Day One: Mindful Eating
A busy mind creates a busy life. When the mind and life rush, like a hamster in a wheel, we tend to lose out on the simple joys of life. One such joy is the joy of eating. It’s possible to eat and not even know what and how much we have eaten when we are not mindful.
Since our challenge is about food and self-care, let’s start by becoming mindful of what and how we eat. Here are three simple tips to follow, today and for this week, and perhaps forever.
1) Make eating a conscious activity, almost like a ritual. Actually, in the ancient Yogic texts, eating is considered a ritual offering to the divine.
2) Make sure that you consume at least one meal without any distraction, being fully focused on the act of eating. Avoid conversation, watching TV, listening to music, or multi-tasking during the meal.
3) As you chew, become aware of the tastes, the flavours, the aromas, the texture, and allow your mind to play in these sensations.
Self Care Video of the Day: Prasad’s 15-Minute Self Healing Meditation
Doing this meditation is optional, but if you feel inclined to give it a try at any time throughout the day, find a comfortable position to sit in, take a deep breath, press play, close your eyes, and (try to) relax while listening.
Day Two: Slow Down
In a way, our exercise for Day 2 is an extension of Day 1. Our journey of mindfulness, which has started with ‘Conscious Eating’, now extends to other aspects of daily life. Many of us tend to rush through the day even when there is no urgency. This happens because a busy mind often perceives a situation as an emergency, even when that’s not the case.
To slow down a buzzing mind, we need to slow down the busy body. A buzzing, restless mind drains energy. This is what makes us feel exhausted throughout the day, even when we aren’t doing much. And this is where the practice of conscious slowing down comes in.
When we consciously slow down and do our tasks slowly and joyfully, we tend to infuse attention, care and ease into our actions. Today, we extend the exercise of consciously slowing down to talking slowly and walking slowly. Try to move at a slower pace than usual as you go through the day.
Walk when your mind tells you to run for no reason, do household chores at a slower pace, converse slowly and attentively, and be mindful of enjoying what you are doing instead of wanting to finish it in urgency.
The process of slowing down literally feels like dropping down the gears of activity and cruising through life. Consciously slowing down will also help bring our awareness inward and help get in touch with the non-reactive witness within – what the Yoga scriptures call ‘sakshi’.
Self Care Video of the Day: Prasad’s Heart Meditation
Here is a Guided Heart Meditation to go along with today’s prompt. May we all be in the ease of our heart as we navigate challenges of life.
Day Three: Breathing Breaks
Breath and mind are like two sides of the same coin. When the mind rushes, the breath becomes fast and shallow. When the breath slows down, the mind too calms down.
Due to this correlation, the ancient Yogis have used breath as a vehicle of calming down the mind. As we go through our busy lives, our awareness tends to become externalized. Often times this makes us forget ourselves.
The mind is always out there, somewhere. Breath can help us bring our awareness back within, to ourselves. Today, we will practice something I call ‘breathing breaks’.
Throughout the day, make sure to create small pockets of time when you can stop what you are doing, close your eyes and just breathe. It could be as small a ‘breathing break’ as ten deep breaths. Those ten deep breaths (inhale and exhale) have the capacity to relax the mind and bring awareness back to the self.
Breathing breaks are also a positive distraction, something that gives the mind a pause from its incessant train of thoughts. This is how conscious breathing can become a practical and accessible coping mechanism.
Don’t lose yourself in playing your roles and responsibilities. Breathe, and come back to the one who is breathing.
Self Care Video of the Day: Prasad’s Guided Breathing
Day Four: Long Exhalation Hack
Here’s a simple yet most important self-care tip of the week. Did you know that longer exhalation relaxes the body? Yes, it really does.
Here’s what you do. When you recognize stress piling up, slowly inhale through your nose and slowly exhale through your mouth, consciously making the exhalations longer. A 1:2 ratio is usually advised.
Without getting into its physiology, this hack has been scientifically proven to relax the mind and gradually shift the fight or flight mode to a relaxation response. The Yogis of ancient India have been using this method to regulate the mind for thousands of years.
If you are comfortable, you could also repeat an affirmation in your mind every time you gradually exhale. It could as simple an affirmation as “I am relaxing with this breath”. Another positive of this technique is that it also gives a sense of integrity and self-control which can help one get through a stressful day.
Self Care Video of the Day: The Two Most Important Breathing Exercises
Here’s a video with two breathing techniques that can help you manage a busy mind and a stressful day. Enjoy!
Day Five: Managing Self Talk
Since this is a Vegan & Self-Care Reset, it would help to reflect on the correlation between food and self-care. We all must have heard the phrase ‘you are what you eat’, but I like to extend it and add, ‘you become what you think’.
Food nurtures the body and thoughts nurture the mind. Even Yogic scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita, written thousands of years ago, emphasize this point.
The question to ask then is, what story do you tell yourself in your head? Do you know what kind of conversation you have with yourself in your mind?
Be very aware, because those stories manifest your reality. Every thought, repeated over and over again, creates a belief, and we all are acting out our own beliefs. Every belief, acted upon over and over again, creates a habit, and we all are living our habits.
Some habits are good, they help us grow towards happiness and contentment, but many limit our potential. Every individual has their own set of beliefs with which they create their own world. Sometimes I feel we may be living on the same planet, but we all are living in different worlds, the worlds that we create inside our own head.
So, be aware of what you think and where your thinking is taking you. When the self-talk becomes encouraging, assuring and nurturing, we become our own friend and walk through the thick and thin of life with confidence.
Today’s exercise is simple, yet it will surely be deeply revelatory. Catch yourself in self-talk throughout the day. Just be an observer of the tone of conversation you have with yourself. And, at the end of the day, find out if you are your own encouraging and reassuring friend, or not.
Self Care Video of the Day: Yoga Nidra
Here’s a link to a Yoga Nidra practice – a guided relaxation technique. Just lie down and follow the voice.
Day Six: Defining Boundaries
Many of us tend to take on too many things upon ourselves. This can make us physically exhausted and mentally drained. Most times, we don’t even know why we are so occupied.
One of the reasons could be a lack of boundaries. Defining boundaries in roles, responsibilities and relationships can help prevent energy leakage, and that energy can be deployed towards self-care.
In my own life, defining boundaries has been one of the key points of self-care. You see, as an individual, we only have a limited amount of energy. If that energy is used for things that are not a priority, it drains away.
It’s like we are mobile phones with so many apps open that our battery discharges fast, without us realizing it. One of the best ways to define boundaries is by finding clarity on what is important to us.
Today, we will reflect on just two questions:
1) What is important to me in my life?
2) Is my physical and mental energy aligned with it?
We all need space to rest, nurture and thrive, and this is true in both, physical space and mental space. When we have space, we can reflect on our life.
Self Care Video of the Day: Gentle Asana Class
To help you all create some space for yourself, here’s a gentle, relaxing Asana class.
Day Seven: Be your own Best Friend
Self-growth is impossible if one suffers from an uncomfortable relationship with the self. An inner discord, where one is opposed to one’s own self, is a perfect formula of self-destruction.
One of the key scriptures of Yoga, The Bhagavad Gita, says, if you help yourself grow, you are your own friend, if you subjugate yourself and deny yourself the glory and abundance of Self, then you are your own enemy.
It’s time to become our own friend first. Today, on the last day of our reset, let us promise to become our own friend by having an honest and loving relationship with ourself.
Remember, friendship is an attitude, a long-term commitment that deepens over time. So be patient with yourself and keep reaching out to the inner You.
Let’s all promise to make ourselves the priority. It is not selfish to do so. Each one of us is an important part of many lives and communities. When the part is well, the whole is well. When we are in a happy, peaceful and empathetic state of mind, we not only help nurture ourselves but also help nurture others.
Here are three simple tips to help you become your own best friend:
1) Every morning, when you wake up, remind yourself that you are worthy and important for the functioning of the world.
2) As you go through the day, deal with challenges with a mindset of a learner. Learn and grow.
3) Lastly, at the end of the day, before going to bed, take a few moments to take a few deep breaths, connect within, and feel grateful for the mind, body, breath and life that helped you learn and grow that day.
Self Care Video of the Day: Guided Meditation
Here is a gentle, guided relaxation that can help you unwind and ease at the end of the day.
Remember, Self-care is not just ‘feel-good’, it is a practice of being good and staying good. All the best, and Thank You for walking with us for the last seven days.
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