.
Arriving to work with minutes to spare allows us to take time to breathe, check in with ourselves, take a stretch, make a cup of tea, and repeat to ourselves we are having a good day.
The best thing I have done to improve the quality of my life, is get rid of my television. How much time do we gain without another screen in our life? These are precious moments we can use to read a book, enjoy a cup of tea, write a journal, go to that yoga class you have been meaning to try forever, cook a healthy dinner and perhaps make extra to take to work the next day. After all is television really that relaxing? It does help to switch off and take our minds away from the events of the day, but so does preparing a meal and putting all our attention and love into it.
Yoga, Massage and Yoga again.
If every day is not a possibility, at least twice a week, our body needs to move, make space, release and rebalance. Our mind needs to centre, to find something to focus on. I find Yoga is the best tool to achieve that.
Once a week a massage offers the opportunity to reconnect with our body. Massage therapy is the holistic application of physical touch to affect the systems of the body: muscular, skeletal, digestive, respiratory, circulatory, and nervous systems. It allows us to relax our minds and settle our emotions, whilst we congratulate ourselves for taking care of our bodies.
One of my regular clients is a wonderful success story and an example to all of us: a couple of years ago he came to me with some physical complaints: postural imbalance and a ripped Achille’s tendon that affects the way he walks.
Week after week we released his muscles, and he started feeling good once again. But he became aware that although massage was making him feel like he was in good shape again, this optimum state lasted a few days only. Awareness made him realise he needed to do more, and so he stopped running so his ankle would not feel aggravated, he started doing 20 minutes of yoga every morning to keep flexible and soften his muscles, he then followed my advice and went to see my osteopath to work more deeply on his ankle.
From here, quite naturally, he stopped drinking during the week, started swimming again and made a rule not to check his emails before getting into work. The habitual changes he made to his life, not only meant that each massage he got made progress at a much deeper level, they also completely transformed him mentally and physically.
During a 6 weeks Mindfulness course I picked up an interesting technique, which helps me to keep in touch with how my body feels, rather than ignore what it’s trying to tell me:
The 3 Cs’
CONTACT: make contact with your physical experience
CURIOSITY: investigate what is happening to your body
CARE: hold the awareness and set an intention to deal with the problem.
Ultimately we need to commit to our wellbeing, we need to make a few small steps that allow us to feel good, and only then can we gain the full benefit of any therapy we choose as a tool to help us.
Danila Ciencia Massage Practitioner at Shine