This practice comes from a lesson learned just a few weeks ago. I had been out at a fascinating workshop for school on Theta healing (which I hope to learn more about and give you an update later) and got home pretty late. By the time I got back, it was at least 10:30 (which, on a school or work night is pretty darn late to us!) and my husband was waiting for the clothes to be finished in the dryer. Since we hadn’t seen each other all day, we wanted to catch up and chat. Once it was finally time to go to bed, I remembered that we needed to change the sheets.
So folks, the moral of the story is: GET GREAT SLEEP! Forget good sleep, get amazing, incredible, mind-blowing and life-changing slumber. Out of all the things you can do for your body, it is truly is one of the most important.
So how much sleep is enough sleep? It depends but Ayurvedically, vata people need the most sleep, pittas need a moderate amount and kapha folks need the least. Of course, this doesn’t take into consideration what kind of imbalance a person might be going through, the season, the cycle of their life, etc. It is safe to say that eight hours of sleep a night is a great target for everyone. An Ayurvedic sleep schedule would be a bedtime of no later than 10pm and waking up at least at 6am. If you can’t get to sleep by ten, please please please get to bed before midnight! Multiple studies have been done proving that the actual quality of sleep after midnight is significantly lower than sleep before then. One of the most beneficial practices you can get into the hang out is picking a bedtime and sticking with it. Ayurveda is all about consistency, so establishing a routine for when and how you will be resting will pacify vata (which almost everyone had too much of these days) and allow your body to recharge its batteries.
I consider this daily practice one of the most important ways to restore health and happiness. Being outside in nature does so much for your spirits and your body. When you develop a regular practice of spending time outside, you become more aware. Of the birds chirping, of the wind rustling, of the warmth of the sun shining upon your face. This awareness boosts our vitality, our presence in this world and actually changes the chemical balance of our bodies! When we spend time in mindful awareness, especially outdoors in a natural environment, our neurotransmitter levels shift, flooding our systems with serotonin (“the happy hormone”) and reducing our levels of cortisol (“the stress hormone”). This balances our GABA levels, allowing for more restful sleep and a stronger immune system.
On a more emotional level, getting outside (especially when you are down) can help tremendously with issues and problems you may have in your life. I know from personal experience, when I am feeling really depressed I don’t want to go outside. But those are the times that you should definitely be out and about! Taking a walk to my neighborhood park or by the surrounding area of redwoods by my old house (boy, was I lucky in Berkeley!) did wonders. When you participate in nature, you begin to remember our part in this Universe and suddenly, your problems don’t seem so soul-crushing anymore. It gives the great gift of perspective and when done on a regular basis, can restore your outlook on life in many important ways.
What about if you live in a city? Well, for me (now living in downtown San Francisco), finding just one spot that I can go to is all I need. I retreat to my (tiny) back yard and sit on a wicker chair. I close my eyes, bask in the loving energy that the sun radiates down to us and practice deep breathing. Being aware of all that is around me and of my place in the macrocosm of the Universe, I am able to process my emotions, feelings and experiences in a healthy and healing way.
So try it out. It may just be a walk around your block while you notice little flowers by the curb. Or it may be to sit in your favorite park, or the garden of your local house of worship. Even practicing this exercise while waiting on a busy street for the bus can be extremely beneficial, as the incredible gift of our planet is always and forever surrounding us with love and care.
[incredible photo of Oregon from Bliss Blog ]
Hello there dear friends! Hope your week has been lovely. Things have been good around here and this time, the cleanse seems to be flying by (which I think is a good sign, since the first 21-day detox I did a few years ago seemed to last forever!)
I wanted to introduce you to a new series round here called “radiant practices”. I am delving further into ritual, routine and lifestyle in both my studies as well as my personal life and thought I would start sharing some practices with you that can make you feel more radiant inside and out!
Radiant Practice #1: Daily Heart Time
We are all so busy with our lives, there doesn’t ever seem to be enough time to get it all done. I know that the first thing that usually suffers is our own time for growth, rest and relaxation. Throughout my very busy last few years, I have realized just how important it is to make that time a priority. Everyday. No excuses, no procrastinations, just scheduling it in as if it were a super important meeting.
So why is this kind of time so important? We spend so much of our day doing other people’s work. Giving our energy to others, working for someone else, listening to the problems of our friends or partners, etc. And while being of service is important, we can’t do our best out in the world (let alone sustain that energy in the long-term) if we don’t put ourselves first sometimes.
Especially since we are all so busy and stressed, it is essential to do something that makes your heart happy. Of course, this will look different for everyone. Someone might use this time to go on an aggressive bike ride while another might use it to nap with their kitty. The point is, find something that truly makes your heart happy and go for it! It doesn’t have to be a huge deal, but make sure you are consistent and schedule it in pen, not pencil!
Personally, this cleanse has heightened my intuition big time. It has been a really amazing experience, just being able to hear the voices and guidance from myself even more than usual and I am trying to make the most of that. Last night, I had a powerful sense of urgency surge through me and I knew what I needed to make my heart-happy practice: read A Course in Miracles. It has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time and although I have been wanting to read it, now I know the time has come. So until I am done, my heart-happy practice will be 30 minutes of reading ACIM everyday. It doesn’t matter if I am stressed, busy or burnt out. Giving myself the time to do something spiritually fulfilling refuels my inner self and allows me to be more present and productive out in the world.
So I ask you, dear readers: what will your heart-happy practice be?
[medicine image from The Wastetime Post]