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Nearly everyone today has experienced anxiety, children even. Something about this fast-paced life, with technology and speed unimaginable only a few years ago has taken over our lives. We enjoy the benefits and convenience of this modern life. Yet our minds and bodies are overwhelmed by fatigue and anxiety.
You and I were created to be one with Nature. Not to be stuck in cubicles with soul-sucking jobs. Not to be slaves to our mortgages, debt and car loans. Nor were our children born to play unending games on their iPhones or other electronic gadgets. We are beings intimately connected to Nature.
Ayurveda has taught us that life is for bliss and growth. It is for the expansion of our happiness. Our happiness comes from balance, good health and a sense of connection to life itself. So how do we cultivate that? It’s easy and organic. The cost is minimal and the time you invest is an investment in your own healing. It does require that we have self-discipline. Once you practice some of the techniques listed below, you will feel so good that you will easily make time for these simple rituals.
1. Turn off the phone, the TV, the computer and spend time outdoors. Plant your bare feet in the grass, in the wet earth or on the sand. Plan for it in your schedule. Change it up by breathing the energy of the moon at night. That cooling energy of the moon is good for our over-taxed minds. Other times, seek out greenery. This soothes the inner heat and anger that may build up from the pressures of life. Walking by a water body is also healing to the body/mind.
2. Spend time in silence. My children and I often play the ‘silence game.’ It’s simple. We all choose to be silent together, sometimes while driving, other times while walking or at home. It reduces stress levels quickly. Being silent is one of the healthiest habits you can cultivate. You will then hear the voice of your intuition and inner wisdom.
3. Soaking your feet in a bowl of warm water is a good way to ground yourself. Do this before bed time. Take it to the next level by massaging your feet with warm oil before the soak. The energy from your head will move downward to your feet and give you a sense of calm.
4. At least 4 times a week, give yourself a warm oil self-massage. It takes about 10 minutes and relaxes the body and mind. Warm about 4 oz of oil (olive or sunflower) on the stove in a small pot. Stand on an old towel in the bathroom and apply a small amount of oil to your scalp. Massage gently. Next massage your face and neck with more oil. Use circular motions on your chest and abdomen. Taking more oil on your fingers and palms, massage your arms and back using long strokes. Follow the same technique for your buttocks, thighs and legs. Sit on the towel and massage your feet for about 4 minutes. Let the oil soak in for 10 – 20 minutes before you shower. Be aware that oil residue may accumulate on the towel. Hang to dry if possible or use the lowest dryer setting. Self-massage will soothe your mind and strengthen your body. Rest for a few minutes after your shower.
5. If oil massage is not a possibility, at least apply warm oil on your head and forehead. This alone will soothe the mind deeply. Warm 1 -2 oz of oil in a small pot. Using the palms of your hands, rub the oil your forehead and across your temples. Apply some oil to your scalp as well and massage gently. Place an old towel on your pillow and go to sleep. Wash your hair the next day.
6. Meditation is quite possibly the most important way to alleviate anxiety. Why? The practice of meditation takes you back to your higher self. It connects you to deep peace, stillness and silence. When the body and mind rest in this state, anxiety will vanish or reduce significantly. Meditate for at least 10 minutes twice a day. Once in the morning and again before dinner.
7. Deep breathing is another simple tool you can use for anxiety. Resting in child’s pose or savasana while breathing deeply is good for reducing anxiety. Practice this before you go to bed. It will also help you sleep better. Sleep is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself. Your anxiety will be greatly reduced with proper sleep.
These simple tools will help you develop life-long habits that connect you to your body/mind and to your higher self. Empower yourself with the knowledge that the mind and body are intimately linked. Trust that all of life’s experiences are a gift to you. And while you must endure strife and challenge, you can equip yourself with these simple skills and tools to lower anxiety. Ayurveda’s comprehensive system of healing is not about pills but about a path of higher consciousness for balance and bliss.