Bringing ease into our lives requires specific tools—something more than just telling ourselves to “let it go.” When we worry about the future or rehash the past, the body may feel that tension as if it was happening in the present moment. Thus, the most effective methods work from the inside out, relaxing the body and mind together.
Here are five simple tools for creating more ease in your life.
A regular practice of journaling allows us to reflect on and process the day’s events and our reactions to them. You might have the time or inclination to write for just three to five minutes, or as long as 15 to 20 minutes—it doesn’t matter. Journaling pushes the pause button quiets the mind and stills the body. You might want to read over what you’ve written, observing your reflections without judgment. I like to look back at what I’ve written in the past days and weeks; when I recognize recurring themes running through my entries, I can see that these are the lessons I’m working on at this particular point in my life. It’s a way to keep track of my journey.
Meditation on the breath. Beginners as well as experienced meditators can benefit from the simple, powerful practice of watching the breath. Notice the sensation of air coming in through your nostrils and then going out. Is the air slightly cooler as you inhale and warmer as you exhale? ? How does your breathing sound and feel? Focusing on the qualities of the breath is a powerful technique for stilling the mind. When your mind wanders, simply bring it back to the sensation of the air moving in and out.
Nature visualization. Whether you live in an urban setting, work in an office, or both, you might not get as much opportunity as you’d like to immerse yourself in nature. One way to do that is by visualizing it. Take a few moments each day, wherever you are, to close your eyes and picture yourself in apark with lots of green space. Imagine taking off your shoes and walking on the grass. Is it cool? Damp? Notice any fragrances and other sensations. Find your way to an imaginary bench and let your body relax into it. (It’s best to practice this in a relaxed position, sitting or lying down.) Look around you, and focus on a tree or flower nearby. What details do you notice that you might not usually observe—the tree’s bark, the shape of the leaves, or the many shades of green? Entering this peaceful place in your mind creates a similar effect as actually being there: Your heart rate slows, your muscles relax, your breathing quiets, and the nervous system relaxes.
Conscious eating. Once or twice a week, have a meal by yourself without distractions. Begin with a moment of silence and gratitude. Think about where the food has come from and who has prepared it. When you take the first bite, chew slowly and experience the flavors and textures. Savor each bite. Mindful eating can have a beneficial impact on your sense of ease.
Love your yoga practice. Allow your time on the mat to be about luxuriating in your body and its ability to move in any way it can.. Let yoga be a practice that feels good, first and foremost. Refrain from judging your limitations or stiffness. One of Kripalu’s essential teachings, self-observation without judgment, is critical in creating ease in the body. A focus on building strength and flexibility can come after you’ve befriended your body.
Vandita Kate Marchesiello shares her tips for creating ease at Kripalu. Join her to practice these tools and more!