Self-care for Sensitive Souls
Reconnect with your inner resources
When you’re in the thick of it, and you need to slow down from feeling like a billion banshees are shrieking all at once in your head (or whatever stressed-out feels like for you), you need something that works now.
Well, good news. You have just the thing for the job.
You may not be able to change the situation you’re in, and you probably won’t find it helpful in the heat of the moment to give yourself a stern lecture about how you shouldn’t get so stressed.
But you can pull some helpful tools out of your meditative medicine bag to help you deal better with what’s happening.
So today I thought I’d just remind you of what they are …
First let’s just paint the picture a bit more, so we know what we’re talking about here. Let’s say …
You’re obsessing about something, and it just won’t stop going in ever-tightening circles
A significant other has been pushing your buttons
The chronic discomfort that usually nags around the 3 out of 10 mark, has shot up the dial to 17
You’re going to be late, and that seriously wasn’t the plan
Whatever habitually sets you off is doing its thing, and now is not the time
All of the above
And let’s suppose you don’t have any chocolate. So the situation is dire.
But all is not lost. Here are three trusty basics to love yourself back into connection with your wise self.
So here we go, give yourself a tiny break, try the ones that speak to you, and see how you feel.
Put one hand over your heart, and the other over your belly.
Feel the warmth building under your hands and see how that might encourage you to breathe into it, fully and slowly.
Allow your hands to bring your own loving healing touch to yourself.
Stay like this for a bit. Breathe and notice the comfort of reconnecting with yourself and being more embodied and more grounded. Feel for the ahhh of it. Enjoy the warmth of your hands, the gentle movement of your ribcage in and out. Don’t think, just notice.
That’s all … stay here and gently get back in your body, where you can feel intuitively what you need, what feels right and what doesn’t. From this embodied and connected place, you have more ease for dealing with whatever's troubling you in the moment.
Here’s another one, specially for you if you find imagery helpful.
So close your eyes, just let them close. And imagine your heart in your chest is like a beautiful sun, or some other source of comforting light, like perhaps a lamp. Now visualise it getting gradually brighter and warmer. Pay attention in your mind’s eye to the colour as it gets brighter.
Now imagine that with each breath, you’re bringing a flow of kindness into your heart, which feeds the light and makes it glow even more brightly.
Notice what that feels like. Lean into it. You’re bringing that feeling of kindness into this place in your heart. Let the light gently glow, and when it feels beautifully bright, expand it out beyond your body, and gently put the tips of your fingers of both hands together, a simple yoga nidra for relaxation.
This openness of heart brings your inner strength to the surface and that changes the way you look at what's going on for you.
Breathing by numbers
If there's no time for niceties, then a really simple - and fast-acting - way to quiet your mind is to change your breathing.
This is so basic, but often when we’re in a tailspin, we forget that we know this stuff.
Try breathing in and out through your nose, and on the in-breath count in for 2, and on the out-breath extend it to 4 counts. Actually do the counting in your mind, not out loud, but do count. It gives your brain something to focus on which is meditative and calming.
You could equally well breathe in for 3 and out for 6 if you want. What matters is that you breathe out for twice as long, as this is what soothes your nervous system.
The beauty of this breathing of course is you can do it wherever you need to - in the car, in a meeting, in the middle of an edgy conversation … anywhere.
Ahhh … that’s better
Any one of these techniques can take you from freaked-out to calm and composed fairly simply, which makes them handy to have in your pocket when you need them. I'd encourage you to experiment and practise them often, so you don’t forget you have them.
Pick one that works and find a regular time of day, or an everyday cue (like waiting for your computer to boot up, for example), that reminds you to do it. It’s a very practical way of keeping up an informal meditation practice that repays your efforts any time you need it. The more you practise, the more readily your nervous system will respond, because you’ll have created a shiny new neural pathway.
And it definitely works better than giving yourself a hard time. (You could probably let that neural pathway fall into disrepair a little bit, and no harm done.)
If you need support in developing your meditative self-care, you’re warmly invited to join us for Sunday morning meditation at Toddington, where we look out over beautiful countryside as we quietly come home to ourselves. If you’d like one-to-one support to ease anxiety and pain, you might find gentle bodywork very helpful.