Below are some strategies for relaxation and self-nurturing. I will often suggest one or more of these after a workshop or private guiding session.
Take three slow deep breaths through your mouth. Make the exhale longer than the inhale... Make a sound on the exhale, using your vocal chords. It’s like a sigh, and doesn’t involve pushing the sound out, but more letting it spill out.
As you exhale, follow the river of your breath with your relaxed attention, down your torso and through your root into the Earth. Let your shoulders go, and let the breath relax your body and awareness down and into your self. This is not an efforted breath, but a relaxed let-go breath. Notice the down-shifting in your awareness as you relax, even with just three breaths.
Draw a bath for yourself
Include bath salts and flowers if you have them. Dim the lights, choose soothing music, and luxuriate in the nurturing of your own body in the water. Make it a sacred ritual, where you consciously allow the water to be alive and filled with kindness, so that it envelopes you in both outer and inner warmth. No need to focus on trying to let go or receive: simply allow your body to enjoy the bath.
Take a series of slow deep breaths
Bring your awareness to the center of your brain. It’s further back in your head than you think. You’ll know you’ve found it when your thinking slows or stops altogether.
Take off your shoes and walk slowly and deliberately on the ground
Bring your awareness to the connection between your feet and the Earth, and with each exhale, allow your energy to spill out and down your body into the Earth. You can do this walking or standing or lying on the Earth.
Place your hands on a tree
Ask permission from the tree first. The tree can be a conduit to allow your excess stress and charge to flow into the Earth. For additional benefit, do this while barefoot. You can imagine your energy dropping into the Earth, and/or the Earth’s energy rising up into your body through your feet and hands.
Write down three things that you are grateful for
When we feel stuck, it’s often because we are pushing our noses against the wall, wondering why the door won’t open. Pulling back and getting some perspective can happen by simply focusing on what we are grateful for. The problems can move from foreground to background, as we remember that who we are as bigger than the challenges we have.
Do your best to be specific, and to send the message unconditionally, so that you aren’t expecting a reply or a complement returned to you.
Send a message to someone expressing your gratitude for them
Give to a stranger
This can be done for a homeless person, but can also be done in a toll booth (pay it forward), or a supermarket (pay for the items that someone is about to buy). You can give money, food, a flower, a hug, whatever allows the recipient to relax and feel good.
Do something for someone else
It could be someone you know, or someone you see in a café or on the street. Any gesture of kindness will help pierce through the veil of isolation for both of you.
Donate money to a cause
Even a small amount is an output of your time and energy, and can be a beautiful act of giving.
Instead of offering to give someone a hug, ask them for a hug
Allow yourself to receive the vulnerable pleasure of asking, and the pleasure of receiving.
Write yourself a love letter
You can fill it with ways that you appreciate yourself.
Look at yourself in the mirror
Do this for at least three minutes. Notice any noises that arise, where you might be judging and comparing yourself to an ideal or to the past or to others. Allow this uneasiness of the first minute or so to pass, until you arrive at a place of relative internal quiet as you look at yourself. From this deeper more centered place, tell yourself out loud “I love you,” several times, stepping through the discomfort and growing pains into stillness and appreciation.
Write an “emergency letter” from yourself to yourself
You can title it: “Read this if you are going through a hard time.” In your letter, share your wisdom with yourself, anticipating the patterns that may emerge, and offering yourself the perspective from your own center. If you like, you can start the letter with “Dear (your name) and end it with “Love, (your name).