Do you Love your Brain?

When I owned a yoga studio my favorite thing in the world was to receive people as they emerged from the studio after class. They were transformed: lighter, brighter, more calm. All of my business’ practices distilled down to a love of that: facilitating people accessing a layer they could not get to alone, some good sweat, some inner calm. Feeling better expands our energy and our world view, and that good energy creates, fuels, and heals. 

Last Friday I went to a benefit yoga class for the Love Your Brain Foundation. Attended by former elite snowboarder Kevin Pearce and his brother Adam, the class was part of a tour called “Mindful March”, a partnership between the Love Your Brain Foundation and Lululemon. You may already be familiar with the story behind Love Your Brain. Kevin Pearce suffered a TBI while training for the Vancouver Olympics in 2009. At the time a documentary crew was creating a movie about his life. That movie became the  documentary ‘The Crash Reel’ which details Kevin’s long path from the injury to a new life as a galvanizing activist for TBI support and recovery. Kevin and his family have created the Love Your Brain Foundation which funds mindfulness training and support for TBI patients and their caregivers. Mindful March is a partnership between Love Your Brain and Lululemon and includes events all across the U.S. and screenings of a new short film about the foundation. 

The energy at the class and around Kevin and Adam was all love, calm and healing. Their message about mindfulness for TBI got me thinking. Trauma responds to mindfulness, and so does inflammation. And we’re all inflamed. If your diet is (almost) perfect, and you’re exercising several times a week, and flossing…are you also taking time to calm your brain? Two essential practices for this are excellent sleep hygiene and meditation.  If you need a refresh on either, here are my best tips. 

Meditate

If you don’t have a meditation practice, there are lots of apps you can try that have meditations as short as one minute! I recently did a 7 day trial of CALM which not only has meditations it also has ‘sleep stories’ which are exactly what they sound like--soothing stories that encourage you to drift off to slumber. My current favorite app is Insight Timer which has over 4000 free meditations and a self-directed option with a timer. I'm also a fan of the 21 day free challenges sponsored by the Chopra Center; their meditations are perfect for beginners--themed, short and lovely. The next challenge starts April 10th! If you don't know where to begin, simply sit quietly for two minutes today and observe your breath. If you have one breath free of thought, you are golden. 

Sleep Hygiene

Guard your sleep the way you'd guard a newborn baby! 

Here's my routine:  

  • I sleep in complete darkness. 
  • I close the door of my bedroom to disconnect from the energetic parts of my house. 
  • Window open for fresh air unless it's too cold 
  • I keep my bedroom clean and organized at all times. 
  • I air out my sheets each morning. Open the windows and refresh the room. 
  • I spray rosewater on my bed before I make it. 
  • At least 6 hours of sleep, preferably 7 or 8

No worrying after 8. If you think you can't do this, we should talk. I taught myself to do this when my teenage daughter was a complete train wreck. Worrying is praying for what you don't want. Very destructive at night. 

No stressful phone calls after 8 pm. Preferably no phone calls at all. 

If I have a stressful interaction, I sage myself afterward with a sage stick. I just wave it around myself and then wet the stick in the sink. I keep my sage stick in my sterling silver baby cup right by the kitchen sink for this reason. 

No email, FB or web surfing at night after 8. Tough to do in our smartphone world, but it really makes a difference in my heart rate/anxiety level. 

When I moved into my apartment the bedroom had weird energy. I worked hard to calm it down. I have been to the crystal store several times and keep a couple of different crystals in my bedroom for energetic cleansing. The one that cleaned up the bedroom was black tourmaline. 

No eating late. I sometimes eat late dinners after evening yoga practices but I keep an eye on the clock and do my best to finish eating by 8. Yes, really. Even on weekends. 

During a tough time a few years ago I got into the habit of bringing my plush bathrobe into my bedroom like a blankie. I put it on top of my bed. Still do this every night. It holds good energy. Yes, I had a blanket when I was a child. 

If stressed or amped up, I listen to 'Yoga Nidra' sessions on my meditation app. 

The world wants you to feel your best so you can bring your brightest light each day. You alone can take care of these tender parts of yourself.  Work on your sleep hygiene tonight. 

Habit Camp

"I never thought about it that way!"

--One of my Habit Camp participants realizing how deeply held her habits are, and how they are holding her back from full power!

Do you wonder what life would be like or how much energy you'd have if you could stop being stuck in your head or spending time trying to tame your habits? GUILT is a huge waste of time. Are you emotionally eating, carrying around a sugar habit, having one too many glasses of wine, can't get that workout routine off the ground? Hanging out on the internet?

What else is possible? Break those chains, and find out. All the wonderful input from my current camp participants is informing creation of a brand new program, which starts in April! Interested? Let me know.