How to Recover from Hell Week

Last week was particularly busy for my family. It seems the theater bug has bitten my whole family.

Missoula Children’s Theater came to town this past week. If you haven’t heard of them, they run a wonderful program for children. Two actor-directors travel around in a red F150. It carries the whole set, scripts, costumes and props to put on a one-hour play, usually a version of a well-known fairy tale. Children from all of the local schools are invited to audition after school on Monday. Those who are chosen rehearse all week, and perform twice on Saturday. At the end of the evening, the actor-directors pack up their truck and move on to the next community.

All three of my boys auditioned, and all three got parts in The Pied Piper!

A few weeks ago, my husband received a call and was asked to audition for a reader’s theater production of Norm Foster’s The Foursome. Reader’s Theater is where the actors read from scripts. They use limited sets, props and costumes, relying primarily on expression to convey the meaning of the play. His performances were also this week.

Stop. RelaxSo basically, because of other events scheduled for Sunday and Monday of last week, it has been a pretty crazy two weeks. My husband and I declared this Sunday a day of rest.

I slept in for the first time in…quite a while. I had a very strong desire to stay in my pajamas and not do anything all day, except maybe surf the net. And then the sun started shining through the front window, and it called me to move my body. So I compromised. I put on my yoga clothes and did yoga for the first time since sometime last fall. Or maybe even last summer.

I forget how much I enjoy the yoga DVD I have. (Jada Fire’s Expressive Yoga for the Soul if you are interested.) And I was truly amazed at how much stronger and more flexible I am since I have been working out on the Wave Vibration Fitness Machine at my chiropractor’s office. Some day I’m going to get one to use at home!

It felt so good to have a day with nothing really planned. It is so easy to get wrapped up in all the projects I am involved in. I sometimes forget that I need to schedule down time as well. Rest and relaxation are an important part of keeping balanced and maintaining positive mental health. When balance and mental health are not looked after, everything else becomes much more difficult.

The only thing I scheduled for the day was a phone call with a friend that I hadn’t talked to in ages. It was refreshing and energizing to catch up with her, and laugh with her. Again, it definitely helped with the balance and positive mental health.

I am very grateful that I, and my husband, took a day off, a day of nothing, a day of rest.

Blessings,

Mary

Breathe Love

The other night I woke up in quite a lot of pain.  The muscles all up and down my back were spasming.  I prefer not to take medication until all my other options have run out.  I also avoid getting out of bed if I can! 🙂

So I started by slowing down my breath.  When I’m in pain, like most people, my breathing gets shallow and quick. Then I started a technique that my dad taught me when he was learning to manage chronic pain.  With each inhale, think, “I am.”  With each exhale think, “Calm.”  Each breath affirms that your entire being is calm.

I have used this technique to successfully manage pain and anxiety in the past.  This time, a flash of inspiration came to me.  Change the word “calm” to “love!” I AM…LOVE. Now each breath affirms that my entire being is love!

I instantly felt my pain level decrease.  After only a few breaths, I felt my heart expand, and a feeling of peace and joy washed over me.  My mind kept taking me out of the experience to analyze what I was feeling so that I could write about it this week, and I would return to focusing on the breath.  I AM…LOVE.  I AM…LOVE. My heart expanded, and I felt a deeper connection with my family, and soon with the world outside.  I was in unity.  I was relaxed.  The pain was not completely gone, but it was significantly decreased to the point that I was able to go back to sleep.  And I felt great!

For a deeper meditation experience, do this in combination with alternate nostril breathing.  Here’s how:

  1. Hold your right hand up, palm facing you.
  2. Bend your index finger and middle finger down, leaving your thumb, ring, and pinky fingers up.
  3. Using your ring finger to hold your left nostril closed, inhale through the right nostril for a count of four.  (Think, “I AM.”)
  4. Release your left nostril and using your thumb to hold your right nostril closed, exhale for a count of eight. (Think, “LOVE.”)
  5. Continue holding the right nostril with your thumb, and inhale for a count of four.  (Think, “I AM.”)
  6. Release your right nostril, hold your left nostril closed with your ring finger, and exhale for a count of eight. (Think, “LOVE.”)
  7. Lather, rinse, repeat three to seven times.

Alternate nostril breathing activates both sides of the brain.  Even practicing here while I am typing out the instructions, I can feel the positive effects!  Let me know what you experience.

Blessings,

Mary

Make “Mental Fitness” a Resolution in 2010

As 2009 winds to a close, so many of us eat way to much over the holidays, and make resolutions for the coming year to get physically fit.  But what about our mental fitness? Patt Lind-Kyle offers an easy way for us to strengthen our “mental muscle.”  And yes, it involves some meditation!

It’s time for the annual “Fitness Resolution.” (Or should it be “Fitness Delusion”?) If you’re like most Americans, you’re fantasizing about a 2010 characterized by thrice-weekly gym visits, early morning jogs, veggie-centric meals, and-of course-a sleek new body by summertime. Yes, it’s a nice goal. But according to Patt Lind-Kyle, it’s an unrealistic one. First of all, you (at least the current you) are probably not going to do those things. But more to the point, you’re focused on the wrong problem.

Instead of JUST making physical fitness your New Year’s Resolution, why not ALSO aim for mental fitness?
“You can change your life in any way you want to change it,” says Lind-Kyle, author of Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain: Applying the Exciting New Science of Brain Synchrony for Creativity, Peace and Presence (Energy Psychology Press, 2009, ISBN: 1604150564) and mind training guide whose voice appears on the book’s companion CDs. “That applies to getting fit or quitting smoking or strengthening your marriage or whatever. But first you have to understand what’s at the root of your problems: your mind and the way it directs your brain to function-basically, where you place your attention.”

Lind-Kyle makes two critical points. One, the lifestyle habits that brought you to your current level of pudginess have carved neural pathways in your brain that can’t be changed by sheer willpower. (That’s why resolutions so often fail.)

The rest of the article is located here… Or jump right in and get her book!

Blessings,

Mary

Get your free full-length guided meditation here.