30 Days of Peaceful Activities
As a preschool teacher trainer and early childhood professor my mission was to teach adults how to help children behave and get along. Another words to get along with each other and to be peaceful. Now days, I'm retired from early childhood. I teach yoga and co-own a business that sells African drums and percussion. My mission still is to help people be peaceful. It's really important to find inner peace right now with all of the stress of today's issues. Mahatma Gandhi said, “If we are to reach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with the children.” In order to teach the children we must demonstrate peace ourselves.
Think peace. Do peaceful things. Send healing prayers to the families in Charlottesville. Open your heart and send love into the Universe. Hug someone. It is critically important to redirect any angry thoughts into constructive thoughts on how to heal our world. It's starts in each of us. Here are some ideas to help with being peaceful.
1. Take long, slow, deep breaths right into the middle of your lungs. Let your diaphragm (the area right below your lungs) push the air out. Pay attention to the air coming in and going out. Do this 3 times. It will help you relax.
2. Hug someone! It alleviates stress, boosts your immune system, and best of all raises your oxytocin (the love hormone). My yoga students all have heard me say that 4 hugs a day is the minimum. The more the better. Holding them for several seconds is good too. And hugging yourself counts. Hugging to the right makes it heart to heart! (it actually presses your left side to the other person's left. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/02/06/hugging.aspx
3. Humming soothes and relaxes you, it reduces insomnia, lowers your blood pressure and helps with sinus issues. You can just hum, hum a tune, practice the Bramhari or Bee Breath, or chant Om. Humming oxygenates your blood and may also vibrate the vagus nerve causing a sense of peace. Remember to hum alone or with others who are humming. It will make you smile.
4. Smile, at family & friends, at strangers, and even at yourself in the mirror. It makes you seem more trustworthy and helps you feel better. Just like those hugs it does amazing things for your body; lowers blood pressure and boosts your immune system. Reducing stress; it helps you look younger; and it helps you be more creative. It actually helps your brain become more positive (which feels much better). Spontaneous smiles are wonderful and even it's an "intentional" smile (you may be faking it), it still works.
5. Try hand drumming (and no I'm not prejudiced because of my business). It's fun. It helps you release a lot of tension and can make you smile and laugh. There are many health benefits to hand drumming. For one thing you are helping the right and left side of your brain communicate. This produces a dopamine (feel good neurotransmitter) uptake that helps you feel pleasant. It also helps with focus. Believe it or not drumming can help you feel peaceful and connected. You can read about the benefits of drumming in this article by Christiane Northrup. http://www.drnorthrup.com/health-benefits-drumming/
6. Dance. Yes I know it doesn't sound peaceful, but it reduces stress. It makes you feel good and also gives you a dopamine uptake (the neurotransmitter that helps you feel happy and helps with focus). It helps you breathe more oxygen and that helps you think better. Plus it can just be fun. You can even dance while you are sitting in a chair.
7. Listen to music. Whatever kind makes you feel good. There are good reasons for listening to peaceful music or music with a strong beat. So whatever you like. It lowers blood pressure, and stress. it helps alleviate anxiety. It helps the brain work better. It helps you relax.
8. Laugh! It's good for the muscles in your face. It oxygenates your cells. It reduces stress and pain. Sometimes it just helps you let go of that negative perspective and see or understand things differently. There's a lot of other theories about laughter that not have been proven. Laughing feels good. Watch a funny TV show or movie, read a funny book, be with friends, etc.
9. This morning breakfast was a nice ripe peach, Greek yogurt, and homemade granola. Shorty slept in so the house was completely quiet (no TV). I sat quietly and savored each bite, enjoying all of the wonderful flavors and the textures. It was so yummy and I felt very peaceful.
10. Cuddle with a pet. Your own pet or your friend's pet. If you can't handle that then maybe a stuffed animal, or look at pictures of cuddly animals. Once again its relaxing and helps you feel good (unless of course you are allergic). This helps you feel peaceful. When you feel peace it helps those around you feel peace.
11. Restorative yoga reduces stress and cortisol. It is very easy, as a matter of fact yogis simply lie around in gentle poses for anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes often propped with blankets and pillows or bolsters. Even though it is passive, it is energizing. It helps to balance the mind and the body. When the class is finished my students are very mellow and peaceful. It is great for everyone....beginners to advanced. You can find classes in your area or online or dvds. Click here for my class.
12. Mindful meditation is so easy. Mindlessly easy. All you do is get comfortable (couch, easy seated pose, a garden, walking, or even your bed or sitting at your desk. The list goes on.) and breathe in and out slowly through your nose. Pay attention to how it feels. That's it. Of course there can be more like paying attention to the sounds around you or how your body feels touching wherever you are. Stray thoughts may come into your head. That's okay. Bring your focus back to your breath, etc. You can observe them too. Mindfulness is powerful. It moves your thoughts out of your brain stem (flight or flight area) to your frontal cortex (rational thinking). Wow, what a boon to being peaceful! Click www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-courage-be-present/201001/how-practice-mindfulness-meditationhere for how to.
13. Eat dark chocolate. Yep, there's growing evidence that it reduces stress, improves brain function and raises dopamine (that feel good neurotransmitter). Some of the substances found in chocolate are similar to the stuff that is used in mood-stabilizing drugs. It's nutritious too. You can google it and find out all sorts of benefits. The bottom line is that it tastes good. It helps me calm down on “stormy” days. Peace!
http://www.chocolateuniversityonline.com/the-emotional-benefits-of-chocolate/14. Take a walk. It can be a slow meandering walk, smell the roses and enjoy the slowness. It can be on a path or a park or even on the sidewalk (you have to stay aware here). It becomes a mediation. Simply walking does a lot of good stuff for your body and mind. It oxygenates your brain, and helps you feel better. Once again this helps you think better. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/beverley-golden/walking-meditative_b_862350.html
14. Yoga Nidra or Progressive Body Relaxation (a little different, and very similar to each other). There are many different ways to do this. Here's what I do: First get comfortable (a cozy place or laying down). Think relaxation and take some slow deep breaths. Tell your toes to relax, then your feet, your ankles, your lower legs...keep going all the way to the crown of your head (include your facial features). Remember your fingers, hands and arms. Then just lay still for a little while and relax. You might fall asleep. I like to visualize a safe. interesting place to be. You can play music too. If thoughts come into your head just observe them and relax. This is a very calming thing to do. It lowers your blood pressure and stress level. It helps you to think better.
15. Keep a journal. Write about your feelings. No judgment just observation. For myself, First thing in the morning I write a paragraph about yesterday, events, feelings, ideas. Then I list at least 3 nice things that happened yesterday (ex. The sales lady was very helpful and smiled a lot or my yoga student gave me a nice big hug.) I also list some accomplishments from yesterday and intentions for today. One of them is usually “ to face the day with courage and wisdom.”
16.Yoga Nidra or Progressive Body Relaxation (a little different, and very similar to each other). There are many different ways to do this. Here's what I do: First get comfortable (a cozy place or laying down). Think relaxation and take some slow deep breaths. Tell your toes to relax, then your feet, your ankles, your lower legs...keep going all the way to the crown of your head (include your facial features). Remember your fingers, hands and arms. Then just lay still for a little while and relax. You might fall asleep. I like to visualize a safe cozy place to be. You can play music too. If thoughts come into your head just observe them and relax. This is a very calming thing to do. It lowers your blood pressure and stress level. It helps you to think better.
17. Be social. Get together with a friends or friends. Enjoy each others' company. Go for a hike, go to the movies, play a board/card game, or just sit and talk. It stimulates oxytocin, “the love hormone”. It helps with empathy, compassion, and bonding.
18. Do something for someone else. Volunteer, help a friend, make a donation. There's a lot of ways to help others. Compassion and empathy are pathways to peacefulness.
19. Taking a bath or a shower can promote peacefulness. We all know it's cleansing, there's more. A warm bath can do the same thing as a hug. (think about boosting the love hormone). It helps get rid of loneliness, and make you more trusting. And of course you sleep better after a warm bath or shower. (Shorty sits in the hot tub, it's a from of meditation for him). Cold baths or showers are refreshing. It helps alleviate depression too, and improves mood and alertness http://independenthome.com/the-benefits-of-bathing-for-mental-health/
20. Take a walk or just be near a body of water – ocean, lake, waterfall. It can be soothing. It let's your brain relax. It can put you in a relaxed, meditative frame of mind. It generates negative ions which helps with absorbing oxygen and balances seratonin. Looking at water is looking at “Blue Space”. This has been shown to improve quality of life and creativity.http://www.lifehack.org/424336/science-explains-how-staying-near-water-can-change-our-brains
21.Try taking a yoga class (with a good teacher). A gentle yoga session will calm you down. It moves you into a meditative state. It also helps your brain because if you are breathing deeply and moving, more oxygen gets to your brain. Once again there can be a dopamine uptake – remember that's the feel good neurotransmitter that also helps with better focus. Yoga should be pleasant. When the class is over you will feel peaceful and relaxed.
23. Have an adventure. It can be small (exploring new territory on a Sunday drive) or it can be big (skydiving). Stir up a little anticipation, and that feeling that you get when facing a scary challenge. Once you do it you feel a sense of accomplishment. This helps with positive feelings. Oh and sharing the experience with a friend is even better. Hike, kayak, explore...Once again this helps with peacefulness.
24.Forgiving will bring peace. Holding a grudge because of something someone has done, hurts you. Forgiving strengthens you. It's not about saying, “it's okay.” It's more about understanding and empathy. Sometimes it takes time and reflection. That is okay. It helps you focus on the positive rather than the negative.
“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” ~ Maya Angelou
To be continued...