BreathE

 

Take a deep breath. It calms the mind. - Regina Brett

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The majority of people have either very shallow breathing, or for extended periods of time, hold their breath without much notice. Today we live in a time where we are much more sedentary and often more in our heads than in our bodies. The detachment from the body makes it easy for us to not be aware of our breath.

Shallow breathing and the holding of breath will trigger what is called as the fight or flight response, the stress response of the sympathetic nervous system. This stress response creates emotional and physical turmoil within the mind, body, and spirit. By taking a few deep breaths the fight or flight response quickly dissipates, activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which brings about calm.

Research on deep breathing has found that it reduces anxiety and depression, increases healthy sleep, assists in the balancing of emotions, and promotes physical wellbeing.

Whether in the morning when you are beginning your the day, when you are at school and/or work, at the end of your day, or even preparing for sleep, deep breathing is an incredible tool that promotes stress reduction and calm.

A multitude of breathing techniques exist, and all of them are incredibly beneficial. But for today, I would like to focus on a simple deep breathing technique that is one of my favorites; the 4 Count Breath.

The beauty of the 4 Count Breath is that it can be done anywhere, at any time. It is a great tool for rebalancing, recentering, and reducing stress.

4 Count Breath

Sit comfortably; feet on the ground; hands in your lap.

1. Take a deep deep breath in to the count of four

1 – 2 – 3 – 4. 

2. Now hold your breath there and count to four

1 – 2 – 3 – 4.

3. And now exhale to the count of four

1 – 2 – 3 – 4.

4. Then take a deep deep breath in…and out.

You can do this for as many rounds as you like.

I recommend at least 3 rounds.

 

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Watch the mind become more still, the body more calm, and the spirit open up.

We will definitely return to this self care tool in the future – for there are so many incredible breathing techniques for stress reduction, letting go, resetting, rebalancing, relaxing, and all things self-care.

 

Photos and artwork by Sean Kelley.

 
 
 

Gratitude

If the only prayer we ever say is ‘thank you,’ that would be enough. – Meister Eckhart

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1. With paper and pen write down 5 people you are grateful for.

This can be friends, family, a favorite teacher, neighbor, etc.

2. Choose one (or more) and write a thank you card to send to them.

Thank the person(s) for something wonderful they have done…or how they have helped you…or inspired you or for simply being them!

If you love being creative, grab some construction paper, scissors, and glue and make the card yourself! (Again this can be fun as a group activity)

3. Mail, email, or text your card of thanks to the chosen person(s).

I prefer snail mail, there is something magical about it in this day and age, but email and text are powerful as well!

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You never know who needs to hear words of love and gratitude. Participating in an activity such as this, is like a little surprise and act of kindness wrapped into one.

This type of exercise not only fills one with the energy of gratitude, but like magic - sends it out to another.

This type of energy can heal the world.

Additional Activity:

If you want to keep this energy going, try writing a thank you card to yourself. This is a private assignment. It could be done in a formal thank you card or simply in your journal, but it should be focused on the wonderful aspects of you!

Thanking your incredible body for it’s remarkably and tireless work at keeping you alive; Thanking your incredible mind for it’s creativity and wisdom; Thanking your beautiful heart for the love it bestows to oneself and to others.

 

P.S. I am grateful for you!

 

Photos and artwork by Sean Kelley.

 

Awareness & Compassion

Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. – Carl Jung

 
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What is Self-Compassion?

In the simplest terms, self-compassion is being kind to oneself. Research has found incredibly positive results with self-compassion:

  • Increased overall personal health and wellbeing
  • Enhanced social connection and life satisfaction
  • Strengthened curiosity, optimism, happiness, and wisdom

The critical and judgmental mind can be quite powerful and our society only reinforces it. However, with the use of self-compassion we diffuse this energy by being gentle with oneself.

Self-compassion can include:

  • Making time for self
  • Creating healthy boundaries
  • Extending compassion to others

Self-compassion has the potential of transforming not only one’s inner landscape, but also all of one’s outer life as well. Incorporating self-compassion into your day-to-day life will not only help in those moments of increased vulnerability and stress, but with time will become a habit.

 
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How Self-compassionate Are You?

This question is not one of judgment, but self-reflective in nature. I have provided you with a link to a simple quiz on self-compassion:

http://self-compassion.org/test-how-self-compassionate-you-are/

This exercise was developed by Dr. Kristin Neff, a pioneer in the field of psychology and self-compassion. This will help provide insight into personal self-awareness and self-compassion.

I will continually remind you of this along the way, but please be kind to yourself on this new adventure in self care.


 

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Photos and artwork by Sean Kelley.

 

New Beginnings

The falling away of the old…the birth of the new…and everything in between…here is where we grow – all within the cycles of change. - Ali Hotmer

 
 
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This new beginning and this website is a culmination of my life experiences, my education in both western and eastern modalities, and the call of my spirit. This website is a resource and platform of all things self care, to inspire you to return to the adventure that is your life.

Welcome to Autumn & Fig.

 

Photos and artwork by Sean Kelley.