Had a busy week? Are you feeling a little overwhelmed with all the things that you need to do before going back to work on Monday? Or even planning to work this week-end to catch up? When you stop and take a deep belly breath, do you feel tension or constriction? Maybe even anxiety, hypervigilance or nervousness?
Slowing down and doing less does not seem a viable option
Most of us find it a really challenge, if not impossible, to deeply enjoy our week-ends after a busy and potentially stressful week at work. Slowing down is something that a lot of women especially are finding not an easy thing to achieve….there is always too much to do, too many expectations and not enough time.
Yet, to be healthy and to be successful at home and at work, we need to allow our body, mind and spirit to rest and replenish. Instead of doing more, we ideally need to do less. Given the amount of tasks that most women have to on their daily to do list this seems like a joke or an impossible thing to ask.
Meditation is a proven stress reliever, yet not the answer for everyone
Doing a short 5-10 minute meditation or any kind of physical exercise with deep belly breathing every morning really helps to focus the day, and reenergise our hyperactive minds and emotions. Also meditating in the evenings increases the stress relief.
However, I am finding with a number of my clients, especially when they are not regular meditators, that it takes a long time, time they do not feel they have, to achieve any measure of calmness, relaxation and clarity.
If you fall into this group of people, you might like to give the following approach a go. I found this mindfulness practice works really well whilst it does not require taking blocks of time out of your day. It can also be used as a precursor to easing into a more regular meditation practice.
Using an element theme for the day (or the week-end)
I tend to work with the five elements (Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal) in my Movement and Meditation practice. These elements are around almost anywhere and it is easy and effortless to notice their qualities, their properties and their presence in your life all throughout the day.
Pick an element or a symbol that has qualities that you wish to have more of in yourself and your life. Just by making sure you notice this element all throughout the day when you can, will help to boost the element’s qualities in you.
The power of symbols
Focussing on one element for a day or several days, is a beautiful practice that will help ground and focus your mind, both the conscious and unconscious mind.
Research, and my experience, have shown that the unconscious mind which operates our body, our habits and our emotions, responds better to symbols¹ and simple/short instructions than literal and complex language.
Given that most people who are stressed and overwhelmed, and who find it a challenge to switch off are also often dehydrated, my suggestion is to pick Water as your theme for the day. Water is a wonderful element with many facets and qualities, and we are made up of more than 80% of water ourselves.
Working with the element of WATER
1. Take a notepad the evening before and write down the key qualities of your symbol e.g. for water they might be flow, detox, clarity, stillness and force at the same time, flexibility, life, and a whole host of other qualities I will leave to your own creativity.
2. Read what you have written as soon as you get up in the morning
3. Then throughout the day … starting with your shower, your first cup of tea or even when you look out of the window and see the rain or the snow or dew on surfaces/plants ….notice WATER and its many qualities….
Here are some questions you can quickly run through your mind when you notice WATER
- How does this WATER feel? On your skin, on your tongue when you are drinking it, when you touch it?
- What is its texture?
- What does it look like? What is its colour?
- What does it sound like?
- What is its taste and smell?
- Which qualities does this WATER have? What do these qualities feel like in you?
No need to put your observations into words, just notice and let that flow through you.
4.When you spot WATER in one of its many forms … rain drops, tap or shower flow, snow or frozen, puddles, beverages, food, moisture in the air, in colours e.g. blue… take at least 3 deep belly breaths notice the qualities of this WATER.
You might want to put a hand on your naval area to feel the breath going into your belly.
5. At the end of the day, notice how you feel, what you have accomplished, and what has changed for you ….
Feel free to comment how this practice has worked for you.
Wishing you a joyful week-end, and relaxed next week!
¹ can be pictures, physical objects, simple words that stand for something, sounds, physical sensations (touch or feelings), tastes or smells