Some days are like the conveyer belt in the I Love Lucy candy factory episode — relentless. Turn down the speed on your life with walking meditation. For 20 paces, walk as slowly as you can, feeling every inch of your feet as they move, hearing your breath flow through your lungs, and noticing all the smells and sounds around you. This simple practice helps you remember that every step we take is a little miracle.
Here's something nice for your feet that revitalizes your entire body: Fill one large bowl with hot water, and one with cold. Submerge your feet in the hot water for as long as you can, then switch to the cold. Repeat several times. The process draws circulation down to your feet and gets blood pumping throughout your body. It's faster than a nap and better for you (and cheaper) than a fancy coffee drink.
According to Ayurveda, the ancient tradition of medicine from India, a facial massage promotes health and brings out your inner radiance. Using your middle fingers, rub these points on your face in a clockwise direction for 20-30 seconds each: middle of the chin, corners of the mouth, middle of the area between your upper lip and nose, outer edges of both nostrils, center of the cheek bones, temples, and the space between the eyebrows.
Everyone has a gut instinct, but when our lives are fully scheduled, it doesn’t get the space it needs to rise to the top. Taking a walk with no particular destination in mind can help you get in touch with this inner wisdom. At every corner, ask yourself which way you should go, and follow whatever hunch you get. You might just be delighted with where you end up and what you experience along the way.
Welcome summer with some conscious restoration: Find a quiet place to lie on the floor or in the grass with your eyes closed. Breathe slowly and feel your body sink into the ground as you let go of your tension. Concentrate on one part of your body at a time, making sure each muscle is limp and loose. Starting with the top of your head, work your way down through your body silently repeating, "the top of my head is relaxed," "my jaw is relaxed," "my neck is relaxed." Work all the way to your toes. When done, roll to your side and slowly come back up to sitting.
Turn tonight's household chores into meditation in motion. While cleaning up after dinner, feel the sensations in your body as you work, notice how your breath flows in and out, savor the way things feel. When your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to your task. This practice keeps you rooted in the present moment, instead of reliving past events or anticipating the future. The result? A calmer, more attentive you.
Declare your independence from hiding your true feelings by choosing one day this week to pretend that you've swallowed truth serum. The goal isn't to drop bombshells ("I've always hated you in black"), but to be honest in loving way. For example, "I'd love to meet for dinner this weekend, but I am tired and need to rest. Let's pick another time." It's incredibly liberating and is a quick way to reduce your stress levels.
That quality of air that emanates from trees...wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit. —Robert Louis Stevenson
Spend time this week sitting under a tree. If you can, bring a blanket and settle in. But even if you only have 5 minutes on your next dog walk, do it. Taking a break from the beeps, rings, and honks of modern life to listen to the leaves rustling in the wind is soothing and uplifting (and free).
Hot temperatures got your temper flaring? Next time an aggressive driver cuts you off, or a co-worker sends a snippy email, or you trip over your teenager's skateboard, try saying this small phrase: bless their heart. It's a short and simple reminder that the person you're angry with is human and could probably stand a little forgiveness. It also benefits you by deflating your anger and boosting your compassion. Not bad for three little words, huh?
Dreading another week? Counteract that feeling with deep breathing. Lying on the floor, rest your hands on your belly and feel them rise and fall with your breath. Begin breathing first into the belly, then the rib cage, and finally the chest. Exhale in the reverse order — chest, ribs, stomach. Continue for five minutes. You’re flushing stale air and ushering in fresh oxygen — perfect for letting out old stresses and preparing for the week ahead.
Of all the things you do in a week, how many of them do you actually enjoy? This week, treat yourself to some time with someone you admire whose company makes you feel great. We all need real-life role models; spending time with yours can help you remember what’s most important to you. If you can’t see each other face to face, call them on the phone or write an old-fashioned letter.
Downtime has become a dirty word, but it’s a vital component of a healthy lifestyle. As world famous yoga teacher Donna Farhi writes: By not doing so much, we create natural pauses to reflect. This week, find 10 minutes in your schedule to do nothing — sit outside and feel the breeze on your cheek, or lie on the floor and listen intently to your favorite song. No reading, no TV, no talking on the phone. Just be.