As anyone who struggled with anxiety knows, the brain has a way of playing tricks on us. Our built in biology, meant to keep us safe from potential threat, often seems like it needs a software update. Fight or flight response can kick in when there is nothing tangible to fight off or flee from. Before the discovery of neuroplasticity, it was thought that a person’s calm or not-so-calm demeanor was fixed. Now we know that, just as one can change the tone of a muscle through repeatedly exercising it, so too is it possible to change the brain through repeated exercises like meditation.
Granted, it is more challenging for some people to get to a state of calm due to nature, nurture, or a mix of the too. However, the idea of neuroplasticity is a hopeful one. There is something comforting in knowing that it is possible to change our state of being if we are willing to put in the time. Which begs the question….living in a world where downtime isn’t always readily available or even valued, how does one find the time? The following are a few ideas to squeeze calm-inducing rituals into your busy day:
-Practice pranayama at stoplights: You don’t have to be in yoga class to practice controlling the breath. Try inhaling and exhaling deeply at stoplights if you are a driver, or at crosswalks if you are a city dwelling pedestrian.
-Meditate under the covers: Go to bed a few minutes earlier at night or set the alarm a few minutes earlier in the morning to meditate in bed.
-Feel your feet on the floor: This is a great one to practice while waiting in line. Simply bring attention to your feet on the floor. If you want to be an over achiever, couple this with some deep breathing, and relax your shoulders and jaw while you are at it.
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