When faced with the stressors of life, we wish we could RENEW ourselves: our thoughts, feelings and reactions. Let go of the old, the painful, the exhausting, the stressful… all the things that do not serve us, and find that place of true inner peace that is us – irrevocably us – to the core. That pure joy and inner tranquility is not a distant dream. It’s within our reach. Here are some techniques that I’ve learnt on my inner journey to finding myself, that help me release and renew.
When in crisis/faced with difficult emotions:
1. Go back to your breath.
Focus on your breath. Breathe deep into your belly. Breathe in for 3-5 counts, hold it in for the same amount of time and exhale slowly (for instance 5-5-5). Find a go-to breathing exercise that suits you and it will help melt away negativity in times of need. Kundalini yoga, for instance has different types of valuable breathing techniques.
2. Take a time out
When in a tough situation, give yourself a break: go get a glass of water, go to the bathroom, breathe, pause and take some time out just for yourself to observe your thoughts, feelings and reactions in a non judgmental way.
Some emotions are so painful that sometimes the best way to release them is to feel the pain or negative emotion. Sit with the feeling (anger, sadness, pain, anxiety etc) and let your emotions flow. Cry if need be, scream into a pillow, sigh loudly, shake it off, go for a run…do what you must to allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling instead of escaping it. These will help channel the negativity in a positive, healthy way.
4. Clear your mind: Meditate
Once you have observed your thoughts/feelings and released the negative energy, you can focus on achieving zero mind: elimination of mind chatter, pesky thoughts and feelings. You can achieve this with meditation or mindfulness. For the skeptics out there, meditation is not necessarily sitting in a loin cloth in lotus pose with superhuman concentration in a dark incense filled room. Meditation is connection to your true self. Instead of running away from your feelings, just sit with yourself. Close your eyes, focus on your breath or use a positive word that resonates with you, that you can focus on, like ‘peace’ or the sanskrit mantra ‘So Hum’ (I am). Allow thoughts to come, just observe them without judgement and let them go, like clouds passing by. When you get to that gap between thoughts you will feel bliss and peace. Do not sit, however, with an intention of finding the bliss or it will escape you. Accept and do not judge your practice, no matter what your outcome is.
Meditating is also enjoying something with your full awareness: for instance, regarding daily activities- do them mindfully with all your senses and your focused attention eg. mindful walking/running, mindful breathing, mindful eating, mindful cooking etc. Be in the present moment, savour the sights, sounds and smells. The warmth and smell of your cup of coffee, the sights of flowers blossoming, the sound of a child’s laughter, the view during your daily commute…
5. Listen to soothing music
Music can be soothing and restorative. Use your favourite go-to tracks to disconnect with the outside world and reconnect to yourself.
In less critical, but still difficult moments, the following will help renew your state of mind:
- Have a ‘crappy day’ to-do list
We all have bad days. For such days, keep a to do list of happy things you love to do that have the restorative power to make you feel good (no matter how small): drink a cup of tea/coffee, take a warm shower, go for a walk, watch a funny movie, read your favourite book, open the window to let in the fresh air etc. Make sure it’s something that makes you happy on the inside.
- Show self love and compassion
Be kind to yourself, speak to yourself with love and empathy, like you would speak to a younger you (read child version of you) or a friend. If critical or negative self talk comes up, just tell yourself “cancel” or “delete” and then replace it with a positive thought.
- Have a “Renewal + Treat yourself” ReTreat
Create a haven at home for yourself and enjoy a retreat day for yourself: for instance, a day with a restorative workout/yoga session, fun music, yum food, a luxurious bath and a movie night with popcorn (your comfy PJs and cosy fluffy socks are optional but a great plus!!). You could treat yourself to a spa day, have an afternoon date at a coffee shop with (wait for it) yourself, a day at a museum/park/beach… whatever consists pampering in your world. Take a few hours just for yourself to do something indulgent because hell yeah, you deserve it!
- Do something good for others
Studies have shown that benevolence increases happiness. Volunteering, doing random acts of kindness for others or even a simple, kind gesture like a smile or holding the door open for someone can give you an instant boost.
Get into a daily/weekly meditation practice. Closing your eyes, breathing, letting go of mental chatter and just being, even for a few minutes, is meditation. Mindfulness exercises consist of focusing on sounds around you, on your breath or awreness of your body. Do whatever feels good for you. Close your eyes, relax and breathe: that’s your getaway from stress and your gateway to peace and calm.
Mindfulness has received so much attention lately and for good reason. It teaches you to observe and acknowledge thoughts, feelings and events with Acceptance and Non judgement. Another concept is to exercise being fully present in the moment. It is an extraordinary tool that will not only renew you but also revolutionise your way of looking at things.
- Connect to others, have a support system
Sometimes talking to friends/family, getting their point of view or just being in the presence of positive people helps alleviate negative emotions and helps you feel renewed.
- Get inspired
Read books by inspiring people, famous authors and influential personalities … these will inspire and renew you. Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday is a great way to learn about such inspiring people. Among the best inspiring authors are Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now), Byron Katie, Jon Kabbat Zin, Pema Chödrön, Maya Angelou, Thich Nhat Hahn, Robin Sharma, Brene Brown…
- Live your passion
What are you passionate about? What is your purpose? Make a dream board, write down your dreams and goals and how you will work to move towards them. This detaches you from the everyday grind and helps you regain the fire in your belly that will propel you forward. For your life purpose to really mean something, you would want to live your passion with the hope of helping others.
- Go global
Dream big. Bring your passion to the world stage. Share it with the world via your platform of choice eg social media, writing etc. Working on your passion for other people renews you inside out and makes you a whole new person.
Love and light,