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Meditations in Life – Three Breath Relaxation

I recently heard about a professional woman who finds her Third Space between tasks with a quick Three Breath Relaxation. The advantage of this third space is that it provides space between stuff and relaxes the whole body, simultaneously.

We have already learned the benefits of the Third Space in my previous blog but why would we also want to relax?

Relaxation turns the autonomic nervous system from fight, flight or freeze to rest, relax and restore – sympathetic to parasympathetic. Physiologically, the stress chemical cascade is halted and the system is flooded with relaxation hormones. The physical result is relaxation throughout the musculoskeletal-skeletal system and our mind clears, enabling reasoning and logic.

In short, our sympathetic nervous system is excellent and necessary for reacting to danger but not so good for decision-making and responding. Whereas our parasympathetic nervous system keeps us relaxed and clearheaded, and when we turn it on we have the capacity to respond to life rather than being caught in the endless cycle of reaction.

So here it is.

Three Breath Relaxation

  1. Sit, stand or lie (shut the office door and lie on the carpet – I know of a woman who keeps a cushion in her desk drawer just for this purpose), comfortably. Ensure you are warm and supported, as best you can.
  2. Either shut your eyes or lower your eyes to the floor; soften your gaze.
  3. Breathe in and bring your attention to head, face and neck, breathe out and relax your head, face and neck.
  4. Breathe in and bring your attention to your torso, shoulders and arms, breathe out and allow your torso, shoulders and arms to relax.
  5. Breathe in and bring your attention to your hips, legs and feet, breathe out and allow your hips, legs and feet to relax.
  6. Job done. Take a few moments to rest in the stillness you have created, before returning to your life.
  7. If you are particularly stressed or stimulated you might like to try a few breaths at each place.
  8. You might also like to try adding a final breath to relax the whole body.

Experiment with this practice and make it your own, every body is different and your situation changes from day to day, moment to moment so see what works for you in the moment without being rigid.

I hope you enjoy your newly relaxed state and I look forward to hearing about your experiences with this easy third space.

With relaxation,

Lynnette.

PS: when you want to stop reacting and start responding, take a moment and do the Three Breath Relaxation.

 

Lynnette Dickinson is the author of A Journey to Peace through Yoga, and teaches yoga, relaxation and meditation in Canberra and via Skype or phone. Classes, personalised programs and yoga therapy. Visit www.splendouryoga.com. Listen to Lynnette telling her story click on www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8pNE2Qpul0 for Part 1 and www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SatGo9hV6I for Part 2, and be inspired.

 

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Meditations in Life – Three Breath Relaxation

I recently heard about a professional woman who finds her Third Space between tasks with a quick Three Breath Relaxation. The advantage of this third space is that it provides space between stuff and relaxes the whole body, simultaneously.

We have already learned the benefits of the Third Space in my previous blog but why would we also want to relax?

Relaxation turns the autonomic nervous system from fight, flight or freeze to rest, relax and restore – sympathetic to parasympathetic. Physiologically, the stress chemical cascade is halted and the system is flooded with relaxation hormones. The physical result is relaxation throughout the musculoskeletal-skeletal system and our mind clears, enabling reasoning and logic.

In short, our sympathetic nervous system is excellent and necessary for reacting to danger but not so good for decision-making and responding. Whereas our parasympathetic nervous system keeps us relaxed and clearheaded, and when we turn it on we have the capacity to respond to life rather than being caught in the endless cycle of reaction.

So here it is.

Three Breath Relaxation

  1. Sit, stand or lie (shut the office door and lie on the carpet – I know of a woman who keeps a cushion in her desk drawer just for this purpose), comfortably. Ensure you are warm and supported, as best you can.
  2. Either shut your eyes or lower your eyes to the floor; soften your gaze.
  3. Breathe in and bring your attention to head, face and neck, breathe out and relax your head, face and neck.
  4. Breathe in and bring your attention to your torso, shoulders and arms, breathe out and allow your torso, shoulders and arms to relax.
  5. Breathe in and bring your attention to your hips, legs and feet, breathe out and allow your hips, legs and feet to relax.
  6. Job done. Take a few moments to rest in the stillness you have created, before returning to your life.
  7. If you are particularly stressed or stimulated you might like to try a few breaths at each place.
  8. You might also like to try adding a final breath to relax the whole body.

Experiment with this practice and make it your own, every body is different and your situation changes from day to day, moment to moment so see what works for you in the moment without being rigid.

I hope you enjoy your newly relaxed state and I look forward to hearing about your experiences with this easy third space.

With relaxation,

Lynnette.

PS: when you want to stop reacting and start responding, take a moment and do the Three Breath Relaxation.

 

Lynnette Dickinson is the author of A Journey to Peace through Yoga, and teaches yoga, relaxation and meditation in Canberra and via Skype or phone. Classes, personalised programs and yoga therapy. Visit www.splendouryoga.com. Listen to Lynnette telling her story click on www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8pNE2Qpul0 for Part 1 and www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SatGo9hV6I for Part 2, and be inspired.

 

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Meditations in Life – the Third Space

At a recent leadership course I attended (GLAM – fully recommend), the facilitator, Avril Henry, referred to the concept of the importance of creating a ‘Third Space’ as a tool to enhance life work harmony in the lives of busy people.

So, what is a ‘Third Space’ and why would you bother? 

Well, the concept of The Third Space can out of research carried out by Dr Adam Fraser in partnership with Deakin University. The research concludes that the way we transition from one role or task to the next can determine our performance, balance and overall happiness; and that carrying over emotional baggage from one situation to the next can have disastrous effects on relationships and outcomes.

The Third Space is that moment of transition and if we create that space intentionally we can avoid taking our crappy experiences into the following situation, our role at work into our role as parent, partner or friend and complete as much as we can as we go.

In essence, if we imagine the different tasks or role that we engage in during our day as coats we put on, The Third Space is consciously taking a moment to take off one coat before putting on the next. This means we are always only wearing one coat.

I have come across this concept before in regard to finishing projects – take a break, reflect, evaluate and let go before taking up the next project but not in relation to everyday life. It is a very useful tool to stay present to the task or situation at hand.

When the the Third Space was introduced at GLAM, all of the participants found it easy to identify activities to create the space between work and home and some were already employing some very effective strategies to avoid bringing work into their home lives. Where it became more difficult was to find this space within their work day – between meetings, transitioning between tasks, calls and conversations.   

So how do you find The Third Space in midst of a busy and demanding work life or disengage from work before your entering your home life?

Here are a few ideas.

5 ways to create The Third space between work and home

  1. Do some physical activity on the way home from work, with the intention of letting go of work ‘stuff’ eg go or a walk or run, go to the gym or play some sport.
  2. Take an uninterrupted shower before engaging its family members (emphasis on uninterrupted – this will need an agreement with family members, “only if there's blood or threat to human life”).
  3. Stop at a café for a beverage on the way home to let go of your day – perhaps take a few moments to journal reflections on your day eg what went well, what didn’t, what you can do better, how.
  4. Do some yoga and/or meditation.
  5. Let go of each incident in your day with your breath – breathe in and remember the incident, breathe out and let it go.

5 ways to create The Third Space through your day

  1. After a difficult meeting sit quietly and become aware of your breath, breathe in and remember an aspect of the meeting, breathe out and release the emotion. Continue until the emotion has been released, then record the actions and reflections of the meeting.
  2. In between tasks, consciously stop and close off a task in your mind before beginning another and make an agreement with yourself to make sure this is complete before moving on.
  3. Break up your work time in to thirty minute ‘sessions’ and work solidly on a single project for the whole thirty minutes then stop, record any unfinished bits or bits that need to be attended, then get up and stretch.
  4. Only receive phone calls between tasks and record any details from the call immediately so you are not interrupting your focus or carrying your whole work life with you in your head.
  5. Breathe – breathe in, pause, breathe out pause, rinse and repeat focussing on allowing the out breath to get longer, until you are ready to climb the next mountain.

Remember toilets are great Third Spaces if you have difficulty getting space at work or home – generally people don't interrupt you in the toilet and there is usually a lock (and if there isn't, get one).

I hope you enjoy finding your Third Spaces and you want to share your experiences or Third Spaces I haven't mentioned, please comment below or send me an email.

Thank you,
Lynnette.

 Remember: when you are transitioning between roles and tasks, sit in The Third Space until you have changed your coat.

If you want to know more about The Third Space with Dr Adam Fraser, go to www.thethirdspace.com.au.

If you would know more about Avril Henry and GLAM, go to www.avrilhenry.com.

Lynnette Dickinson is the author of A Journey to Peace through Yoga, and teaches yoga, relaxation and meditation in Canberra and via Skype or phone. Classes, personalised programs and yoga therapy. Visit www.splendouryoga.com. Listen to Lynnette telling her story click on www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8pNE2Qpul0 for Part 1 and www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SatGo9hV6I for Part 2, and be inspired.

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Meditations in life – Hand Massage Meditation

Last year I taught an eight week Relax & Restore course for staff in the community Services industry in Canberra. Six people working long hours in very demanding positions, with equally demanding home lives to maintain.My plans were to deliver a course with nurturing tools, restorative yoga postures and deep relaxation. I wrote a manual with each week’s practices photographed and described, a guide to developing a home practice and a Splendour Relaxation CD.

 

I was idealistic that my new students would go home after the first night and start practicing their newfound self-management tools. So when the students returned for week 2, I was looking forward to hearing how they had fared with their new practices.

You can imagine my surprise when the most common practice (in some cases the only practice), that the students were practicing on a daily practice was self massage of their hands, most frequently following my suggestion that they practice in the car at traffic lights!

 They reported that hand massage bought them back into the present, which stopped the endless chatter of their monkey mind. The result was an oasis of calm in the midst of the busyness and anxiety of their lives. One participant said “it was like pressing the ‘Reset’ button on her mind”.

The added bonus was that the act of massaging their own hands made them feel nurtured. A very real benefit in careers and home lives that involved nurturing others, with little time and energy left to nurture themselves.

 So, here is the Hand Massage Meditation.

 Hand Massage Meditation

  • Sit quietly and take a three long, slow breaths.
  • Rest your dominant hand in the palm of your other hand, palm facing up.
  • Begin massaging along the base of your hand (at the border between the hand and the wrist), small circles with the thumb of the other hand.
  • Then move into pad, continuing the gentle circles up to the base of your thumb.
  • Move into the centre of the palm of your hand for a few moments.
  • The, beginning from the heel of your hand, massage along the outside edge of your hand.
  • Then across the pads along the base of your fingers toward your ‘pointer’ finger and back along the pads toward your ‘pinky’.
  • Gently stroke along each finger and thumb, applying gentle pressure at the top of each finger and in the space between each finger.
  • Turn the hand over and find the space just above where the thumb bone and the pointer bone join into the wrist. Apply gentle pressure for a few seconds then stroke up toward the digits.
  • Repeat for each finger then gentle stroke across the top of the joints at the base of the fingers.
  • If you have extra time you can gently massage each joint.
  • Then repeat with the other hand.
  • Take a moment to notice and appreciate the calm in your mind.

 Now, if you are doing this at traffic lights you probably won't be able to do both hands in one sitting (unless of course you are in busy traffic, in which case you really need something to keep the road anxiety at bay), which is why we begin with the dominant hand or the hand that does the most work. In fact, you may not even finish a whole hand – it doesn’t matter!

 The aim is to provide a focus for your mind that is not the constant to and fro between the past and the future, while giving yourself a bit of nurturing. Even just a few moments can reset your brain. And you can always pick up where you left off, at the next traffic light or the next few minutes of space (I know a particularly busy woman who goes in to the toilet at her office and massages her hands).

 And the best thing is there is no limit to the number of times you can engage with self massage and your hands are always with you.

 I love hearing about people’s experiences with these practices so please comment below or email me at lynnette@splendouryoga.com.

 Thank you,
Lynnette

 Remember: if you need to press the ‘Reset’ button on your busy brain, take a few moments and massage your own hands.

Lynnette Dickinson is the author of A Journey to Peace through Yoga, and teaches yoga, relaxation and meditation in Canberra and via Skype or phone. Classes, personalised programs and yoga therapy. Visit www.splendouryoga.com. Listen to Lynnette telling her story click on www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8pNE2Qpul0 for Part 1 and www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SatGo9hV6I for Part 2, and be inspired.

 

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Meditations in Life - Red Traffic Light Meditation

Over the last month I have been attending a leadership workshop with some amazing women, mostly from Defence. These women are dynamic and successful, and their response to me as a yoga and meditation teacher is, “I can't possibly sit still for that long” or “I can’t keep my mind quiet” or “I tried a yoga class once and couldn't wait to leave”.

Well, I tried a yoga class once and couldn't wait to leave and I used to be Queen Fidget and I used to have such a busy mind that I thought I couldn’t meditate. I wasn’t born knowing how to be calm, in fact quite the opposite, I used to be quite mad! But I learned and I practiced because I had experiences that showed me the power of meditation in managing stress, pain and chronic madness.

So how did I go from Queen Fidget to meditation teacher? Was it in one big step – zero meditation to sitting in Lotus with an empty mind for an hour or stiffness to human pretzel, sceptic to sunflowers growing out of my head? No, it was in tiny steps, finding moments in my day when I was already not moving or using my newfound capacity for a few minutes of stillness to manage very stressful situations.

In my book, A Journey to Peace through Yoga, I write about this burgeoning meditation practice in the context of my first MS exacerbation in hospital in Britain. I was in hospital thinking I was dying. I had no stamina, no experience, a shirt load of fear, pain and dysfunction but when I could close my eyes, soften my breath and be still, my experience of my situation completely changed.

This skill became life changing when I began my yoga teacher training in an electric wheelchair. I would take any opportunity to relax my body and mind – traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, bank queues and the dreaded doctor’s waiting room.

And the consequence was that I started managing my condition rather than my condition managing me. The stress of my situation was immediately reduced, my relationships improved and my road to recovery began.

So I would like to offer you a series of Meditations in Life, to encourage other Queen Fidgets to find some stillness in their life. The first the Red Traffic Light meditation.

Red Light Meditation

So, in the middle of a busy day you are stuck at a red light. Maybe you are running late or maybe you just want to get where you're going…NOW! What do you do?

  • Look at the offending set of traffic lights, specifically the red one.
  • Let your vision soften – an easy way of doing this is remembering something or someone you love, you will find you automatically smile and your vision softens.
  • Let your breathing slow down and your shoulders relax each time you breathe out – even a few breaths can make a difference.
  • I have even recently started to turn my engine off and noticed that the few moments of relative silence is relaxing.
  • Then when the light turns green, turn the engine on, sharpen your focus and re-enter your day with a clearer and calmer mind.

It's amazing but just these few minutes can make a huge difference to managing the stress of a busy day. And if you string them together with other lots of ‘few minutes’, you will soon notice your stress melting away and your experience of life changing.

I would love to hear about your experience of the Red Traffic Light Meditation, so please reply or send me an email.  

Yours in stillness,
Lynnette.

 PS: If you find yourself feeling stressed at a traffic light, turn off your engine, soften your gaze and breathe.

 Next meditation – The Hand Massage Meditation.

Lynnette Dickinson is the author of A Journey to Peace through Yoga, and teaches yoga, relaxation and meditation in Canberra and via Skype or phone. Classes, personalised programs and yoga therapy. Visit www.splendouryoga.com. Listen to Lynnette telling her story click on www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8pNE2Qpul0 for Part 1 and www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SatGo9hV6I for Part 2, and be inspired.

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