As part of our Members Series, we have invited some of our community members to guest blog focusing on their area of expertise. We have such a vast array of members here at Iconic and they all specialise in different areas. For this guest post we have Tara O’Rourke from Saol Beo sharing her knowledge on how to slow down in our daily lives and in return become more productive and increase our energy levels. Tara is the founder of Saol Beo Holistic Therapies and Training, where she is a practicing Holistic Therapist, Yoga Teacher and Homeopath.
Our perception that we have ‘no time’ is one of the distinctive marks of modern Western culture.”
I felt anxious daily like there was this urgency to get things done and if I did have any spare time I had to fill that gap, packing something else in. Life was full of revolving doors and I felt a sense of purpose getting so many things done in a day, I was always putting pressure on myself, balancing and multi-tasking. I can’t even say how I was breathing because I was so disconnected from my breath and body. I was most likely holding my breath in a defensive way, a lot of the time for fear of just letting go. I wanted to portray a sense of control and I liked that feeling; appearing strong, confident and reliable.
There was a sequence of events over three years where I was slowly copping on, I had been experiencing physical symptoms; feeling lethargic, losing motivation with decreased energy and drive. I was living a life ‘on the surface’, there was no real depth or substance in being mad busy, and the ‘always on the go’ person, I wanted to change as I knew it wasn’t good for my head and physical symptoms were manifesting. I was thinking about the bigger picture. I wasn’t financially well off but I had enough, and money was never a big driver for me, it was more job satisfaction and a sense of achievement that really motivated me and as a result the money came. I found a local yoga class and really liked the physical benefits at first, the more I went however I noticed a ‘subtle’ body difference; more of a connection with breath and body and over time experiencing a deep sense of renewal. During this time I made the decision to work for myself, and if I could live on what I earned and maybe a little more, that would be enough for now.
Since then, I haven’t looked back. I do work hard but it’s from a different place because now I have balance in my day. I am now moving at ‘human pace’ rather than a ‘machine’s pace’. I allow for regular short breaks, stay well hydrated and never eat lunch at my desk. Sometimes I will diary a twenty minute power nap and take it if I need to; I set my clock, listen to the sounds around or maybe tune into a free online mindful app. I am now more productive in my work, with more focus and getting real results.
Ask yourself, ‘am I being pulled along or am I in the driver’s seat?’ Also, what is the worst that can happen if you take 30 minutes to 1 hour out from a 16 hour waking day just to breathe and connect. If the idea of that freaks you out completely, you could start with attending a guided Yoga or Meditation class. Yes, there is going to be excuses, resistance and even total abhorrence at the idea initially, also the waste of time you think this would be and where you could best spend that time. I can tell you, I’ve experienced it all, the excuses, and the total aversion to sitting still. I also thought I had to go to India to find this state of peace in a mindful way as it couldn’t be in my own space and in my own head. But it is in us.
The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
– W.B. Yeats
Yoga practice is so much more than moving and stretching, the main purpose of this Asana practice is to connect body and mind whilst building heat and cleansing the system in preparation for conscious breathing, ‘pranayama’. A practice is something you give time to every day, if this is new to you, I would recommend setting aside 30 minutes to start with in the morning. Start with simple Yoga awakening stretches and then conscious breath awareness, keep it simple with expectations to begin with. The benefits of a mindful meditation practice include:
· More Focus, less heat in the head
· Improved concentration and mental clarity
· Better digestion
· Stress reduction (studies show decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol)
· Healthy communication
· Body awareness, self-awareness, regulation of emotion and regulation of attention
All in all, life hasn’t changed, but how you deal with it can and will with daily practice.
I would love to support and offer some practical tips that have worked for me and there is also plenty of classes/workshops in Dublin you can attend.
Three Steps to Help You Get Started on Slowing Down
Step 2: 10 minutes ‘Find your breath’
Sitting cross legged (hips higher than knees, use cushions to prop you up, have a blanket around your back, finding a comfortable seated position). You’re now ready to start the process of breath awareness with ‘Alternate Nostril Breathing’.
Alternate Nostril Breathing, otherwise known as Nadi Shodhana, is a really effective way to calm the nerves or reduce any anxiety. This is a quick and calming way to return you to your centre, with Nadi Shodhana you are taking deep concentrated breaths through alternating nostrils, moving through cycles. Ideally you would perform up to 10 cycles when you’re in need of a reset button, each cycle only taking approx 30-40 seconds.
Chopra details exactly how to perform this exercise here.
Step 3: 8-10 Minutes: ‘Mindful Now’
Sitting, allowing breath to return to its natural rhythm. Becoming aware of your toes, feet, shins, knees, thighs, hips, torso, chest, heart centre, neck, face, forehead, crown of head, nape of neck, shoulders, backs of shoulders, upper arms, elbows, lower arms, hands, fingertips. Taking a mental walk through your body, acknowledging how you sit with it all. Allowing and accepting this as your practice today, to finish place palms of hands together at your heart centre, a bow forward in thanks for your own practice, ‘Namaste’…