It was through a period of dramatic personal transformation that I deeply learnt the foundations of transformation and the tools that make this a more comfortable and manageable process. Welcome to part four in this four-part series, where I am sharing the four fundamental areas that empower change along with some low or zero cost tools that support each of them: personal mindset, what we consume, active use of mind & body, and intentional rest of mind & body.
No. 4: Intentional Rest of Body & Mind
Resting the body and mind is of equal if not greater importance as any activity. This is because it is in rest where the vital work of building and repairing muscle and tissues takes place, it is when learning is embedded in our mind so that we can effectively re-use it. Without rest, all benefits of our activity may be lost.
Yoga, Meditation & Breathwork: Yoga in the west is often used as exercise yet in its traditional form it offers many tools for relaxation – the postures or asanas, meditation, and breathing all aid relaxation of body and mind. Restorative, Gentle Hatha, Yoga Nidra, and Yin are all forms of Yoga suited to relaxation. If I could offer one tip for relaxation it would be to extend your exhale. Focus on your breath and make the exhale a little longer than the inhale, this signals to your nervous system that it is okay to relax and this can be done anywhere at zero cost. Turn this into a simple meditation by counting the breath – count each breath from one up to ten, when you reach ten, come back to one and repeat, do so as many times as you wish. If you lose your place simply come back to one and start again. A common misconception is that meditation is about having no thoughts. That is not true. You practice meditation to help you take control of your mind, so you can prevent yourself from being pulled into long chains of stress-inducing thoughts when what you need is to relax.
Sleep: It is in sleep where our body is known to restore and heal itself and it is where we process the many 1000’s of pieces of information we have been exposed to during the day. I highly recommend ‘Why we sleep’ by Matthew Walker for additional and eye-opening information around sleep. The vast majority of us should consistently be seeking 7-9 hours a night to give our brain and body time to replenish and wake us up refreshed. Setting a solid sleep ritual or routine will aid good sleep. A key trick is going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. You can create a pre-sleep routine to act as a trigger for the mind that sleep is coming and to prepare for it; this could be taking a warm shower before bed, avoiding technology after 8 pm or having a specific non-caffeinated drink before bed – I encourage you to take time to create and enjoy what works for you.
You time: Whether it’s running a warm bath, with a glass of something and reading a book, having a call with a trusted friend, sitting in a quiet corner with a cup of tea, listening to acoustic music or sitting in a meadow, get in touch with what lifts the weight off your shoulders, what makes you release a sigh and feel any tension slip away. Even it’s only 10 minutes a day, try and find time for yourself.
We live in a world where action is praised and inactivity is frowned upon, yet health and performance are derived from a balance of the two. ‘Me time’ has become a bit cliché but it truly is important to make time for yourself. You will find that your determination, endurance, resilience, and creativity will all lift if you are well-rested. When rested you increase emotional intelligence and balance which benefits interpersonal relationships, which will serve you positively in work and your personal life, creating a stronger network of people willing to support you in your transformation.