How has a year and a half of social distancing affected our overall sense of wellbeing? Suffice it to say, many people have become disconnected, not only from other people but on a certain level, from themselves as well (too much screen time can do that).
Now that many of us have received our COVID-19 vaccinations, it’s tempting to jump right back into our old lifestyle, so to speak, especially with summer right around the corner.
Creating a new, “new norm” (as opposed to the “new norm” we developed under quarantine), is a topic worth exploring. On the one hand, we all want to get back out there and enjoy life the way we used to. But on the other hand, a new “new norm” gives us a chance to create a better blueprint for our lives. It’s the perfect opportunity to develop a Mind-Body practice and might be just what the doctor ordered.
Listening to your body, cultivating mindfulness, staying grounded, and taking time out to connect with the earth are all core components to developing a Mind-Body practice.
Here are 5 Mind-Body exercises to get you started:
It’s Simple, Just Breathe…
Find a quiet spot (preferably in a patch of sunlight) and take ten slow, deep breaths. If you’re standing, bring your awareness to your feet making contact with the floor, or if outside, the ground. If you’re sitting, feel your sitz bones (aka your “sitting bones”) making contact with the chair (or another surface).
Close your eyes if this helps bring your focus inward, and inhale. Imagine positive energy and light coming up from the earth into your feet/sitz bones and entering your body. With each exhale, breathe out any negative thoughts and feelings. Imagine the negative energy leaving your body and dispersing out into the universe.
Mindful breathing is a simple way to combat stress as it immediately brings oxygen to the brain, helps clear the mind, and keeps you grounded.
Water, Water Everywhere!
A recent study showed that just 2% dehydration is enough to impact cognitive performance. The implications of this are astounding, especially considering 75% of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration. What that boils down to (no pun intended) is 11.5 cups of fluids/day for women and 15.5 cups/day for men.
Given that our bodies are 60% water, it makes sense that immersing ourselves in water has many health benefits and is also very grounding, particularly if you’re in the ocean or any other natural body of water.
Water directly connected with the earth is charged with negative ions which have many positive effects on the body, like revitalizing cell metabolism, neutralizing free radicals, and purifying the blood. Of course, winter doesn’t give us this option (unless you’re a penguin), so an Epsom salt bath works well too.
Take a “Forest Bath”
Speaking of baths… In Japan, there’s a practice called shinrin-yoku (literally translated as “forest bathing”) whereby folks go for extended walks in the forest with the express purpose of bonding with nature to promote well-being.
Not only do trees absorb carbon dioxide and give us fresh air to breathe, but they also emit phytoncides, a natural compound that protects them from germs.
Breathing in these natural chemicals, in turn, helps us fight disease as well, as our bodies respond by producing Natural Killer (NK) cells which fight off infection and naturally boost our immune system.
Our interconnectedness with Mother Earth affects us on a cellular level, and the closer we get to “Her”, the more grounded we feel. After all, we share many of the same elements as earth: oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen, just to name a few.
The “Core” of Body Awareness
Bringing awareness to your core is another great way to maintain groundedness. The group of muscles that stabilize and control the pelvis and spine also keep the rest of the body in motion. But we’re not talking about developing six-pack abs here. It’s more about being mindful of your everyday movements through space in ways that preserve your energy rather than deplete it.
Yoga, tai chi, and qigong, in particular, are movement exercises that teach your body to do this through fluid exercises that incorporate breathwork, stretching, and meditative postures—all of which bring awareness to your core and activate restorative energy to your vital organs.
Focusing inwardly, whether it’s through prayer or meditation, is another way to stimulate your core, but on a more emotional and energetical level. Doing so regularly cultivates Qi (life force energy) and is another key ingredient for maintaining groundedness and body awareness.
The Power of Human Touch is Infinite!
Human beings are hardwired for touch from birth. Babies need human touch to feel nurtured and grow into healthy adults. The simple act of putting your hand on someone’s shoulder is like an anchor—physically, psychologically, and emotionally.
It sets off the neurochemicals in your brain that are hardwired for healing: oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. In fact, whole body systems respond to varying levels of touch, from hands-on to hands-off. Engaging another person’s energy field is a whole new level of “touch” humankind is now beginning to embrace (though energy healing and other indigenous types of healing have been around for centuries).
If a simple gesture like touching another person’s shoulder can do this, think of what massage therapy can do. Certain modalities are particularly grounding and more synonymous with a Mind-Body practice, like reflexology, acupressure, Somatic Experiencing, Reiki, emotional freedom technique, and functional relaxation, just to name a few. These alternative and complementary therapies will be explored in upcoming blog posts, so stay tuned.
So, if you’re looking to develop a new blueprint for your life—a New You—think about trying some of these Mind-Body techniques to get you started. And let me know in the comments section how it’s going!
Disclaimer: The content in this article should not be substituted for professional medical advice, diagnosis of medical conditions, or treatment. Consult your physician before starting any treatment plan. Reliance on information in this article or any linked websites is solely at your own risk.