A sustainable lifestyle is more than just integrating slow fashion and zero waste practices into your routine. Just as our material resources need to be managed in a way that allows us the joy of slow living, our inner resources, such as our mental and emotional energy, need tending as well. A key aspect of slow living is to bring your intentions of sustainable living inward, by slowing your mind and body down.
Here are three ways you can help yourself regain emotional balance when the going gets rough.
First, let’s talk about the time honored practice that works so well with our modern, on-the-go lifestyles, the two finger breath trick, or sometimes called alternate nostril breathing.
- Using one hand, place a pinky finger on one side of your nose and a thumb finger on the other side of your nose. Gently push your fingers so that your nostrils are closed, kind of like you’re blocking an unpleasant smell.
- Now let the thumb finger go, breathe in through the open nostril, and press the thumb finger back down.
- Hold your breath for 3 seconds.
- Let the pinky finger go, and let your breath loose through that nostril.
And then start over. Do this slow breathing practice a few times. You’ll start to notice your heart rate slowing, and your mind letting go of your worries to focus on your physical movements.
Another quick de-stressor is to sit up tall, breathe in and out, and wiggle your toes. This combo of small body movements won’t disrupt your metro seat buddy, or startle your co-workers. It’s pretty discrete and it provides a quick mind and body reset. You can use a free app called Aloe Bud, which sends reminders for small actions like this, or you can set reminders directly on your devices.
Thich Nhat Hanh, a well known Vietnamese monk and peace activist known for his many writings on mindfulness also believes in quick, do-anywhere practices. He even published a pocket meditation book called How to Relax. In it, he says an easy way to slow your brain and catch your breath is simply to smile. “A smile can relax hundreds of muscles in your face, and relax your nervous system. A smile makes you master of yourself.” Now what could be easier than that!
You can do these simple practices anywhere or anytime you find yourself in need of a quick moment to re-center.
Quick and easy tricks are useful, but as sustainable living advocates we believe in building a practice that helps us maintain (or regain more quickly) a state of calm. That’s why we try to practice yoga as often as we can. Yoga allows us to move in intentional ways, and invites our minds to let go of our worries and focus on our bodies.
Yes, we'll be offering morning yoga sessions during our Slow Living Retreat in November, led by DMV area yogi Jackie Horstmann Didio! She’ll also be hosting a workshop entitled “Living Life Through a Yogic Lens,” during which attendees will learn how to integrate yogic practices into their daily lives.
Comment below with your go-to mindfulness practices, and when you use them!