I remember when exercise was part of my profession and I would constantly push my body to the limit. Back then I thought that if I was feeling tired or my immune system was low it was simply because I was training too hard. At the time I didn’t realise that stress and anxiety in general was also having an impact on my health. One thing I have definitely learned from teaching mindfulness meditation is that the tension and unease we hold in our minds comes out in different ways as disease in the body, and if we don’t consciously take time to nurture ourselves, we get forced to take some time out when we come down with a cold, flu or an injury.
With this in mind, I recently booked a session at a flotation pod. Taking the time out to nourish your body and mind is important – especially after a busy or stressful period. The studio I went to in LA is very appropriately called Pause Float Studio and these sorts of flotation pods are also popping up throughout the UK. The time I spent there was absolutely heavenly. You begin by climbing into some shallow water, which is filled with Epsom salts and around body temperature, and then you pull the lid down and lean back. It feels a bit like floating inside an egg or a cocoon and I was able to choose if I wanted to listen to a meditation and have some calming blue lights on. Everything about this experience encourages you to go within yourself and it’s so nurturing! I literally felt like I had completely unplugged from the world and could notice all my tension dissolve in the water. Many sports athletes find it beneficial to the body and science shows that flotation can actually help lessen stress, anxiety, pain and even depression and sleep disorders. I highly recommend it!
Try it now: De-stress the body
We often talk about how good meditation is for the mind but it has an equally beneficial effect on the body too. One of my favourite mindfulness meditations I teach is a body scan. What is so wonderfully fascinating about our bodies is the way we sometimes store stress, uncomfortable situations or worries in our body, making the neck tense, the muscles tired and sometimes even causing an uncomfortable or upset stomach. Not only are we going over and over situations in our minds but we are also bringing stress into ourselves. Doing a gentle body scan can release this and reset the body. It allows us to tune into different areas, let go of any tension and instead invite in a feeling of relaxation.
1. Sit or lie somewhere comfortable and close your eyes.
2. Tune into your breath by simply noticing how it comes in through the nostrils and travels all the way down into the belly and out.
3. Keep your focus on the breath and when your thoughts pull you away just keep focusing on your inhalation and exhalation.
4. Now bring your attention to your body as you scan through it slowly right from the bottom of your feet, up through the legs, stomach, chest, shoulders, throat and right up through the face to the top of your head. Pause at every area to check in and notice if there is anything there that you should let go of. If there is, imagine blowing it away as you exhale. Continue until you have scanned the entire body.
Calm Cure by Sandy Newbigging
Based on more than 15 years of research, this is the ultimate book to help you de-stress. From the first line I read I felt this sense of complete relaxation, as if I knew I was in safe hands. Sandy writes: “It is your relationship with life that ultimately determines your peace, health, wealth, happiness and life success” and this sums up what the book is about perfectly. It teaches us to stop resisting what is and make peace with life and explains how resistance to issues can cause problems in the body. In Sandy’s own words: “When you resist what you don’t want, you keep getting it. When you calm inner conflicts, new things can enter your life”. The book also talks in detail about the importance of self-awareness, which is a topic I feel strongly about. For me, this is absolutely key in making major changes in our lives and to understand ourselves better.