By GRACE HALLOCK
Ah, it’s time…take a breath and settle in. We’ve worked hard pondering authenticity, empowerment, and just being real. It’s time for a little self care and restoration. That just feels warm and inviting doesn’t it? Allow yourself the space just to be and breathe. I love this mindful breathing exercise from mindful.org:
- Find a relaxed, comfortable position. You could be seated on a chair or on the floor on a cushion. Keep your back upright, but not too tight. Hands resting wherever they’re comfortable. Tongue on the roof of your mouth or wherever it’s comfortable.
- Notice and relax your body. Try to notice the shape of your body, its weight. Let yourself relax and become curious about your body seated here—the sensations it experiences, the touch, the connection with the floor or the chair. Relax any areas of tightness or tension. Just breathe.
- Tune into your breath. Feel the natural flow of breath—in, out. You don’t need to do anything to your breath. Not long, not short, just natural. Notice where you feel your breath in your body. It might be in your abdomen. It may be in your chest or throat or in your nostrils. See if you can feel the sensations of breath, one breath at a time. When one breath ends, the next breath begins.
- Be kind to your wandering mind. Now as you do this, you might notice that your mind may start to wander. You may start thinking about other things. If this happens, it is not a problem. It’s very natural. Just notice that your mind has wandered. You can say “thinking” or “wandering” in your head softly. And then gently redirect your attention right back to the breathing.
- Stay here for five to seven minutes. Notice your breath, in silence. From time to time, you’ll get lost in thought, then return to your breath.
- Check in before you check out. After a few minutes, once again notice your body, your whole body, seated here. Let yourself relax even more deeply and then offer yourself some appreciation for doing this practice today.
So…how was it? You can be honest. I know breathing and relaxation looks different for everyone. It might be helpful to have someone actually read this to you rather than trying to breathe and read at the same time.
Also, this is a practice so don’t expect perfection, and I encourage you to take this time as often as you can. Incorporating pockets of peace and restoration into your life should be catered to your individual needs. So be curious, explore your needs, and find that cozy place within you that could use a little TLC from time to time.
And TLC doesn’t have to be breathing exercises or meditating (although as zen as it sounds, research shows these have unsurpassed health benefits), it could just be a sleepy Sunday morning or a stroll through the neighborhood. What recharges you and keeps your heart full?
There’s no need to overcomplicate it or think that self care is selfish. It’s absolutely necessary and imperative for whole health living. So thank yourself for the time you spent reading this today, remember to be kind to yourself, and I’ll see you next week!
Grace Hallock, MA, LPC-MHSP (temp), NCC, is the founder of R.E.A.L. Counseling Services in Brentwood, TN. She’s passionate about restoring and empowering others to embrace authenticity and cultivate lasting change. Learn more about Grace’s counseling services HERE.