I have been contemplating what would be most helpful to write about during this time of adjusting to our new normal. I decided to share with you some simple practices (other than daily meditation/kriya) that I keep in my emotional and spiritual wellness toolkit that have always serve to anchor me during all seasons of life, and especially this one. Here are 3.
Use your nostril dominance to find harmony in your day
According to yogic studies, our dominant nostril changes every hour or so throughout the day. I have been doing some self-study in nostril dominance for the last couple of years now, ever since I heard about how determining which nostril we are dominantly breathing from at particular moment can tell us a great deal about our state of being at that time.
When your right nostril is dominant, the dominant energy within you is masculine. This kind of energy is best expressed through engaging in activities that require action, determination, logical thinking, and strength. This energy builds internal heat. The physical senses activated by this energy are: hands, feet, digestion & procreation. When my breath tells me I am in this state, I get up and get things done.
When your left nostril is dominant, the dominant energy within you is feminine. This kind of energy is best expressed through introspection, artistic expression of thought, meditative and intuitive qualities. This energy is very receptive to nature, and generates an internal coolness. The cognitive senses enhanced are; taste, touch, smell, hearing. When my breath tells me I am in this state, I find it is best to engage in activities that are meditative, receptive, restful, and focused on my inward journey.
When the breath flows equally between the nostrils, this energy represents an ideal state of balance. It manifests in perfect focus and concentration, wisdom and flow. This is the ideal state of meditation, however is not well suited for day to day living.
The ways I use this knowledge in my day are:
- I determine which nostril is dominant when I wake up in the morning, and I make my first step out of bed with the corresponding foot (for example, left dominant, left foot.) Ideally it is best to start the day on right dominance and “the right foot” (get it ;)?) so if I have time, I will do my best to shift to the Right before I get out of bed.
- I tune into which energy state I am periodically throughout the day, and do my best to engage in activities that are best supported by the energy that is dominant. For example, if I am about to settle down to write a blog post, but find that I am right dominant, I will instead do a a more action-oriented activity (like working out, cleaning, running errands etc). I naturally feel at peace when I live in harmony with my internal energies.
- I also practice shifting nostril dominance if the dominant energy doesn’t suit the activity. For example, if I am in bed trying to fall asleep, but I am in right-dominant, I will find it very difficult to fall asleep as my energy is ready for action. Through some simple breathing practices and positional/pressure changes I make, I can voluntarily change the dominant energy.
Heart Chakra Opener
Another daily practice I do is this very quick 2 minute heart chakra opener.
All you need to do is take a moment to think about one person, or an animal, or a plant, or a thing, or even a circumstance/situation in your life.
Hold that image in your mind, place your hands in yoga namaskar (the prayer position) at your chest (or keep your left hand over your heart) and try to generate the highest amount of loving energy about that one thing.
Feel your heart fill up with gratitude and love.
Sit in this feeling for as long as you can, perhaps a minute or two.
This is a way that we can bless something in our life. We so often seek blessings in our life, but let this be a reminder that we too can give blessings. We can bless others, we can bless the earth, and we can bless ourselves.
If you are new to this practice – start with things that are easy to love – your partner, your parents, your dog etc.
As your practice deepens, and your heart opens, you may begin blessing the things in your life that are harder to love.
Mindfulness practice: Conscious Moments
After committing to this very simple practice for the last 9 months, what once felt over-simplistic has now blossomed into something truly wonderful in my day. I don’t think I have ever in my life experienced so much presence in my day to day life, and I owe it all to this practice.
I started with just 1 conscious moment in my day; I remember the first activity I picked for myself to do with awareness was every time I drank water. Now I have 9 conscious moments in my day, and some of these activities I engage in multiple times a day, so really I have many more than 9.
If you get a chance to try some of these out, I’d love to hear what you uncover about yourself and life! Let me know.