Coping With Difficult Times Part 2

October 14, 2008

The body-mind connection

Do you ever notice how you walk tall with shoulders back, head held high and confidence in your stride when you feel good about yourself? When you feel like you want to hide from the world, do you notice that your posture droops and you look like you are caving in on yourself? It is true that our psychological state affects our physiology and it is also true that you can affect your psychological state by paying attention to your physiology. Working on the body-mind connection is one of the best ways to have clarity in these difficult times. We can choose to make the best of a depressing situation by keeping our bodies fit and our minds free of negativity. Research suggests that physical activity increases mood-enhancing neurotransmitters in the brain, raises endorphins, reduces stress, and relieves muscle tension which all helps to relieve depression and increase emotional well-being.

Yoga and Tai Chi

Yoga and Tai Chi are two forms of exercise that strengthen our bodies and enhances the smooth flowing of our energy. These exercises consist of slow movements and holding postures that unblock stuck energy caused by stress and difficult emotions. Practicing Yoga and Tai Chi focuses our minds, slows down our hyperactive physiology and immerses us in a deep serenity. Engaging in these practices helps us to stay grounded and to have clarity when all else is chaotic and disturbing. If you have access to classes in your area, that is the best way to learn. It is possible to learn from a DVD but is easier if you are guided by a teacher in a class, otherwise, there are several beginners DVDs available online that have good reviews that you might want to try.

Enjoying Exercise

The key is to pick an activity you enjoy, so you’re more likely to keep up with it. In the Pacific Northwest where I live, the weather is gray, wet and overcast, especially in the winter months. It is easy to feel depressed when the barometer drops outside and to get all wrapped up in a heavy gray mood. I have found that the best way to get out of a rut is to get dressed for the weather and to go out walking in the rain. The cool fresh air, walking in the puddles, and the feeling of expansion being out in the open, invigorates my body, my mind and spirit and I soon begin to feel alive again. I often go walking without the distraction of listening to music on my mp3 player. I like using my time in Mindfulness Meditation, being aware of the rhythm of my feet touching the ground and of my breathing. I notice the textures and colors of the foliage and tree trunks, the sounds of the birds, the smells in the air and the shapes of the houses. When I focus in this way, my mind is not chattering, worrying, and criticizing; I am present and happy taking in what is around me. When my mind is quiet, I sense the beauty of my surroundings as an inner experience; my own beauty; I am one with my environment.

Getting outdoors and connecting with nature is the most enjoyable way to exercise. I am an avid gardener and that takes up most of my summer. In the winter, I enjoy beach combing, and hiking on the great beaches and hiking trails available here on the coast of British Columbia. When I am in the great outdoors, time stops for me, I feel phsically invigorated, my mind is clear and I feel so grateful for the beauty and serenity of this part of the earth where I live. I am in touch with who I am and I know that no matter what goes on in the world around me, the essence of who I am is not affected. It is a great gift to be able to experience peace on the inside even if the outer world is in chaos. The value of that gift can never diminish.

To be continued.

{ 2 comments }

1 Alexys Fairfield 10.15.08 at 7:50 pm

Hi Miruh,
I read an interesting thing about depression. Instead of thinking of ourselves as being depressed, we can think of ourselves as going through a depression; that way we have already separated it from ourselves. It is easier to remove ourselves from that state if we feel it is not inside of us.

I like walking in the rain. Here in Southern California, it is usually a warm rain that heightens the smell of nature; leaves, grass, flowers, etc. It also brings out the smell my neighbor’s cooking too. Mmmmmmm. Isn’t nature the elixir of life?

Peace my friend.

2 Miruh 10.15.08 at 10:15 pm

Hi Alexys,
I like that expression,” Going through a depression.” It’s like saying, “I’m going through a difficult period.” It implies that it is just a phase, that it will pass. Thanks for sharing that! Depression is so prevalent today and for some, there is a feeling of hopelessness attached to it; a feeling that it will never go away.

We envy you in Southern California, with real sunshine and a little rain. Here in British Columbia, we make do with liquid sunshine.
We can still go singing in the rain and be happy anyway!

May it never rain on your parade! 😀

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