Dear Brave One,
Over the coming weeks, journey with me as I share the eight keys of the Alice Fulks Wellness path. Each week, we uncover one new key. This week I am excited to share with you… RELAXATION & PLEASURE
The Art of Doing Nothing
One of my favorite books (and movies) is “Eat, Pray, Love.” The author, Elizabeth Gilbert, is introduced to the idea of “La dolce far niente” while in Rome. This phrase loosely translates as: the sweetness of doing nothing.
How good does that sound? Enjoying the sweetness of simply being? This practice is so deeply needed in our culture right now as we are so focused on doing and on output. A great deal of us run on caffeine, adrenaline, stress, and fear.
During my battle with chronic illness, I learned the hard way that I cannot push my body beyond what feels loving. When I lose sleep, overwork, or get too stressed out, my body lets me know – immediately! Being off the caffeine these days, I can no longer “refuel” and “power through.” Nope. I’ve got to be where I am, and relaxation and pleasure are vital ingredients to my state of wellness.
The practice of “La dolce far niente” is a daily commitment to my well being and Radiant Health. In the article below, I’m excited to share with you how cultivating relaxation and pleasure can enhance your quality of health and vitality. And when you increase your energy – you have more spaciousness and more time to show up for your big beautiful life!
How do we practice?
Candles help. Soft music helps. Bathing helps. In fact, bath time is becoming a new favorite ritual for me to indulge in pleasure and relaxation. I love soaking in the tub with Epsom salt and essential oils.
How Can Bathing Benefit You?
There are so many advantages to bathing that get easily overlooked. That’s why the good folks at Lush have compiled the article entitled “5 Benefits of Bathing”. They say that bathing can induce sleep, help fight off a cold, soothe skin (especially when using their medicinal products), and improve circulation.
Another additional benefit is that scents and essential oils can improve your mood and mental state. On his website, Dr. Axe mentions the “Top Four Essential Oils for Depression.” So, if you are feeling down or are in the midst of treatment for depression, you might want to add lavender, Roman chamomile, or Ylang-Ylang to your bath (I left out bergamot because it can cause photosensitivity). Be careful with the oils though. These essences should generally be diluted in oils such as almond oil. Find out more about this process here.
I’ll be honest with you- I still wrestle with the notion of relaxation and pleasure. I am a doer by nature, and I get a thrill out of accomplishment. My Capricorn mind is alive and well; it is always teeming with ideas, projects, and goals. Truly one of my favorite things is to cross something off my to-do list. Anyone out there feel me?
However, through the battle with chronic illness, I’ve really come to revere and regard my body’s wisdom. She has become one of my greatest teachers in this life. When I tune into her guidance, I feel this relief that she feels heard and acknowledged. In this space, unwinding, slowing down and going slow begin to feel delicious.
Why is Self-care a Guilty Pleasure?
In the Huffington Post there is an article entitled “10 Health Benefits of Relaxation” by Sarah Klein, written on August 14, 2014. Here, Klein presents a compelling case regarding why relaxation has many healthy side effects.
We don’t usually hear of people having relaxation-related illnesses. However, we encounter many instances where stress does contribute to, or cause chronic illness. Relaxation is truly one of our strongest allies. It is good for the heart; lowers your risk of diseases and viruses; improves cognition; enhances your desire for a love life; staves off acne; and keeps you slim, to name a few of the benefits listed in the article. These reasons are indeed worth giving relaxation some serious street cred!
Even with all of the evidence of the benefits of relaxation, I often still struggle with the notion notion of slowing my roll (Especially on a work day). I seem to instinctively tell myself, “Look at all this stuff you have to do! Work harder!” This is why it is helpful at times to practice contrary-action and to do that I spend five minutes in a Kundalini Yoga pose called Gurupranam.
This posture is explained in an article by Erin Mason on August 17, 2015 and featured in the photo above. You sit on bended knees and extend your body forward. Your arms are also stretched out. They meet together in the center of the body above the head and touch the floor. The breath is long and deep, and the belly fully opens and expands with the breath. Give all your weight to the ground and allow yourself to relax fully.
In an article by yoga and meditation outlet Spirit Voyage, they reveal that Gurupranam means, “Bowing to the Teacher of All Things.” Spirit Voyage also shares that this posture, “Physically works on the heart and frontal lobe of the brain.”
I instantly feel calmer when I practice Gurupranam. Additionally, it grounds me to the present moment and helps me to deepen the relationship between my body and my breath. This posture also has a multitude of benefits. When you take the pose, you can feel the stretch in your spine. You are actually stimulating the flow of cerebrospinal fluid while doing this, according to Mason. He also notes that it improves digestion, which is a side effect I can certainly get on board with!
If you are a beginner at this practice, do not stress your body to reach the floor. Instead, move within your range of mobility to avoid pulling any muscles. Adding in pillows on the ground can be super helpful as well. When you are in the posture- use as many pillows as you need to help support your head as it reaches toward ground. Additionally, you can use pillows to help support you between your buttocks and your heels.
My Challenge for You
So I am throwing down a rest challenge for all of us doers out there. For one week starting today, I invite you to commit to twenty minutes a day of straight up chillaxing.
You will find me this week in my hammock outside in the desert, in the bathtub, or on my yoga mat in Gurpranam. I hope you will join me and enjoy yourself during the “La dolce far niente” challenge!
Join Me Next Time
Stay on the journey with me as we continue to dive deep into the Keys of Wellness series. Next week, we will explore the final wellness key Give What You Live.
Until then Brave One!
Love and Magic,
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