As an artist, when you feel off-balance and stressed, in the moment it may seem impossible to reset and come back into alignment. Although as humans we can’t change the emotions that arise, we can develop a new perception of our experience to transform tension into a state of equanimity.
The first step is to become aware that you’re off balance. Awareness is one of the greatest tools for creating change. Once you become aware that you’re off-center, you have the opportunity to make a conscious choice to shift your internal state and redirect your energy and focus.
Start each new day by closing your eyes, taking three deep breaths, and imagining that everything and everyone you approach is from a place of centered balance. Visualize seeing and feeling yourself moving effortlessly through every moment and experience with clarity, focus, and awareness. Allow this vision or sensation to become a guide for how you want to consciously move through each moment. How do you look? Are your eyebrows relaxed? Jaw relaxed? Shoulders back, down and relaxed? Notice how you begin to feel… more peaceful? More clear-minded?
Where you place your attention is critical. Direct your attention on your breathing. Your breath is your greatest tool for getting out of the chaos of your head and into your heart. Taking deep, purposeful breaths that fill your entire being can help activate and soothe your parasympathetic nervous system which then gives you a sense of calmness and clarity. Alternate nostril breathing is a particular style of breathwork that consists of breathing through one nostril at a time.
Instructions: Take your right hand thumb and ring finger (with pointer and middle finger facing down) and plug your right nostril with the thumb, breath in the left side nostril – hold – place the ring finger on the left nostril and breathe slowly out the right nostril. Keep left plugged, breathe in through right – hold – plug right and breathe out slowly through left nostril. Focus your attention on your chest rising and falling, the air filling the belly, or the air flowing through your nostrils. Repeat for a few minutes or breath cycles.
Next, begin to observe your thoughts and feelings. Did the way you were feeling shift by breathing and putting your attention wherever you felt sensation? Our emotions are like a small child tugging at the hem of our shirt; if we ignore them they just scream louder. We can’t change what’s happening, but with practice we can shift the way we relate to these emotions by giving them space to be acknowledged and focusing on our breath.
The final step towards finding your center is to set your intention for how you would like to respond to life’s challenges. Your intention might be to stop and slow down long enough to make a clear decision or to stay grounded in a state of acceptance. Maybe you have realized that you need to eliminate some activities and other commitments so that you have time in your schedule for relaxation and reflection. What would you like to experience? Be very specific. What choices would you like to make in the present moment? What possibilities are available to you?
From this place of clarity, peace, and balance you can respond rather than react to life’s challenges. Whether you’re having a difficult conversation with a coworker, experiencing tension in personal relationships, or the health of the world is compromised… this state of being is always here within you. We all fall back on old behavior patterns but we can choose to be compassionate and practice radical self-love throughout the process. With practice, you can increase the neuroplasticity of your brain and create new neural pathways into the future state you want to experience.
As we bravely continue on our individual mindfulness journeys, each time we enter a meditative state coming from a place of awareness, curiosity, and unconditional love we create a positive ripple effect that feeds into the collective consciousness. We are all interconnected by the human experience and together we can create a world of peace and harmony.
It all starts with your conscious breath.
If you need some music to ease your tension, enjoy the peaceful sounds of mind, body & soul on YouTube.
Source: Tris Thorp/The Chopra Center