and Breathe ...
Updated: Mar 6, 2019
Sometimes it is the simple practices which can help the most in the moment.
Here are some of the things that I always work though with my clients and sometimes give as homework between sessions. You can do them right now:
Ground yourself - the gravity from the core of the earth is keeping you upright and moving forwards, remind yourself of this fact as you place your feet on the ground. Imagine roots growing from your feet into the ground, holding you steady, keeping you grounded. Allow your focus and energy to move from your head and your thoughts down to your feet and feel yourself rooted. Think of what you feel you need in the moment, e.g. support, understanding and visualise that you are receiving this from the earth below you through your feet. You are rooted.
Breathe - Slowing down your breathing and exhaling with slightly pursed lips (as if blowing) is not only calming but it is also a signal to your brain and parasympathetic nervous system to relax. I like to use 7-11 breathing and Heart Math breathing.
7-11 Breathing (sometimes called ratio breathing) is when you start to make your exhale longer than your inhale, for example in for a count of 3, out for a count of 5, do whatever count feels comfortable and natural to you, don't force it. As you start to breathe more deeply notice the feeling of your chest and diaphragm expanding with the air and how you feel that in your sides, not just the top of your chest. Bring that air right down into your lungs and below. Each time you exhale, visualise letting something go, you can even sigh as you do this. Follow this pattern until you feel yourself slow down and start to feel more relaxed.
Heart Math Breathing - The Heart Math Institute have done extensive research on the important role of our hearts and the connection between it and our brain (more about this in another post). Here is the breathing technique that they recommend to get your heart into full coherence / flow . Focus on something or someone that is very dear to you or that you are grateful for, it could be a loved one, a special place or even a nice warming cup of tea. Focus on building up that picture in your mind's eye and as you do so imagine that you are actually breathing in and out of your heart. Keep the count equal so in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 4 (whatever feels right for you) and imagine that you are breathing the image in and out of your heart. Notice how calming this feels and when you are ready send that image out of your heart and into the universe. This simple technique steadies your pulse and brings your head and heart into coherence.
Notice - here is a quick Mindfulness exercise to switch focus.
First - notice something that you can see in front of you without moving your head, notice the colours, shapes, textures where the light and shadow falls. Keep this thing in your gaze but start to focus on something else close by, again notice the detail of it in every way possible. Then notice something else nearby that you can see without moving your head. Again notice the detail and allow your mind to concentrate solely on this image.
Next - take your attention to three things that you can feel - it could be the feel of your clothes against your skin, the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe, your feet firmly planted on the floor. Focus on each feeling individually so that your mind is calm and still.
Then - focus on three things that you can hear. Narrow your focus to just using this one sense and kelly listen in, can you hear sounds in your own body like your heartbeat or your tummy gurgling? Perhaps you can hear distant traffic or a clock ticking. Focus your mind on each individual sound.
You can repeat this three times. On the last round allow your eyelids to gently close and visualise what you saw with your eyes open, see if you can recreate the same colours, patterns, textures in your mind of what you saw.
I sometimes use this an induction to hypnosis but it is very calming used by itself.