• Alexa de los Reyes

What message are you sending yourself?

I have a feeling that right now you're holding some stress and tension in your body. Tight shoulders? Clenched jaw? Furrowed brow? These postures and positions create a vicious circle -- they tell your nervous system that there's something to be stressed out about, perpetuating a state of "high alert." Do you have 30 seconds to spare? Let's take advantage and change the message.

Find your way to sitting with a straight spine. Place both hands on your thighs. Drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth. Release your jaw. Relax your brow. Soften your gaze. Take a slow, cleansing inhale and exhale.

Next, while inhaling through the nose gently roll your shoulders forwards and up towards your ears, then exhale through the mouth, making a "haaa" sound, and roll them back and down. Repeat a few times. So much better already!

Now close your eyes and look upwards 45 degrees. Consider bringing a soft smile to your lips. Inhale slowly through the nose to the count of four. Exhale slowly through the nose to the count of six or eight. Repeat once or twice. Then release your posture, gently open your eyes, and return to breathing normally.

How do you feel now? A bit more calm and centered? Relaxed and focused? Controlled breathing, especially with a lengthened exhale, gives the nervous system an important message -- that it can let down its guard in this moment. Change your breath, change your whole state.

If you have a few more minutes to spare for your mental, emotional, and physical well-being and by extension the well-being of everyone you're connected to (which, energetically, is everyone!), consider trying one or both of these guided meditations, below. The first focuses on the breath. The second generates the incredibly healing, uplifting, expansive energy of compassion -- something we all could use a bit more of for ourselves and for the world.

Yin/Yang Breathing Meditation from selfcompassion.org (15 minutes)

Compassion Meditation from the Greater Good Science Center (30 minutes, or self-guided)

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