Buzz Away a Buzzy Mind

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You didn't know bumblebees could be an inspiration for relaxation, did you!?

Stress and anxiety can change our breath, shortening it and getting us into upper chest breathing, both of which activate the sympathetic side of our autonomic nervous system...keeping our physiology in a stressful state of fight/flight/freeze which in turn keeps perpetuating the stressful or anxious state in our brains and bodies.

So...bring in the bumblebee!

It's a simple breath technique that works MAGIC!

Inhale naturally and on your exhale hum the 'mmmmm' sound with your lips closed. Repeat and repeat and repeat. Inhale, exhale 'mmmmm.' Keep your breath steady, inhaling and exhaling naturally. Very gradually, begin to lengthen the exhale and amount of time you hum - but keep the breath natural and smooth. You can press your tongue lightly against the roof of your mouth or, if it feels better, against the back of your teeth.

Here's are a few reasons why it works:

1. The humming on the exhale naturally lengthens your exhale which activates the parasympathetic (rest & digest) side of your nervous system, effectively turning on calm as the relaxation response begins to soothe your brain and body.

2. The vibration of the sound 'mmm' stimulates the vagus nerve, which also activates the parasympathetic system (double dose or relaxation!!). Among other things, stimulating the fibers of the vagus nerve enlivens your internal organs and decreases your heart rate (that again!!), sending the message to your brain that it's ok to be calm and rest, which in turn shifts your physiology and therefore also your mental and emotional state.

So next time you feel stressed of anxious, harness inspiration from the mighty bumblebee and buzz your way to a calmer mind and body!

stress & anxiety

Meditation is Scary

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It's so true that people think meditation is scary! I hear it so often! But it's because meditation is not what you think it is.

Yes, meditating can be sitting in a room by yourself, cross-legged, eyes closed, for hours on end.

But meditation is also so much more than that!

And there are ways to make it accessible for yourself as a beginner.

To start, use your breath. It's always there and provides a nice anchor point for beginning to train your mind to pay attention, which is the first stage of meditation.

And yes, you literally have to 'train your mind' at the beginning.

A few ways to start meditating for newbies:

1. Do square breathing. Inhale to a count of 1, 2, 3, 4, hold for 1, 2, 3, 4, exhale 1, 2, 3, 4, hold 1, 2, 3, 4. Or use a count that works for you but keep the breath even. Two minutes, go!

2. Sit or lie down - again, anywhere. The location and position do not matter. Place your palms on your belly. Feel your breath move in and out through the palms. Every time you notice your mind wander, gently bring your attention back to the sensation in your palms. Two minutes. You can do it.

3. Count your breaths (quietly in your mind). Starting at 11, count backwards. Inhale, 11, exhale, 11; inhale 10, exhale 10 and so on. If your mind wanders (as it is built to do), don't fuss, don't judge...simply start your count again at 11. Two minutes, gently focus on the count.

4. Extend your exhale twice the length of your inhale. Inhale 1, 2, 3, exhale, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Repeat for two minutes. You've got this.

5. Use an app. NO, this is not shameful. NO, this is not cheating on meditating. Literally millions of people use meditation apps every single day because they work.  They provide structure, guidance, and support and we can all use more of those things!  Headspace, Calm and Insight Timer are a few of the more popular apps.

Don't get caught up in the how, just do it.

You CANNOT DO IT WRONG.

Just start!

Get to know your mind. Extend the time as you get comfortable and less freaked out by your crafty little mind!

Start small and remember this handy little phrase to keep your practice going: a little and often!

start small