“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” ~ Jean Shinoda Bolan
When our kids were little I read them a lot of books. I can picture sitting on the sofa with our four little, pajama-clad wiggle-worms, smelling of baby shampoo and Desitin, settling in for a few moments of quiet before bed. One of my favorite books to read was “Five Minutes Peace” by Jill Murphy.
The story is about Mrs. Large, a momma elephant and her three young (elephant) children. Mrs. Large decides that she needs five minutes of peaceful time to herself so she quietly sneaks off to take a bath. She has barely settled into the suds when the first child appears in need of attention. It’s a great story that any parent can relate to. In fact, we all should indulge ourselves in a few moments of “me time” each day. As difficult as it might be to carve out the time, the reward of a renewed spirit, or clearer mind, are well worth the effort.
So, as we step aboard the Express Train we call, “The Holidays,” I urge you to tune in to your own mind and body and give yourself a full five minutes each day to unplug, unwind, rejuvenate, rest and decompress. Below are a few nuggets of suggestion to consider:
- Begin with positive thought. If you’re like most people, your day begins by looking at a screen. Cell phone, computer or television. Our eyes open and we look to our “information service” of choice to see what we missed in the hours we were asleep. Perhaps, instead of reaching for a device, we simply keep our eyes closed and begin the day with a single, positive thought. Filling ourselves up with “I am happy, I am healthy, I am alive.”
- Exercise. Recently I was at a wedding and I took full advantage of the opportunity to dance. It didn’t matter if I had a dancing partner. I just got out on the floor and moved. A lot. So much so that the next day I could barely walk. My knees protested loudly and muscle pain emerged in places I’d forgotten existed. So, I practiced some very gentle yoga. Simple, careful stretches that I eased into delicately. And I was rewarded with freedom of movement and a renewed respect for my body’s own healing power.
Exercise doesn’t have to be a marathon or an hour of cardio. Take a few moments to walk around your neighborhood, orride your bike to the store. Wade through the Gulf, sweep the garage, or do a few simple stretches that reach places you’ve been neglecting.
- Breathe mindfully. Of all the things we take for granted, I believe breathing is at the top of the list. Without giving our breath a single, conscious thought, it sustains our lives. It brings oxygen to each cell of the body, keeping the lungs full and the heart pumping. So, what if we breathe mindfully? What if we pay attention to the breath and start by completely filling the lungs, expanding all the muscles between the ribs? And when we exhale, we control the outflow of breath, extending it to a long, slow stream, by consciously expanding the diaphragm? The truth is, as we become aware of the breath, our blood pressure will lower, our mind will clear, and in turn, we will give the muscles that create breath a genuine “work out,” keeping them healthy and strong.
- Relax. Mrs. Large had the right idea in the book “Five Minutes Peace.” All she wanted was a few minutes in the bathtub. No phone, no decisions, no motherly responsibilities. Just five minutes.
‘Tis the season of giving, and we are often inclined to extend generosity to others much more spontaneously than we give to ourselves. Perhaps you might identify what relaxation means to you and then give yourself permission to indulge in it; Every day of your life. Take time, create space, and invite relaxation into your world, if only for five minutes. And if you’re at a loss as to how you might find time to reward yourself with any one of the above ideas, I have one last thought that will efficiently combine positive thought, exercise, breath and relaxation into one beautiful five minute span of time. In yoga, we call it “Legs Up the Wall.”
Place a blanket on the floor near a wall. Give yourself some cushion under your back, head and neck. Then slide your feet straight up into the air with the backs of your legs and your glutes hugged up against the wall.
Once you’re situated against the wall, begin to pay attention to your breath. On your inhale, say to yourself, “I breathe in peace,” and as you exhale, say, “I breathe out chaos.”
Positive thought, gentle exercise, mindful breath and relaxation. Five minutes a day. Every day. Your gift to you. Enjoy!
Laurie Kasperbauer is an active Florida Realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. Laurie also enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes.