A couple days ago, I found myself crumbled in a ball on the shower floor after dropping a shampoo bottle on my foot. I sat there not knowing what was streaming down my face, tears or water. Until I tasted salt. Wondering why a shampoo bottle was causing me to cry, I realized it was just the tip of the iceberg. I was completely depleted. From running a fast marathon towards an unknown finish line. I needed to give myself permission to slow down and walk. Actually, to come to a complete stop. Full stop. When we are depleted, often times something so seemingly trivial as a shampoo bottle can push us right over the edge, or onto the shower floor, and spark a waterfall of tears. Tears, the language our hearts speak when our lips are at a loss for words. Like raindrops from the storm inside. In this case, my storm was stress.
Stress. (One of my least favorite words.) Demands ALL of our energy.
With the immense changes occurring during this pandemic, it may be challenging for many of us to find calm within. Our minds and hearts may be racing and we may feel some degree of stress, anxiety, fear, even grief on a macro and micro level. Even if we’re not fully aware of it. Even if it’s in our subconscious mind. We are in a period of deep and uncertain transition that is impacting us all at varying levels.
Stress. Our body’s reaction and adaptation to change.
Stress may create a heavy toll on our physical, mental, and emotional health. It can cause an inability to think clearly and focus, depression or anxiety, and even disease in the physical body. Change can be as simple as a shift in the time we awake and as complex and devastating as losing a job or a loved one. Since change can happen every instant, our stress response can occur every instant, affecting our glandular and central nervous system as well as our immune response. Stress is natural and necessary. It is not unhealthy. What is unhealthy is continually staying in a state of stress. So, how do we adapt and respond? All of these changes may be an invitation for us to seek stability, solid ground, and deep inner stillness. There are many resources and tools available to help us alleviate stress and find peace. A few of my favorites include yoga, breath work, and meditation. I invite you to join me in Part 2 and Part 3 of this blog.
Stress. An invitation to press the pause button and cultivate inner peace.
That morning, on the floor of the shower, after releasing a steady stream of tears, I listened to a voice deep within. You know, the one we may hear, yet ignore? Well, this time she was so loud, I heard her with profound clarity. And welcomed the invitation she offered, actually the insistence, to come full stop, turn inward, and practice self-care. I realized on a deep level that change is constant and the only things I have control over are breathing, moving my body, and meditating myself into a grounded state so I can transition through these inevitable and ever-changing cycles gracefully and peacefully.
In this moment, I invite you to pause, close your eyes, and breathe with me. Take a long deep inhale down into your belly, filling it up with air. Now, exhale as your belly glides back towards your spine. Keep going. Inhale and exhale. Breath is our direct channel to our mood, spirit, energy, and feelings of hope. Conscious breathing is right here waiting for us to show up.
I took a breath, a long, deep, slow inhale. And sighed an exhale. I longed to feel grounded and realized I couldn’t even attain that while literally sitting on the ground. Slowly and gently, I peeled myself off of the shower floor and put on my comfiest yoga gear. Instead of following a yoga kriya, I found myself intuitively practicing postures that invoked feelings of stability, peace, and groundedness. I blessed myself with palo santo and sage. I listened to my favorite yoga mantras and some fun dance tunes. I sang and danced.
In those moments, the stress melted away and everything was flowing effortlessly. I felt free and safe, full of joy and peace. And then I meditated. My heart softened and opened. I held space for myself and everyone feeling any level of stress, wishing we could all allow ourselves to hit this much needed reset button. We all need it, especially during these unusual times. Next, I indulged, in dessert.
Stress. Stressed is just desserts spelled backwards.
This is no coincidence. I know, I know … many of us know this. In my quarantine household, my housemates and I turn our emotions of feeling stressed into desserts, literally, including caramel brownies, cakes upon cakes upon cakes, hot cross buns, and more. We watch The Great British Baking Show and dream up our next baking extravaganza … donuts.
So, after yoga, I made one of my new favorite treats that tastes like dessert to me, a medicinal Chocolate Reishi Mood Milk©, created by my housemate, Sophie, the beautiful healing alchemist for Milk + Seed and my photographer for the au natural quarantine style photos for this blog series. Full of delicious stress-busting adaptogens, heart-opening cacao, healthy fats, it provided me with an overwhelming sensation of warmth and coziness. I felt grounded, nourished, and uplifted. And more connected to my body, mind, and spirit.
Stress. An invitation for you to change your stress response pattern with yoga postures, breath work, and meditation.
While most exercises reduce stress, Kundalini Yoga releases tension in our inner organs, nerves, and glands built up over time from holding the breath and muscles in our stress response pattern. Kundalini Yoga provides us with the tools to energize, balance, and strengthen our nervous and glandular systems so that we can respond to life with consciousness instead of reacting to life with anxiety, fear, and stress. The combination of physical postures, controlled breathing, and relaxation helps to lower our heart rate and blood pressure. Meditation tranquilizes our mind and opens us up into deep stillness.
Let’s create healthy stress response patterns together and celebrate with a delicious Mood Milk© or yummy, healthy dessert.
Amy Shea is a Kundalini yoga student, teacher, meditative healer, and transition coach. She also offers strategic talent guidance to nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies with a focus on social good. Amy lives in the Ojai valley where she finds joy in spending her days sharing yoga, hiking the local trails, and cooking up healing, comfort foods.
Amy brings her love and wisdom of teaching and coaching to offer heart-opening and peaceful experiences that will help connect and heal the body, mind, and soul and allow you to discover your authentic self.