Transitions are a splendid time to slow down, and September is prime transition time. Summer is on its last legs, school is ramping up, and everyone is trying to figure out how to change gears and move in a new direction. Like the eddies from contradicting currents where two rivers converge, a lack of predictable pattern ensues. Chaos reigns.
Transitions, known as sandhi or “joints” in Sanskrit, elevate vāta dosha. So slowing down is direct medicine to help restore neutral in our nervous system.
It’s particularly useful during transitions to anticipate the squeeze and proactively plan a pause. The prevailing sense of urgency during many transitions often makes it seem we don’t have the time to take a break. Of course, that’s when it’s most helpful.
There’s great wisdom in the saying, “I don’t have enough time to hurry.“
Indeed when we find ourselves feeling frenetic with a long to-do list, we often find greater productivity by taking an intentional break to freshen our focus or replenish our body. Even more importantly, we may find greater satisfaction, or even a ray of joy that slips in and lights up the room.
Here are 5 rejuvenating pauses that will pay you back in energy, even (or especially) when you feel like you can’t take the time.
1) Commune with an animal. Snuggle with your dog, feed your fish, or watch a squirrel following its native instincts. Get at eye-level with your animal companion, if you can. Really consider their view for a few minutes. Start a conversation and see what they have to communicate to you.
2) Step outside, or walk around the building. A momentary brush with nature will revive your sense of perspective. The fresh oxygen and increased circulation of cerebrospinal fluid will support your brain. The change of depth of focus will nourish and relax your eye muscles. Your joints will be lubricated by moving through their range of motion.
3) Do 2-3 rounds of abdominal crunches. (Best to avoid this one if you have osteoporosis.) This will stimulate and awaken your agni or digestive capacity, which amplifies your mental digestion as well. Lie down on the floor with knees bent and the soles of your feet on the ground. With your hands behind your head, lift your head and shoulder blades off the floor by reaching your chin straight up towards the ceiling. Each round can be 12 repetitions, or less if that feels like too much.
4) Make a cup of loose-leaf tea. Walk to the kitchen or break room, heat up the water, scoop out a teaspoon of tea leaves and put it in a strainer, and appreciate the smell as you pour boiling water over it. Watch the color of the fluid change.
5) Stand up and read a short poem out loud. Let it be 15 lines or less. Then read it out loud again. Listen.
Here’s one you could start with….
~ Mary Oliver
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.