Experiencing Daily Joy

About a month ago something triggered my need for renewed self-care. That something was awareness. It was an awareness, an opening of my heart, knowing I can do better and feel better for a more healthful, relaxing and joyful life. But how?

I’ve never practiced yoga or meditation on a regular basis even though I have had a clear understanding of their benefits, both physically and emotionally for a very long while. I’m no expert. Which is exactly why I now believe this is a perfect time to share my new journey into this self-care adventure.

You know what yoga and meditation are for me? Breath work. Breathing. How simple is that? Noticing and being aware of my breath allows me to find my joy for a period of time each day. Both yoga and meditation require a focus on the breath. Now, if you have been practicing for years this seems obvious. But for the rest of us, the simplicity of this truth is profound.

We’re all breathing all the time, right? Thankfully we breathe without being reminded. But did you know that sitting quietly, noticing our breath, focusing on those breaths allows our heart and brain to communicate clearer?

Yesterday my yoga teacher shared that our hearts and our brains work together to create emotions. Noticing and focusing on our breath in a slow, peaceful setting can slow down our heart rate and can improve our mood and our health.

This is science. David Paterson, Ph.D. a professor at Oxford University, explains, “When your heart receives signals from the brain via the sympathetic nerves, it pumps faster. And when it receives signals through the parasympathetic nerves, it slows down.” 

Sympathetic nerves – as in fight or flight emotions, anxiety, fear, anger, or even telling a lie can make our heart pump faster. Being in this state often may contribute to heart disease and other physical illness.

Parasympathetic nerves – conserves energy as it slows the heart rate. Being in this state improves digestion and relaxes internal organs and gastrointestinal tract.

We’re all breathing all the time, but are we living in a constant sympathetic nerve state, anxious and angry and fearful?

I started practicing meditation for ten minutes a day. Just ten minutes of sitting still noticing my breath. Does my mind wander? You bet. It should. That’s normal. I have great news for you! A wandering mind is a gift. Noticing those thoughts while sitting quietly is the beginning of successful meditation.

We do have the ability to improve our over all health and find daily joy simply with  our breath. But it takes practice.  And while it is simple, it is not easy to slow down, stop all physical activity and sit quietly focusing on our breath. But it is doable. And the benefits are huge.

For me there is no turning back. Tune in for tomorrow’s post where I will share how technology is helping me. Yep, there’s an app for that.

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