April 2017 Monthly Practice
Do the one thing that will naturally allow you to feel better this April, go outside! 30 minutes of outdoor time in pleasing sun-filled springtime weather has been linked to 4 important life-enhancing benefits.
Exercise: Enjoying the outdoors comes with some level of exercise. With the longer days there will be plenty of time to walk, garden, bike or stroll to your favorite contemplative destinations. Exercise is one of the best ways to increase your energy.
Brighten Your Mood: Spend at least 30 minutes a day outside in sunny weather to uplift your spirits and improve your mood. It is proven that for most, mild weather with sun can positively affect human behavior.
Increase Memory: In daily life the memory is the cognitive function we call upon the most. According to research from the University of Michigan being outside for 30 minutes a day in pleasant weather improves memory.
Receive Vitamin D: Have some fun in the sun and get your daily dose of vitamin D. The human body is designed to produce Vitamin D when the skin is exposed to the sun. For some, 10 minutes is all you need! Get up, get out and get your daily dose of D.
March 2017 Monthly Practice
If you’re excited about taking self-care off the back burner, one way to jumpstart your relationship with self is to create a morning ritual. Many already have a morning ritual, whether that ritual is drinking coffee, hitting the snooze button, or jumping in the shower. Creating a morning ritual includes taking a moment for mindfulness amongst the more mundane aspects of your morning and coming up with a few simple practices to add into your morning routine.
First, write down what your dream morning would look like. If you could wake up and start your day from a place of intentional peace, what would that look and feel like?
Focus on ideas that are within your sphere of influence, rather than thoughts outside your sphere of influence (for example, rather than wishing that on your dream morning you would wake up and your neighbors would finally be finished with their loud construction project, focus on what choices you have full agency to make as a part of your morning ritual).
Write this dream as if it’s happening right now:
In my dream morning, I wake up and have a big glass of water while I prepare a hot tonic or tea. I wake up in time to include 30 minutes of dedicated self-care before beginning the day. My dream morning includes burning a bit of palo santo while mentally sending out a blessing for peace, sitting for mindfulness meditation, and being outside to observe the rhythms of nature before I get ready for the day.
Then, pull the details of a structured morning ritual out of your writing. Decide on your length of commitment to your ritual without overpromising. Perhaps you will practice 20 or 30 minutes each day for two weeks, or each morning throughout the month of March.
Each day, observe yourself during the tasks immediately following your morning ritual. Over time the effect of the morning ritual as a practice of self-care extends into other actions throughout the day. The morning ritual can be an effective practice to welcome self-care and observe its impact on the tone of your daily life.
Self-care at work:
Keep a pitcher of water or a large water bottle at your desk. Drink more water and make hydration a habit in your workday.
Exercise a signature strength. If you’re good at something, speak up about it! Voluntarily identifying and connecting with our strengths in the workplace is a great way to grow and assert the true self.
Put your computer and phone away and read a book during your lunch break instead. If you can sit outside, even better. Alternatively, eat at your desk and take a walk or a bike ride during lunch.
Get upside-down during the work day. Do a forward fold (in the bathroom if necessary) to benefit circulation and clear your mind. Make room for 2 minutes of self-care between meetings or in between tasks, knowing that you will be more effective in your life if you take moments to check in with yourself.
Reorganize your desk. Remove any excess clutter and create an intentionally minimal, beautiful workspace for yourself, featuring photos of a place that inspires you or a vase of flowers.
Think of yourself as a steward of your own body and spirit. Implementing self-care means making your health a priority through small daily changes which can add up to more space, clarity and connection with the authentic self.
Self-care for otherwise unremarkable moments:
Every time you come to a stoplight, massage your neck or practice taking deep, slow breaths until the lights change.
Instead of scrolling through work emails next time you head to the DMV or the doctor’s office, bring a compelling book or spend the wait time free-associating all of the thoughts you’d like to get out of your brain and onto a journal page.
When you’re in line at the grocery store, stand firmly with both feet planted, shoulders back, feeling the ground beneath you. Breathe deeply. When you get to the register and the attendant asks how you are, perhaps you can respond from a more grounded and/or genuine place. Sometimes caring for the self is showing up as the true self, even in seemingly insignificant moments.
Download a few compelling podcasts on a subject that truly feed your soul and listen to them during your commute.
February 2017 Monthly Practice
Ritual of Clearing
This February, try the following ritual of clearing to aide in letting go of what doesn’t serve you and then creating new agreements rooted in a sense of calm and wholeness. With mindful journaling, meditation and self-awareness, you may create space for the resolutions which are truly important to you to take root in your life. The following 6 clearing steps are simple and incredibly powerful.
This practice can be done alone or with friends and loved ones.
- Clear a space for practice. Declutter the immediate space in which you’ll practice. Consider replacing the clutter with a candle or small altar of special things (anything at all, including beloved items, stones and candles) you want to bless during your clearing ritual.
- Clear the air. Carefully burn sage or palo santo, both revered for their qualities of clearing and resetting the energy of a space. If you are sensitive to smoke, you may want to prepare a diffusion of palo santo oil, sage oil, or another favorite essential oil instead.
- Sit for meditation. Prepare a comfortable seat using a cushion or folded blanket. If you are with friends or loved ones, sit in a circle around the altar or candle. If you are alone, the circle is metaphorically drawn around you and your meditation space. Sit for a comfortable length of time (5-30 minutes) and focus on making your inhale and exhale equally long, slow and even. If you struggle to focus, you might just repeat the words “inhale” and “exhale” as you breathe. At the end of this meditation, take a few moments to consider what you’re ready to let go of.
- Write what you’d like to clear from your life. Create space for new resolutions by clearing what’s old and unnecessary. This is a great time to share what you’re letting go of if you’d like.
- Toss what you’d like to clear from the circle. Some people like to throw what they want to let go of into a fire. If you can use fire as a part of your circle, crumple up what you’ve written down and throw it into the flames, ceremoniously letting it burn! If you don’t have access to fire, crumple up your paper and throw it out of the circle, behind your back, or into the recycle bin.
- Sit for closing meditation. Settle in for a closing meditation. Again, focus on a slow, even pattern of breath. Center your focus on the space between your two eyes, activating the pineal gland. When you are ready to finish the meditation, slowly open your eyes and take note of any physical or emotional sensations you experience.
May this practice of ritual assist in the creation of a clear space in which your resolutions for the new year can take root in your life.
December 2016 Monthly Practice
Loving Kindness Meditation
December is a wonderful month to practice the art of being a heart centered person. It is a true gift to have the ability to light up your life and those around you. The heart opening practice of Metta meditation will help you develop the feeling of compassion or loving-kindness to oneself and to other individuals in one’s life. The simplest way to practice this type of meditation is to take yourself through the following 5 steps:
Step One: Bring to mind someone whom you find easy to love. Someone who when you think of them, you light up. Begin to really cultivate this feeling of love, joy, gratitude, and compassion that you feel when you think of them. See their face clearly in your mind, and imagine them being happy. Send this warm, loving feeling of compassion to them.
You might use the mantra: May you be well. May you love and be loved. And may you live with ease.
Step Two: Now bring a different person to mind. Someone who might be neutral to you. This might be someone who you see at work but don’t have strong feelings for one way or the other, it could be someone you see at the grocery store, or in a class. A neutral acquaintance. Begin to cultivate the same feeling of loving kindness and compassion for this person as you did the first.
Again you might use the same mantra: May you be well. May you love and be loved. And may you live with ease.
Step Three: Bring now someone to mind with whom you might have some difficulty. Go through the same steps as before. Maybe using the same mantra again or perhaps in your practice different words come to mind that better express your feelings.
Step Four: Express this same feeling of compassion toward yourself. Again, perhaps using the mantra. Really take time to focus here and see yourself happy and at ease.
Step Five: Extend this feeling now to all beings everywhere. Friends, loved ones, strangers, neighbors, animals… all beings everywhere. Again you might use the mantra above, or another that works for you.
You are a beacon of light, light up the season with compassion and gift others with your love.
November 2016 Monthly Practice
As this season advances further into fall, the themes of gratitude, abundance, and generosity enter our lives. It makes sense, as Thanksgiving and the holidays are right around the corner. During this time of year many people are naturally moved to express gratitude for all of the abundance available to us; we are grateful for the autumn harvest, family, and so much more. For those who focus on counting and sharing their blessings, the holidays tend to feel richer than other times of the year. The following research gives us good reason to bring the practice of gratitude into our daily lives all year long.
Many studies in the field of Positive Psychology have shown that daily expressions of gratitude lead to decreased stress, increased positive emotions, and better physical health. Robert A. Emmons PhD is a leading researcher on gratitude and has shown that people who frequently express gratitude also experience more feelings of spiritual transcendence in their lives.
In another study titled, “The Lived Experience of Gratitude,” it was found that the verbalization of gratitude is linked to other supportive feelings like, joy, love, awakening, release, awe, and feeling blessed. This same research even found that the expression of gratitude can lead to changes in the way individuals perceive the boundaries between “self,” and “other.”
“Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret” state Forbes contributor, Amy Morin. All the wonderful benefits of gratitude await, today is a good day to begin making declarations of gratitude, to help the decrease of negative emotions, and in turn, embrace a happier you!
This month we encourage keeping a gratitude journal. It is best to have a notebook devoted entirely to expressions of gratitude but one can also make gratitude entries in a regular journal. For example: “Today I am grateful for the loved ones in my life, the fresh food that I eat, the clean water I have access to, and the roof over my head.”
Once a day, either at the beginning or end of your day, take a minimum of 5-10 minutes to free-write a list of things, people, events, or anything else in your day or in your life for which you feel grateful. Just simply write the first things that come to mind and let your gratitude flow. Allow yourself to be surprised at what arises!
When we express gratitude for the abundance that is already available to us, it opens us up to receive even more of what life has to offer.
Emmons, Robert A., McCullough, Michael E., & Tsang, Jo-Ann. “Gratitude in Intermediate
Affective Terrain: Links to Grateful Moods to Individual Differences and Daily Emotional Experience.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 86 No.2 pp.295-309. Web: goo.gl/gIxHkF
Hlava, Patty & Elvers, John. “The Lived Experience of Gratitude.” The Journal of Humanistic
Psychology. Sofia University, Palo Alto, CA. Web: http://jhp.sagepub.com/content/54/4/434.abstract
Morin, Amy. “7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give
Thanks Year-Round.” Forbes Magazine Online. Web: http://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/11/23/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-gratitude-that-will-motivate-you-to-give-thanks-year-round/#12e265286800
October 2016 Monthly Practice
Throughout the month of October head to the fields, forest, or your favorite walking trail, (which could be located on a city block with particularly wonderful trees) and begin to collect leaves. Children automatically know and understand the value and excitement that follows this type of activity. Release your inner child and begin collecting your beautiful bounty of leaves today. The act of looking at the colors of the autumn leaves offers your subtle body and emotions all the benefits that are associated with those colors. Watch your stress melt away as joy embraces your mood. Remember to become aware of all your senses. Let the fresh air remind you to take a deep exhilarating breath, take in the smells carried by the breeze, close your eyes and feel the sun warming your face, perhaps listen to the sounds of the leaves crinkling and crunching around you, taste the freshness and change in the air, and remember to engage your awareness in the act of touch as you pick up your leaf.
March 2015 Monthly Practice
This month try on these antidotes to the fight or flight response. Because the relaxation response is a physiologic response (like our heart rate or respiratory rate), there are many ways to elicit it, just as there are many ways to increase our heart rate.
► Try these Seven methods to elicit a physiologic response
1. During any repetitive exercise such as walking, swimming or running, repeat your “focus word” or phrase with each step or stroke. For example, when I run, with each step I might say “peace” or “love.”
2. Practicing yoga, with its mental focus on postures and breathing, can elicit the relaxation response.
3. Deep diaphragmatic breathing exercises, with a focus on the breath, can trigger the relaxation response.
4. Progressive muscle relaxation techniques, where you alternately contract and then relax each muscle group moving progressively from head to toe, will elicit the beneficial effects of the relaxation response.
5. Repetitive forms of prayer elicit the relaxation response.
6. Singing or chanting your focus word or phrase, either silently or out loud, will elicit the relaxation response.
7. Mindfulness meditation, a method that comes from Buddhist philosophy and involves merely “observing” or “noticing” things, will elicit the relaxation response. For example, we may walk down the street and say, “My feet are touching the pavement, right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot. I notice the tree ahead. The top branches are swaying in the breeze. I’m feeling thirsty. My body is sweating. My feet are on the grass now. The grass is soft.” By simply noticing our experience and naming it, without judging or evaluating whether it is good or bad, we tap into a source of active meditation that elicits the relaxation response. Instead of having one single focus word or phrase, the world around us and the world of feelings within us become our focus phrase.
The key is to simply notice our world and our feelings. No judgements of good, bad, right, wrong, lazy, weak, strong, kind, mean, etc. are given any attention. This is similar to simply disregarding any intrusive thoughts. Emotional mindfulness might sound like: “I am feeling sad. Tears are welling up in my eyes. I am remembering the hurt I felt when I left home that day. My stomach is growling. I feel my body shaking. I am feeling sad again.” Notice there is only the simple acknowledgement, recognition and naming of the feeling or event. Any judgements about our feelings are to be passively disregarded with a return of one’s mental focus to the observation or naming of emotions or bodily sensations. (For more information on mindfulness, read the remarkable work of Jon Kabat-Zinn in his books Full Catastrophe Living and Wherever You Go, There You Are.) – Dr. Neimark
February 2015 Monthly Practice
Creating a Vision Board.
Use the month of February to Create a Vision Board. Use affirmations and images as a powerful tool for manifesting your dreams. When you engage and focus your emotions, senses and brain, around a common goal, the same message will be sent with clarity to your subconscious mind. Your subconscious will work to help you achieve your focus! Here are 8 Steps to Creating a Vision Board.
► Creating a Vision Board
- Begin by gathering your materials and setting a craft area aside in your house or office. Think of it as your personal creation station.
- Select your board. This could be cardboard from an old box, poster board, canvas or paper to work on. It is also helpful to have a shoe box or something for storing the pictures as you begin to collect them.
- Gather the rest of the tools you will need such as glue, scissors, and other decorative supplies that you will use to create the vision board. Remember to honor your process by explaining to the others in your life that this project and area is for you. It is always nice to share the space if they would like to do one for themselves. Remember to keep your vision board about you and not a project for others.
- Now you are ready to choose four top goals/dreams, meditate on each one separately, and narrow your choice down to one. When meditating on your selections, remember the key to selecting the one is to allow your heart and emotions to choose, not your rational mind. Spreading your attention on more than one can dilute your time and energy. If this is your first Vision Board, be easy on your goal setting. REMEMBER, you can always do another board at another time.
- Start collecting pictures, phrases, or words throughout the month. It is always nice to start by finding a photo(s) of yourself for the board. Use only the words and images that best represent your purpose, your ideal future, and words that inspire positive emotions in you. The test when deciding on the images is, “Does this inspire me?” or “Does this affirm my goal?” Collect the pictures from photographs, the internet, cut outs from magazines, or drawings you create yourself. Begin to paste your images or words onto the board. Be selective. Let your board symbolize your purpose with clarity and simplicity. Too much on the board may end up representing clutter and confusion.
- Take your time; there is no rush. Have fun. Keep your board tidy, attractive, and allow it to fill you with a sense of positive feedback.
- Commit to taking time each day to meditate and visualize your future dream. See yourself in the visualization as if your dream has come true. Think about how the future goal would smell, taste, look and feel when you are living your desired dream.
- Now that it is complete, place it in a location you like and will see every day. Spend your future months visualizing, affirming, believing, and internalizing your goals.
Remembering to be grateful for all your achievements!
December 2014 Monthly Practice
Winter months are about hibernation and slowing down to conserve and replenish. Interesting how the human race has taken this time of the year and made it into a race. To assist you in s-l-o-w-i-n-g d-o-w-n we have prepared a 31-Day Self Care Calendar for you. Imagine an Advent Calendar where everyday you gift yourself with something nourishing for your body-mind and spirit. No mater what your beliefs are, everyone is exposed to the same hustle, bustle, over stimulation, commercialization and, dare we say, Christmas music, that started before gathering in gratitude for Thanksgiving. This holiday reduce your exposure by allotting certain times of the day to turn off your phones, radios and TV. Peace on Earth can start with a Peace of Mind.
31 Day Self Care Calendar: OM Sanctuary’s holiday gift to you. The 8 1/2″ x 14″ pdf calendar is ready for you to download. Place the calendar on a wall or, for you creative types, cut out the daily messages and make them into a 31 day Self Care Advent Calendar for you and your family.
August 2014 Monthly Practice – Meet Your Feet
You guessed it, go barefoot for at least 2hrs each day! Take pride in your feet and treat them right. Here are a few ideas to help you get started: Take a barefooted walk on the grass or beach, safely play with your balance and notice how the symphony of parts interact with each other to keep you from falling. Take a tennis ball and roll it around under your foot, while you are at your desk or watching TV, to help wake up the nerve endings and stretch the muscles. Remember your feet have a bigger purpose than sporting good looking shoes.
Meet Your Feet
Your feet are a mechanical wonder with approximately 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles. The soles of your feet contain more sweat glands and about 200 nerve-endings per square centimeter than any other part of your body! Healthy feet can pronate and suspend, absorb soft shock, and, when in partnership with the other joints of the leg and lower back, feet offer balance, stability and mobility for the rest of your body. Human beings have the ability to jump, stand, walk, run, and balance. It is evident that feet are meant to be unconfined for the majority of your day. Here are top 10 health benefits for going bare foot:
- Greater balance. By feeling the ground, people begin waking up the vestibular system (balance system) of the brain, stimulating new neural connections and remapping their minds for greater balance. For seniors this is critical, because one fall or hip fracture can lead to a gradual decline in health.
- Greater strength. By going barefoot one begins to wake up new muscles, both for balance and support. Not only that, but if you look at a super-model’s legs, chances are she’s been walking barefoot at the beach, toning ALL of her leg muscles in the process.
- Healthier feet. The body works on the use it or lose it principle. Use something, you get to keep it. Don’t use it, and it atrophies. When people start going barefoot their feet reawaken and begin to strengthen again.
- The corollary to this is less foot conditions. As the feet strengthen, plantar fasciitis diminishes, foot neuromas go away, bunions begin to dissipate and other conditions such as hammertoes go away. Even the arthritic foot begins to slowly heal itself as it develops greater strength, flexibility, and blood flow.
- Greater circulation. Going barefoot not only wakes up long-dormant muscles of the feet and legs, but gets more blood flow to the feet and legs to get them going. This increased blood flow means less aches and pains, less varicose veins, and warmer feet and legs in the winter.
- Better posture. We’ve all learned an unhealthy habit, or pronounced pelvic-tilt from a lifetime spent in a traditional shoe. The typical running or walking shoe isn’t just a shoe, it’s a high-heel, sporting a heel of 1-2 inches (if not more) in height. To keep from falling over we’re forced to get our butts back and bend forward at the waist, straining our hamstrings, lower back, upper back, shoulders, and neck. It also puts a lot of force on our hips, knees and feet when we run. Once we’re out of a shoe we can begin to reverse this. By feeling the ground the nerve endings on the bottom of our feet begin to tell us that we’re leaning or tilting forward, or that we’re bending forward at the waist. With practice we run, walk, and even stand with better posture, more like a dancer or a model. Not only do we look better and get taller, but we greatly reduce all of the stress and strain on our bodies. And all without any additional work!
- Kids get healthier. With childhood diabetes and obesity, kids health is at an all-time low. And health begins with the feet. If you have strong feet you can walk, run, bike and more. But with weak painful feet, there’s no desire to exercise. The American Podiatric Medical Association now recommends keeping kids out of shoes for as long as possible, because they know shoes weaken and deform the feet. Keep them out of shoes and kids stay healthy. Not only that, but the act of feeling the ground strengthens their senses and helps remap the brain. According to Dr. Merzenich, one of the nation’s leading neuroplasticians, barefoot stimulation helps improve memory, focus, concentration, and overall intelligence too!
- Decreased blood pressure. Studies show that by stimulating the nerve endings on the bottom of the feet, we can decrease blood pressure and the parasympathetic (cortisol) fight or flight response of the body. In other words, we decrease stress and inflammation throughout the entire body.
- Reduce inflammation. Last, but not least, and perhaps most importantly, going barefoot has been shown to reduce inflammation. According to many new studies, inflammation is the number one cause of disease in the 21st century (from allergies to Alzheimers, arthritis to Autism, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, anemia, lupus, MS, and more are ALL related to inflammation). One possible solution may be grounding or earthing, the process of reducing inflammation by walking, standing or even sitting barefoot on the ground.Studies have shown that free radicals, the pesky buggers responsible for inflammation carry a positive charge. Though these positively charged particles play an important role in our immune system and the healing response, if we don’t have a way to drain them, they build up in our bodies, creating excess inflammation and cell/tissue damage. Meanwhile, the earth naturally carries a huge negative charge. (That’s why all of our appliances are grounded.) This difference in polarity or charge between your body and another is why you get zapped in the winter when you touch another object. It’s your body’s way of discharging this unwanted charge. Direct contact with the ground also allows us to discharge free radicals.
- Reflexology benefits. Reflexology is the process of stimulating nerves on the bottom of the feet to stimulate the immune system, reduce inflammation & pain, reduce blood pressure, reduce stress and tension, and to stimulate many other healing processes in the body. Studies have shown great reflexology benefits to going barefoot and stimulating the soles of the feet.
These top 10 Health Benefits of going bare-foot were according to Run Barehttp://www.runbare.com/barefoot-benefits
July 2014 Monthly Practice – Healing Sound
by Mary-Beth Korutz-Killian Spring 2003
What is Healing Sound?
Have you ever had a bad day at the office? But once you got into your car for your long drive home and cranked up the radio (because one of your favorite songs just happened to be playing) didn’t you feel much better…actually the best you felt all day? Or how about when you woke one morning and found that you were feeling a little blue, you decide to take your morning beverage out on the patio and sit and relax to finish your drink. As you sit, you hear a beautiful song made by a songbird just a few yards away, in one of your trees. You instantly feel uplifted and break into a warm, full smile, all is well again and you are feeling terrific. This is “Healing Sound” in a nutshell. Lets take a closer look.
When one thinks of natural healing, herbs, vitamins and diet usually come to mind. But healing doesn’t only come from what you put in your mouth. Sounds heal in other ways that perhaps are even more fundamental. Evolutionary psychologists really don’t understand why we (humans and animals) love music, but according to the latest science, we know that animals are musical; especially our birds, and in much the same way we are.
Sound and music, touches the soul and spirit, and then reaches the deepest roots of healing. Our love for it may be one of the most profound feelings we generate. Music not only soothes ones soul and brings inner peace, but actually makes us whole, and lets us feel the wholeness of the world.
The healing powers of Sound and Music are an inner healing, intangible but yet extremely strong, invisible but profound, delicate but at the same time irresistible. Music and healing sound, moves one toward that place inside from which deep healing can come. There are no limits to the healing that can happen when you reach that place inside.
For the complete article visit: www.holisticbirds.com
June 2014 Monthly Practice – Planting the Seed of Positive Language
The words you choose to use to express yourself can affect your state of well-being and those around you. Stating “I hate my hair” or “I hate my life” sends a message of hate to your subconscious. This state of mind overrides the fact that you are actually happy to even have hair or body parts that work! The same type of statements apply to how you speak about others or the circumstances around you. Speaking badly of others keeps you in a state of negativity.
June’s monthly practice is an invitation to enjoy planting a garden of positive dialog and to seed your life, and that of those around you, with inspiration. Refrain from using words that carry a negative connotation and challenge yourself to express more gratitude for what you do have. Choose 3 or 4 words you commonly use that you would identify as negative words, such as: No, don’t, never, hate and practice replacing them with positive words or phrasing.
Example: No, I don’t like dancing. Replace: I enjoy hiking instead of dancing.
Example: Don’t leave yet. Replace with your real desire: Please wait for me, I will be ready in 5 more minutes.
Example: I never win the prize. Replace with your truth: My desire is to someday be the prize winner.
Example: I hate washing the dishes. Replace with your desired choice: I prefer cooking over washing the dishes.
Sample of suggested words to use: absolutely, yes, I agree, affirm, allow, choose, create, enjoy, accept, trust, desire
Enjoy planting your garden of positive thoughts and seed your life and those around you with inspiring dialog.
March 2014 Monthly Practice – Creating Sacred Space
Our homes are supposed to be our places of refuge. Away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world, our homes allow us to find the space, the peace, the quietness to relax, renew and rejuvenate. But what if they don’t? What if our homes are filled with other people, pets, piles of paperwork, toys and bustling activity? In order to be better workers, better parents, better people we need to learn how to create inner peace. Exercise, meditation, relaxation all contribute to that but we also need to learn how to take time for ourselves and while vacations are great, they are not always accessible or affordable. Having a space in your home where you can go to relax, if only for a moment, can greatly reduce our stress levels and assist us in creating the much needed inner peace.
For this month’s Monthly Practice, we invite you to create a sacred space within your home. It could be a room, a closet, a nook. It could be anywhere where there is normally clutter and chaos but now will be a clutter-free, relaxing space. We invite you to spend 10 minutes a day in this space, every day for the month of March.
February 2014 Monthly Practice – Sleep
SLEEP: 8 ALL-NATURAL TIPS
For February, a month traditionally associated with love and romance, let’s take a look at our bedrooms – in particular, at how we can enhance our sleep. Sleep is important to your overall mood and good health. Imagine you are in the wilderness living in tune with nature and your natural cycles. Use this as a guide to examine the un-natural sleeping conditions you may have set up for yourself in your home.
Here are 8 natural tips to improve your vitality by improving your sleep:
1. Reinforce your natural cycle by going to bed at the same time every night. A routine will help set your internal clock, making it easier to fall a sleep and stay asleep.
2. Avoid the stimulating effects of caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Cut out caffeine-containing drinks and food—such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolate—by late afternoon every day. Be aware that alcohol has a stimulating effect that keeps you from sleeping restfully throughout the night. Also, using nicotine causes nighttime withdrawal and other unhealthy symptoms.
3. Create a cool and dark environment in your sleeping space. Striking a balance between room temperature, bed coverings and your sleep attire will reduce your core body temperature and help you fall asleep.
4. Create an electronic-free sleeping room. This includes your television, computer and clock radio, all of which can emanate electro-magnetic waves and light, thereby affecting your sleep. A recent study from Ohio State University found that even a small amount of ambient light—for example, from your mobile phone or computer—disrupts the production of melatonin, which then affects quality of sleep, mood, and can be detrimental to your health.
5. Avoid eating heavy meals before bedtime. Make dinner your lightest meal of the day, finishing it a few hours before bedtime.
6. Increase your physical activity during the day. Researchers at Northwestern University’s Department of Neurobiology and Physiology have found that sedentary adults who get aerobic exercise 4 times a week improve their sleep quality from poor to good.
7. Maintain your sleeping room just for sleeping, removing all distractions. Mindful intention will help you sleep better. Also, pets allowed in your room can disrupt your sleep with movement and noises, not to mention taking up space on your bed.
8. Introduce stress-reducing activities such as a relaxing bath, meditation or listening to meditative music right before bed. When you do too much you usually think too much. Learn to find ways to wind down by the end of the day.
For the practice of the month we invite you to create a ritual of meditating or listening to the relaxing sounds of OM Sanctuary’s waterfall and sounds of nature before you go to sleep. Below is a 30-minute relaxation/meditation video featuring OM Sanctuary’s waterfall, created by Taylor Johnson.
January 2014 Monthly Practice – Chromotherapy
Chromotherapy or color therapy can be traced back to the Egyptians in 1550 BC. Used throughout the centuries, chromotherapy has been used to heal a variety of ailments from stress to depression and anxiety. Chromotherapy is accessible to everyone and can be as simple as viewing certain colors for a period of time or wearing clothing of a certain colour. Many people are also utilizing color therapy through machines and light sources that can project colors on different parts of the body. View this video to see if color therapy resonates with you.
November/December 2013 Monthly Practice – Body Tapping
High blood pressure causes your arteries to harden and makes your heart work harder but some say you can lower your blood pressure through the simple technique known as Body Tapping. Body tapping can be done safely and in the privacy of your own home. Dr. Anne Marie Chiasson believes just 15 minutes a day can dramatically improve your health. View this video to learn more about this easy way to self care.
October 2013 Monthly Practice – A Walking Meditation
When most people think of meditation, they picture someone sitting down with their eyes closed and legs crossed. Durning the month of October, OM Sanctuary invites you to experience Walking Meditation. It is a powerful time of year to embrace this meditation form, especially for people who have trouble sitting for longer periods of time. Any time of day is perfect for a walking meditation and can be done in or outside; as long as you have reasonable light, relative silence, and a safe walking path. How far you can walk or your endurance level is irrelevant to the exercise, it is about being present, embracing peace and turning inwards so you can increase mindful awareness. Check out this video to learn how Thich Nhat Hanh describes walking meditation. Share your experience with us by writing [email protected]
September 2013 Monthly Practice – The Power of Breath
Testimonial Contest with Overnight Give-away
With the end of summer approaching and kids going back to school, our days are shorter and time seems to run together. In our busier moments we often forget the simple things we can do to lower our stress and feel better.
Each day take a moment – Any moment – While you’re waiting in line or in the shower when you’re getting ready for your day. Take an opportunity and breathe. 7 focused breaths – Slowly inhale through your nose to the count of 5 and then slowly exhale through your mouth, also to the count of 5. Repeat 6 more times.
We invite you to partake in this daily practice for 1 month. At the conclusion of September, email us at [email protected] and describe to us in 75 – 100 words (1-2 paragraphs) how this daily practice affected your stress level. Please be sure to include your full name and phone number with your entry. The winning entry will be randomly selected.
The winner will receive a free R&R stay (value $220) for 1 person for 1 night. Valid Wednesdays – Sundays. Overnight stay includes all Embodiment classes available on that day and a nutritious breakfast. Day-of access to our sauna, steam shower, meditation room, Serenity Garden, and Tranquility hiking trails are also included. The drawing will take place on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 and we will announce the winner in the October issue of The OM Monthly.