Audio & Visual Clips
Finals are just around the corner, but that does not mean the extraneous stress and calamitous worrying has to be too.
As you find yourself encircled by page-flipping textbooks, scattered loose-leaf handouts, and computer tabs, remember to give yourself room to breath and relax. A strategy I found helpful was the off-on method. Begin your studying with a solid 25 minute block of work. Then rest for 5 minutes. Repeat the 25 on, 5 off for another two cycles. After the forth 25 minute block, take 15- 20 minutes off. The breakdown is as follows: (25 on, 5 off, 25 on, 5 off, 25 on, 5 off, 25 on, 20 off, repeat). You can adjust/ tailor the time blocks best to your individual needs.
For some other great strategies, click on the link: 5 Great Study Skills.
Enjoy the super relaxing/ focusing YouTube video from utopian sounds…
Here we are, a few weeks into the new year, and for many this is the time of new beginnings. Whether you’ve made a resolution of some sort, or you’re returning to school for a new semester, yoga can help focus our efforts as we move forward into this new time.
A rising sun often symbolizes new beginnings, and in yoga the sequence of poses known as sun salutations (or surya namaskara) are used at the beginning of a yoga practice in the same way, to symbolize a fresh practice. Like the sun warms the earth, sun salutations warm our bodies in preparation for a yoga practice. The flow of poses help to steady the mind and bring awareness into the moment.
So, here is my suggestion to you: if you find yourself losing focus or dedication to your new year efforts, call a time out, and recompose yourself through a few rounds of sun salutations. I recommend at least five rounds, but do as many as you need or like!
Below is a relatively well known yogini (a female yogi, or yoga practitioner), Kino MacGregor, demonstrating the two variations of sun salutation. Follow along, try your best, and have fun! Stay light in your efforts, and keep your goals in mind.
Also, stay tuned in here. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing more about specific yoga postures, building into a home yoga practice for you, as well as discussing ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of life, and its affects through a yoga practice.
If you’re further interested in yoga, beginning in February, come by the two weekly yoga classes (free for SJC students) in the John A. Danzi Center, right on the SJC Patchogue campus. Come, and be curious!
It is a week before Thanksgiving which implies a few things. They have begun the blitzkrieg of Christmas commercials, the days are getting shorter and colder, and all of those mid-semester assignments are due. That means a lot of studying.
To balance the stress of the day-to-day, try working on some relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation. It may seem simple, but when was the last time you felt your diaphragm fully expand, or your shoulders without any tension?
As for studying, I found four things to be most helpful in the process:
1- maintain focus (let the family know, find a quiet space, turn off the cellphone)
2- have some sort of easy-music playing (classical, jazz, ambient sound-scapes, whatever you’re into but is not distracting)
3- have healthy snacks/ tea on standby (carrots and humus, bananas, peppermint tea, etc.)
4- keep a timed schedule (my most effective pattern: on for 25 minutes, off for 5 minutes [after every 3rd 25 minutes take 20 minutes off])
Below is a YouTube video link that is great when played in the background while working, relaxing, or writing a blog post on a Thursday morning (hehe).
video channel credit: YellowBrickCinema, creative commons
As we roll like falling leaves into the thick of autumn, the nights grow darker, the book stacks grow higher, and eyelids grow tired. But as time grows, so do we. With that growth we expand into new spaces full of opportunity and wellness. Here are some quick tips on how to make the most of the upcoming weeks.
Keep the Work Flow Steady
A part of remaining at ease is being productive. By maintaining a steady rhythm, we can dive into the deeper waters of our capacity. The key is consistency. Establishing a productive pattern generates a baseline of your “norm” functioning, from which you can delve into new and positive directions. If you repeatedly draw a picture of a house, in time that picture will grow cleaner and more sophisticated; and when we are able to create more deeply, we feel more accomplished and in turn more at ease.
Be Your Lead Foot
Keep on top of assignments and due dates. If free time arises, seize the opportunity to get ahead on your work — because once the winter months blow on through, the workload may just blow you over. Take initiative and charge when others seem to be stagnant and lagging. By being your lead foot, you can establish the momentum needed to propel you into a clearer and more decisive movement.
See the Beauty in IT
It can be difficult to take notice of the present moment in the normal and still. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of change for us to become aware. Autumn is an excellent time to take notice of being present. The rapid changes in the temperature, foliage, and daylight hours are great reminders of the ever-moving Earth: sunrise sunset, shifting clouds, dancing leaves, smiling friends, warm home cooked meals, migrating birds and all that jazz. Beauty is not a stagnant point in the stillness, but rather a movement through change that is wonderfully orchestrated in tune with the shifting Earth and growth in the becoming of the present moment.
Music is a great medium for keeping at ease while maintaining focus on the present at hand. Click on a pic below for an autumn-feeling surprise:
Photo Credit: David Porter, CLOURlovers, hdwallpapersinn.com, brainerd.com
Music Credit: Great Lake Swimmers, Iron &Wine, A.A.Bondy, Ray LaMontagne
It may take less muscles than a frown, but sometimes a smile requires much more energy. Have you ever been walking down the street or the hallway and saw someone coming from the other direction and while passing they flash a quick smile? Think of a time where it was just a courtesy gesture and you smiled a split second in return but dropped it immediately after the pass. Now think of a time where it was oddly more than a courtesy and the passerby was genuinely smiling; you may have been confused why, but it was deffinately genuine.
Acting as a mirror, others reflect our perceptions and internal reality. When another smiles, we recognize an existing happiness or contentment, some relative homeostasis of being, in our shared reality. The internal conversation runs like so: “They’re happy – Am I happy? – Son of a gun I’m smiling now.” The smile, a biomechanical statement of happiness and by extension love, usually holds the greatest energy in most interactions and thus takes precedence.
But enough of my jibber-jabber and watch the video below. Annnnddd keep on smiling, ’cause it’s worth it.
It’s time for bed, time to sleep and wake up refreshed…ahhhhhhh — still awake? What gives? Why is it so difficult to shut ’em and drift off ’til tomorrow? It’s not like the other side of the pillow is going to be any cooler after the fifth flip, and those crickets are not going to all of a sudden stop being crickets; so what are you going to do?
First off, it might be wise to stop reading this right now and go to sleep. Seriously, the miraculous thing about the internet and text messages and all that in the cloud: it is all going to be there tomorrow when you wake up (and if something happened where it wasn’t, buddy you’ll be too busy fending off gangs of marauders or zombies or some nonsense like anyway). Any bit of energy you struggle and fight so desperately to hold tonight is just going to be taken out of tomorrow. So the first step is to turn off the cell and the NCIS re-runs and get a technology-free night. It is a herculean feat, I know, but it can be done and it feels absolutely choice when you wake up.
I realize I’ve already suggested turning off the computer and phone (I hope you are reading this in the morning), but if you’re still up, here are some other things that prevent sleep besides the unyielding pull from technology:
What you eat before you sleep is crucial to a goodnight’s rest. I know it is a big thing in Europe to eat late and all, but the foods here are chucked, loaded, stuffed and supersaturated with all sorts of fat, salt, and simple sugars (I call ’em “quick-sugs”), that your metabolism has a bit of a fit trying to magically work them into your body as PIECES OF YOU. So eating well throughout the day and nothing more than a snack before bed will do wonders combatting those doldrum red-eyed-blues. Quick note: if ya love ya cups of coffee or energy drinks, it takes 8-14 hours to clear half of what you consumed in caffeine out of your body, pending on your metabolism. So if you drank 150mg of caffeine at 5pm, there is still going to be 75 mg shootin’ through your bloodstream at 3 in the morning. For more on great nutrition tips, check out our GREEN ROOM page.
Stress and Hormones:
Everyone has stressful days, but so often can it carry into a stressful night. One of the best ways to simmer down before bedtime is to be consistent with your routine, unless you notice that routine as the source of continual stress. If so, you will have to experiment here and there to find what works best for you. Whether you like to read a bit after dinner, chat with whomever, work on a project for work or school, if it’s something that cools down the pomp of a tumultuous day – go for it. Pre-bedtime can be a great time to meditate if you’re into that kind of thing. Part of meditation, however, is choosing your focus. If your focus is stressful, well it’s not going to do much good. (focus tips: breath deeply, actualize all those little alveoli openings in your lungs with each breath, visualize nature and soft light). Gentle stretching is also another great way to loosen up from the tight-turning day. If you have a partner, firstly God bless you, secondly massages are awesome. It is not recommended to exercise vigorously before sleeping. It may fatigue your muscles and mind, but there is a major difference between being fatigued and being tired.
I don’t like to brag or anything but this blog is full of up-to-date, fresh and intellegent posts (nearing 350) written by some truly gifted people. I’m sure if you are fully willing you can find something within one of our many categories that works.
Another great way to catch some zzz’s is listening to soft ambient music or soothing sounds. Below is a 4-hour Youtube vid from Alex A of Ocean Waves.:.:.:.
Candle-burnt eyes collapse into a heavy fall
Behind white smoke that
Shrouds the edges of Man’s visage
It cloaks all features but
Those dusty globe eyes that
Drift towards the ground
When the eyelids close
Outlined in black, faded with the upmost care and neglect
Closing the doorway
Where once stood nothing but open space
Eyes open, dilated pupils
Shift upwards to a point beyond the mountain’s peak
And contract like a lightning bolt
Shot across the gold-stained blue iris
A raging-soft sea in a storm
The eyes focus parallel to the surface of a rotating planet
Beacons of pure silver golden blue light
Expand from behind the eyes
Beaming out magnified by the curvature of the lenses
Piercing the cloak of smoke
That clouds the world
The fog it scatters for the shadows
But sinks into nether
Man levitates arms out, ankles hung, hair as waves.
“Be not my requiem or my lullaby
Stand not in my shadow or at my feet
Stand beside me, shoulder-to-shoulder
And be my friend.”
Lay back and close the eyes to this meditative video from Holylightangels:
Love – When your heart reflects light upon the fabric that clothes your soul.
Peace – When that love finds stillness in movement with the soul.
Follow the link below for a mirroring video::
Finding a quiet space and a comfortable seat, allow yourself to settle and connect with the guided breathing practice while Zen Garden by Kokin Gumi creates the backdrop…
- Inhale Freely & Exhale Freely (12 x’s)
- Inhale Freely & Double the length of your Exhales (12 x’s)
- Inhale Freely & Exhale Freely (12 x’s)
- Maintaining this connection and awareness with the breath throughout the rest of Zen Garden