This week’s Dungeon Prompt:
When you’re feeling down or just need a push forward with your day, where do you look for inspiration? What drives you, or keeps you smiling? Or when you’re really down, what keeps you alive, and getting out of bed each morning? You don’t have to write about a major presence or source of inspiration in your life, but can just tell us about one of the little things that elevate you in some way.
One of the best things about 30+ years of yoga and meditation, as well as a lot of emotional processing thrown in along the way, is that I rarely feel “really down” or depressed. I DO however struggle with frustration over the long trek with physical ill-health as well as the normal ups and downs of life and have days when I really need to shift.
I have a whole toolkit of cures for what ails me emotionally and/or spiritually, with variations to suit different circumstances:
- I start every morning with waking up and aligning my chakras by visualizing the energy spinning in each one from root to crown as soon as I wake up. It helps me start the day in balance and with more energy. Then I mentally list a few “gratitudes”. Some days that’s enough to set the tone all day.
- If I’m feeling logy because of the muscles interfering with sleep, I do either the 8 Key Breaths or Flying Crane Chi Gung or the 5 Tibetan Rites or a combination. They not only balance energy and align the chakras, but open and build the flow of energy so I’m more energized as well as calm and in balance.
- If I’m feeling uneasy or anxious, I like to do Yoga Nidra or a series of chants. My current favorite roster of chants is to say the lovingkindness chant for 10 minutes, then sing the Gayatri Mantra and Om Shanti. After I practice Yoga Nidra or chanting I feel balanced, calmed and my heart is open and full. Can’t be open-hearted and anxious at the same time.
- When my writing is feeling stuck, I do writing practices a la Natalie Goldberg. Get out a notebook and a pen, pick a topic (usually out of her suggested exercises in Writing Down the Bones or Wild Mind, set timer for 10-20 minutes and let fly. It doesn’t work if I type, gotta sit down and write by hand.
- One of my almost daily practices is to spend some time sitting on our sun porch either with a laptop or a notebook, enjoying the sunniness and looking out into the garden as I work. It gives me a lift every time.
- In nice weather one of the best mood-boosters I have is to just go for a short walk someplace that inspires me. Fortunately there’s a very nice park right behind the houses across the street, so it’s easy. I also love going to Ashland, Henry Clay’s estate, to walk around on the grounds. When I’m in Marin there’s a 1-1/2 mile walk in a loop around the hills where I house sit (and used to live) that puts me in a place of joy every time I walk it.
- For 2 or 3 years now I’ve been doing a daily e-mail check-in with a long-time (40+ years!) friend. Each day we say (1) how we’re feeling, (2) what we intend to do that day, (3) three things we’re grateful for, and (4) anything that brought joy. It really helps to stay mindful, keeps a focus on all the good that’s happening and most especially it is so helpful to have someone with whom to check in about it all every day. And I’m very grateful the internet allows us to do this in spite of 400 miles between 🙂
The biggest thing for me is realizing that if something feels “off” then energy is in some way out of balance. The main focus for me is thus maintaining alignment and balance in my chakras, my energy, my body. When it’s all open and aligned, it’s just about impossible to feel down (which is not to say that it alleviates personal grief or shock but it does help to keep those things from overwhelming life).
Most of the time I try to rotate among a number of these practices enough to hold a place of equilibrium without having to stop and do one of them to get back on track. But getting off track is pretty easy; as long as I can stay tuned in enough to realize I need to do something and then to “feel” which practice would serve, being “really down” is an infrequent to nonexistent feeling for me.