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How to Become a Morning Person

No amount of coffee can change me into a morning person.  Not even a grande drenched in mocha. However, our woman waking upsociety runs on a daylight schedule so I’ve learned a few tricks over the years to help me face the day with a reasonably good attitude. 

The best advice I have is to stop hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock.  Just set it for the right time and face the fact that sleep time is over.  The good news is, you don’t have to get out of bed right away.  I do my stretches right there.  Lengthen your legs, arms, breathe in and out deeply, and massage any achy parts.  This way the morning not only feels more luxurious, but you’ve increased the oxygen in both your body and your brain.  For me this translates into less stupidity and a higher level of functioning once I get out of bed.

The other tips help my mood:  don’t watch the news, check email, or answer the phone before you’re dressed and have had breakfast.  Having either sacred quiet time or a light conversation nurtures your sensitive side before jumping into the busyness of your day and the demands of others. 

Shoulder Rolls May Prevent Back Pain

We can prevent back pain if we look at how cultures with little to no back pain behave.  Americans tend toshoulder-roll-down scrunch their shoulders forward, so our arms are in front of our bodies. That’s not how people in indigenous cultures carry their arms. To fix that, gently pull your shoulders up, push them back and then let them drop. Now your arms should dangle by your side, with your thumbs pointing out. 

The Sound of Silence

silent miceA 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice. The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension,  silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.

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Practice Having an Open Heart

This election cycle has been one of the longest, most divisive one I can recall.  At times, I have resorted to talking garden-hose-bg-nozzlesback to the TV when I didn’t like what I heard a candidate say. Not my most enlightened moment.  I try to learn from these lower points in my life to see how I can improve personally and  also make the space around me more peaceful and healing for others.

One of the techniques I’ve found most helpful when I’m feeling aggravated is to just focus on my heart and imagine love pouring out of it like a sprinkler hose.  There is no target, no agenda, just love watering the hearts of anyone within range. Hopefully, it affects someone.  I know it calms me down and puts me in a better, more accepting mood.

Now that you’ve stopped laughing at my suggestion, just try it.  Next time you’re stuck in traffic, hassled at work, or wherever your stressful triggers are, just picture love pouring out of your heart. Do it long enough to notice if your heart rate has decreased, your breathing has slowed, or even better, that your mind has moved on to other, more pleasant thoughts.

Who Are Your Heroes?

The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.” — Socratesflags and gazebo

In the bustle and fun of this Memorial holiday, I suggest that you take a moment of reflection on the qualities of those you consider to be heroes.  How can you make one small change to embody just one of those principles in your daily routine?  Little shifts can cause big ripples down the line, creating a better future for you.  My current principles to model are more courage, kindness, and love.  It’s especially hard to do while I’m stuck in traffic, but there’s no exceptions.  Turning up the radio and singing helps me shift my mood in the car.  What are your strategies?

The Importance of Doing Nothing

Every day around the same time, Kathy Hollinger, a successful and remarkably productive executive, closes her meditation silhouetteoffice door for half an hour. Co-workers assumed she was trying to get work done until a friend looked through the sliver of glass in her door one day and saw that she appeared to be doing nothing more than staring off into space. It seemed curious enough that the friend began to pass by periodically when her door was closed to see what she was doing. Like clockwork, she closed her door once a day and appeared to engage in… nothing at all.

Eventually the friend asked Hollinger about the practice. She laughed and said one of the secrets to her incredible productivity was the time she took every day to just… be.

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Rejuvenate with Massage

Are you having trouble getting back into the swing of things with the new year?  Still have that holiday hangover and are dragging yourself around?  Or did the winter blahs kick in with the cold weather?HPIM1027

Massage can be surprisingly rejuvenating.  It’s kind of like when you’ve had one good night’s sleep after a long bout of insomnia.  Your body is reminded about that luxurious feeling of letting go.  Then, once you’ve relaxed, you have extra energy.  It comes from no longer having to clench tight muscles, grit your teeth, and hold your head upright.  

Sometimes you just need to take a little time for yourself before you can continue on.  The beginning of a new year is a wonderful time to pause and reflect, with a good massage supporting your ability to step back.  Then, when you move forward, it’s with fresh energy and more focus. 

Peace on Earth

This season is a time of wishing for peace on earth.  Often, it seems like an overwhelming goal for anyone to even begin!  When I’m feelingPenguins helpless about how I can affect change in the world in anyway, I remember a question asked of Mother Teresa.  The inquiry was how she managed to help all those children over many years.  In paraphrasing, her answer was that she simply focused on helping one child at a time.  Over the years, the number of people she helped grew very large, but each moment she worked just to help the one child in front of her.

I love that answer because we all tend to get ahead of ouselves.  It’s good to have big goals, but it’s also important to break it down into smaller, manageable tasks.  In order to bring peace on earth I believe if we all practice to do one thing each day to bring peace to ourselves or someone else, it will grow into a new way of thinking and acting that will seem automatic to generations that follow us.

“Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love.”  – Mother Teresa

Be Healthy Now

“If we are creating ourselves all the time, then it is never too late to begin creating the bodies we want instead of the ones we mistakenly assume we are stuck with.”  – Deepak Chopramassage_tip

Start creating the body you want by showing it a little love and gentleness.  Massage is an excellent way to get in touch with how your body is feeling, soothe your nerves, and tone many body systems beyond just muscles.  Your digestive and immune system benefit greatly from massage.  I bet both you and your loved ones could use the gift of massage. 


Stand Up to Decrease Back Pain

Have you heard about the new trend in standing desks?  There’s a strong reason for it – continuous sitting for long periods of time weakens back guy at deskmuscles which can lead to pain.  Back pain is a very common cause of visits to the doctor. It’s the fifth most common reason for hospitalisation and the third most common cause of surgery. Sitting also puts 40% more pressure on your spine than standing.  Considering how many hours we need to be at our desks, one thing we can change is how many hours we’re sitting down.

Maintaining correct posture is probably the last thing you’re thinking about when working on a deadline, but there are simple things you can do.  Changing the angle at which you sit can reduce compression of the discs in the spine, so lean back slightly every now and then, perhaps setting a chime on your phone for every half hour. Get up and walk around for a couple of minutes every hour.  You can even pair it with a trip to get water so you stay hydrated.

You don’t have to go so far as installing a stand-up desk, but incorporating standing, walking, and any other non-sitting poses into your day will help alot. Wiggling probably wasn’t fostered in your elementary school, but it’s certainly good for your back!