Sunday, February 12, 2006

Cycles of rest and activity

It seems that many of us are beginning to engage in activities that promote rest and relaxation of the body and mind. More and more, people are attending yoga or pilates classes, practising tai chi, going for regular "tune-ups" by seeing a masseuse, aromatherapist, reflexologist or Reiki practitioner, or visiting health spas and being pampered for a whole day or weekend.

We are learning to reconnect with inner selves and this is very important right now, since we are healing. Through healing ourselves, we are also touching/influencing those around us and helping them.

However, there are periods when we tend to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of day to day life, and forget that resting is critical to enjoying our day and tapping into unique gifts and talents that lie buried within us. Moreover, it is difficult to interact and relate to others when the body and mind are tired. Negative feelings tend to infiltrate our consciousness more easily when we lack proper rest and nourishment.

Nature gives us strong clues as to how to behave. If you look at any plant or animal, you will see it has natural cycles of rest and activity and adheres to these cycles instinctively. As human beings, we have forgotten how to tap into our natural rhythms because we are pressured by society and by ourselves.

A good way of tapping back into our true nature is to practise daily meditation. Unfortunately, most people have distorted ideas about what it means to meditate; they believe you have to be in a particular type of position, quite often used by advanced yogis, and that a single meditation has no value unless it is practised for many hours.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The only requirements are that you feel comfortable, with your head and neck aligned. Lying down in bed, face up, first thing in the morning would be just fine. Usually, first thing in the morning is a very good time to practice since your conscious mind is normally quiet and free from the clutter of thoughts that arise during other parts of the day.

Put one hand on your belly and the other hand on your heart. If your mind is already noisy and a million things have flooded into it, that's okay. Just tell it to be quiet and put all your cares and worries aside. Just for ten minutes. Then concentrate on your breathing, nothing else. Breathe in through your nose, filling your belly first and then pushing the breath up into the top part of your chest, and then out through your nose or mouth.

Don't breathe in through your mouth. After all, you don't eat through your nose, do you?

As you breathe in, visualise brilliant white light coming in through your nose and filling your belly and then, from there, running all through your body. When you breathe out, imagine breathing out darkness and any impurities from your body.

Just ten minutes. Get up ten minutes early to do this and do this every day for ninety days, and your life will begin to change. The results are cumulative, however, so you can't expect good results if you only practice this for a few days and then give up.

Make time for yourself and practice breathing. Breath is life.

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