While it may seem strange to be talking about "awakening" in regards to improving sleep, we aren't using "awaken" in the literal sense here. Instead, we're talking about awakening your senses to the world around you, cultivating positive emotions, and engaging more intentionally and fully in your life. Frequent stress and depleting or negative emotions (such as frustration, anger, anxiety, or fear) drain energy from body, mind, and heart and interfere with sleep. Falling asleep in a positive emotional state and with a relaxed balance in your autonomic nervous system is ideal for promoting restful, restorative, and pleasant sleep. Regularly experiencing positive emotions such as joy, compassion, love, and appreciation can stop this energy drain and help you re-balance.
One of the most effective ways to achieve balance is through awareness and control of the patterns of our heart rhythms. The heart and brain...
You likely have a basic understanding of how diet and movement habits impact mental health. However, you may be less familiar with the concept of awakening, even though it is equally crucial to wellbeing. So what do we mean by "awakening?" In this article, we'll focus on helping you develop an enhanced awareness of how it feels to breathe calmly and fully and be fully present in your body.
Awakening practices can sharpen your senses, promote mindfulness, and help you listen to your inner voice. Essentially, "awakening" means coming alive--not just going through the motions of healthy habits, but truly being present in them. In other words, while the Nourish and Move foundational practices are about doing, the Awaken practices are about being.
The Resilient Breath and Body Awareness Practice is a valuable tool to help you feel more comfort in your body, settle down your mind, and awaken your being. Watch the...
The percentage of people in the US suffering from depression, anxiety, and poor focus/memory are historically high and increasing by more than 10% each decade. The rise is even faster among adolescents. If you are struggling with one of these common mental health problems, you are most definitely not alone!
Antidepressant medications still form the mainstay of treatment for depression and anxiety, while stimulants are the primary treatment for ADD. Consumers and professionals alike are realizing the limitations of conventional treatments and desperately looking for more natural, safe yet effective alternatives.
There is no unified theory explaining the epidemic of disorders, either in the...
As we enter the season of great festivities, I realize once more that this is the time of year when my therapy clients begin to talk about loneliness, isolation, and grief. My first Christmas disappointment was getting a generic “Lovely Linda” doll instead of a Tiny Tears. The heartache (for a child)! I can clearly remember the sinking in my stomach when I realized I wasn’t getting the real thing. For too many people, that sinking feeling lasts from October through New Year’s Eve.
The image of your perfect holiday may have to do with childhood memories of special foods, tree decorating rituals, and beautifully wrapped presents under that tree (and Tiny Tears in one of those packages!). Glossy holiday images also tempt us in sentimental movies, TV commercials, and a barrage of magazine recipes for this year’s version of the new best food for the holidays.
Despite the focus on food and presents, the perfect holiday...
You've likely been told that you HAVE to meditate. Perhaps even in a particular seated position, in a particular outfit, in a particularly-decorated room.
Have you tried that strict meditation technique only to discover that you're more stressed out when you finish than before you began it?
Don’t worry! That meditation technique is just one mind-body practice and there are many others to explore that can offer the same benefits. Finding a better fit is worth your time as many mind-body practices will work to enhance your ability to deal with symptoms related to depression, anxiety, or focus. This ability is often called “emotional regulation” or “self-regulation.” At Natural Mental Health, we also refer to this ability as resilience.
Additionally, as you find practices that fit you better, you'll be more likely to practice consistently and for longer durations at a time. This is key because the time you practice and the positive...
It's National Suicide Prevention Week (and month). Let's make space for ourselves and those around us who may be suffering. May we help each other stay.
"None of us can truly know what we mean to other people, and none of us can know what our future self will experience. History and philosophy ask us to remember these mysteries, to look around at friends, family, humanity, at the surprises life brings — the endless possibilities that living offers — and to persevere. There is love and insight to live for, bright moments to cherish, and even the possibility of happiness, and the chance of helping someone else through his or her own troubles. Know that people, through history and today, understand how much courage it takes to stay. Bear witness to the night side of being human and the bravery it entails, and wait for the sun. If we meditate on the record of human wisdom we may find there reason enough to persist and find...
When my boys were young, we would pack up the van and head south every year for spring break. Desperate for sun and warmth, we made a beeline as far south as needed to find them and then set up camp for a few days.
All of these trips were fun, but one stands out in my mind as being exceptional. After many hours on the road, we discovered a state campground in the Florida panhandle and were pleasantly surprised to find so few people staying there. It was inland and we figured most people headed to Florida had already chosen the beach. Our plan was to use the campground as a launching point and head out in different directions each day to explore the area—including the beach.
The morning after we arrived, we found ourselves lingering over breakfast, enjoying the peace of the nearly deserted campground. None of us, not even our active and typically restless boys, made any move to get ready to leave. The leisurely morning soon turned into afternoon,...
Our bodies have five senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing. But not to be overlooked are the senses of our souls: intuition, peace, foresight, trust, empathy.
The differences between people lie in their use of these senses; most people don't know anything about the inner senses while a few people rely on them just as they rely on their physical senses, and in fact probably even more.
-C. Joy Bell
In order to wake up your senses, it’s important to understand them a bit better. You probably learned about the five senses in health class: touch, smell, hearing, seeing, and taste. One appealing and straight-forward quality of the five-sense model is that each of the senses is paired with a specific, highly visible part of the body. You can point to your eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and skin. However, depending on how you define the human sense organs, functions, and abilities; there may be many more senses beyond just five. And you can access them!
What is it that sets very happy people apart from the not-so-happy? Is it a healthy diet? Exercise? An active spiritual life? Or simply being fortunate enough to have mostly good things happen throughout life?
A study of 222 undergraduates screened for high happiness levels found none of the above reasons. So, what was the happiness booster? The upper 10% of consistently happy people in the study had stronger social connections. While it may not be enough to create happiness by itself, a richly satisfying social life appears to be a necessary foundation to happiness.
Does that mean you need to be a social butterfly with a huge contact list? Nope, that quantity over quality adage applies here as well.
Jane Dutton, a professor of business administration and psychology at the University of Michigan, says that her personal practice of being alert to high-quality connections (HQCs) are like vitamins that strengthen her from within. I like this notion, in part,...
Last month's theme encouraged you to add more activity to your day with attention to more rhythmic and diverse movements. This month, you'll activate your system in ways that may seem more subtle, but are just as enlivening and nourishing.
The focus this month is to awaken your senses in ways that can help you feel more energized and connected.
Three strategies to focus on:
Why: Inhaling aromatherapy scents can stimulate or soothe your system and provide a way to come alive in new and different ways.
Specific action: Take just one minute daily to focus on smelling something that you enjoy. Give your full attention to the smell and notice how your system responds.
Not sure what to smell? Try sniffing an aromatherapy product (find some here), a flower, fruit, or another natural element.
Why: It's easy to get consumed by all the things happening around you. Those...
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