Choose Joy

It may feel like we don’t have a lot of choices right now with so many restrictions on what we can and can’t do. But there are important choices that we always have control over.

It is always our choice where we place our focus, how we respond to a situation and while feelings come as they do, we can influence those too.

If you are anything like me, you spent the first part of the pandemic watching the news, searching the internet for stats and generally living in a state of fear and anxiety. Perhaps you are still doing that? While it’s important to stay informed, it’s equally important to live life as well.

I choose joy.

You may say that is impossible as tragedy has come to your home. It has with us too with the death of a beloved family member and others fighting cancer. Of course we grieve. But then we choose to connect with each other, share loving stories and photos and help where we can.

I realize that sometimes it’s hard to stay positive, and we may need a little help. That’s where the choice of focus comes in. There are a few things we can do that make a huge difference in our mental state.

These may feel too simple to make a difference, but I encourage you to give them a try and see for yourself.

  • Get out in nature (even if it’s your own backyard)
  • Go for a walk and listen to the bird’s sing
  • Play your favorite music
  • Sing as you do your daily tasks
  • Move your body – stretch, lift weights or dance!
  • Watch a funny movie or video
  • Do something fun every day
  • Connect with a friend
  • Read a good book
  • Share something funny or uplifting on social media
  • Smile (it activates neural messaging that elevates your mood)
  • Sit quietly with your eyes closed and take a few slow deep breaths
  • Remember how strong you have been in the past
  • Make a list of what you are grateful for in life

Most of all, give yourself permission to feel joy.

Meditating for Health

You may have heard of the incredible benefits of meditation – from improved emotional well-being, to increased mental focus to a healthier body. It really is good for your health. I’ve been meditating for many years and can attest to how much better I feel.

Over time I’ve heard people say they can’t meditate – that sitting still for any length of time is too hard or their brain won’t shut up or outside distractions bring them out of it too easily. My reply is always the same.

Meditation is a practice.

The goal isn’t to do it perfectly. The goal is to simply do it. If you get distracted, simply start again. If you miss a day, start again. Let go of any judgement around this. Simply relax and start again.

If you are new to meditating, allow me to share a few tips:

The most basic technique is to sit quietly. It can be on a chair or cross legged on a pillow on the floor. Close your eyes. If you prefer, you can leave your eyes open and stare at something, such as a candle flame or nature. Place your hands in a relaxed position on your lap.

Let your mind move from outside distractions and start to focus on your breath. Feel the air come in, then out. Over and over again. If you can do this without the mental chatter we all have, then go for it. Silence is golden!

If you are like me and find the brain sometimes won’t stop chattering, then repeat a word or phrase to focus the mind. It can be anything from a simple word like “relax” to a sacred mantra such as “Om” or “Namaste.” Simply say it over and over again, either out loud or quietly inside.

Relax. Check in to see if you are holding any part of your body tight and let it soften. I often find my jaw is tight. Loosening it relaxes my entire body.

Keep going for as long as you like. You can meditate for three breathes or three hours. It’s all good!

Whenever you forget to focus on your breathe or your word (and trust me, you will), simply start again. Remember this is a practice.

Oprah and Deepak Chopra are starting a free 21 day meditation experience called “Perfect Health” tomorrow (February 3). You can sign up or try out a sample meditation on Chopra Center Meditation.

Namaste!

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