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Boy, was I thankful for having learned to be a better breather when I was under the dentist’s drill, the other day. I felt some pain, but mostly fear and anxiety about this new experience of getting a filling.
Whenever I teach a class on acupressure, I tell my students, “Your breath is your friend.” So when you hold a point, take a few deep breaths. Even if you’re not holding a point, take a few deep breaths. Deep breaths help with relaxation.
And what I learned on the dentist’s chair is that I was able to access my calming breath, because I had done it before, in many ways. Practicing acupressure points; giving wellness sessions; receiving bodywork; meditating; in my yoga practice. So, hooray for all that attention to breath.
I’m feeling some anxiety about changes–real, imagined and expected–in my life now. I came across this article in the Yoga Journal, by meditation teacher Philip Moffit, where he talks about change and intention: The Dharma of Life Changes. Since intention is a key word in my own work with clients and with myself, I was curious to see what the author had to say.
I was especially drawn to these questions that Phillip Moffit proposes:
Diligently applying mindfulness allows you to answer three basic questions:
- What are your real motives?
- What are the possible effects of any change?
- Is the manner in which you plan to go about change skillful?”
These are seemingly simple questions, but how simple is it to “diligently apply mindfulness”? I find my mind wandering easily to worries and planning, so I remind myself of the benefits of spending a few minutes to do a self-acu mini meditation.
Whatever movement in your life that you are dealing with or working on bringing to fruition–managing your weight, improving your life balance, greater financial success, a new job, a growing family–try out these questions. Change is a part of life; it’s nice to have some guidance in how to navigate through those times.
In the last minutes of 2006, I was in a car accident. We were just about to cross the Oakland Bay Bridge to go home after a warm and lovely New Year’s Eve dinner, and the car I was driving was hit by a truck.
Fortunately, no one was injured. The man who hit us was calm and friendly, which helped calm my startled nerves, and I trust that the insurance matters will all work out alright. When the clock struck 2007, we were still on the side of the road, but had a great view of the fireworks display across the Bay.
Nevertheless, my spirit has been a bit off-kilter today, the first day of 2007. Worried about the repair requirements, wary about driving, rattled that the transition to the new year was accompanied by such a jolt. However, I remind myself of the healthy intention I set for myself yesterday, before the accident.
That is, to practice some yoga and meditation every morning, even if only for 15 minutes. I ALWAYS feel better when I do that. I know this supports all aspects of my life.
And this morning, even though I was feeling a bit tentative and sorry for myself, and my neck and shoulder were a bit uncomfortable–from the accident? from stress and worry?–I did my practice. I felt better afterward, in body and spirit, and I believe it allowed me to enjoy the visits with good friends through the day as much as I have. My morning practice also probably helped to recognize my “off-kilter” state, and just let it be, rather than getting more worried about that.
So, I invite you to consider setting a healthy intention for yourself.
- Not a goal, which sets up a specific expectation. Here’s a familiar example: I must diet and lose x pounds by y-date.
- But a guiding principle that helps you with what to do in every moment. It might look like this: My intention is to pay attention to when I am actually hungry, and eat food that is nutritious and delicious, enough to satisfy my hunger, and no more.
When you pay attention to the joyful or peaceful and restful moments in your life, what healthy intentions can you set?
Running ragged from a long week? Feel your energy flagging?
Try the following self-acupressure energy boosters and see if any work for you.
Lower Back Rub
Place the back of your hands on your lower back—at waist-level—and rub vigorously for 15 seconds. Relax your arms, take a deep breath, and repeat two or three more times.
Stretch and Breathe
Take a deep long breath as you raise your arms up over your head and stretch. Bend your arms and point your thumbs into the “corner” below where your clavicle (collar bone) meets your shoulder bone. This helps open your lungs and chest; now take a few more deep breaths.
Three Mile Point
Sit comfortably. Make a light fist and rub vigorously along the outside of your shins, a couple of inches below your knee. It’s said that when soldiers in ancient China did this they could run three more miles; hence the name!
(For questions about a medical condition, please see a qualified health care professional.)
Are you feeling stressed or overwhelmed with shopping or hosting/travel preparations? Or worried about finishing up a project at work? Or maybe you just want to take a break from the buy-buy-buy atmosphere.
Meditation can be a powerful source of health and wellness, for both body and spirit. Even when we don’t have the time or inclination for a full meditation “practice,” a few moments of deep breath and holding acupressure points can be calming and relaxing.
The Self-Acu Mini Meditation takes just a few minutes, and can be done anywhere. At your desk, sitting in your car, or at bed-time. It’s easy to do, and gives you a chance to hold two important acupressure points: the Third Eye (between your eyebrows) and the Hara (below your bellybutton.)
Give yourself this gift, now or anytime.
Self-Acu Mini Meditation
For a moment of relaxation during a busy day, try this mini-meditation.
Stand or sit comfortably and close your eyes.
Gently place a finger on your Third Eye-between your eyebrows-and place the palm of your other hand on your Hara-below your bellybutton.
Take five … deep … slow … breaths.
Smile. You’ve just given yourself a wonderful gift.