March may be named after the Roman god of war, but in reality, it's one of the happiest months on the calendar. Flowers are budding, chocolate is on sale, and March’s full Moon, the Worm Moon, reaches peak illumination on Sunday, March 28, at 2:50 PM EDT. Look for it that evening as it rises above the horizon!
The long, dark nights of winter are officially over on March 20th, this year's spring equinox. Technically, the equinox is the day when the sun moves north over the celestial equator. But all you need to know is that that means the days are getting longer, the nights shorter, and the sun warmer. It's time to enjoy the simple pleasure of waking up to fresh sunlight streaming in your windows!
March 19th is World Sleep Day with the slogan 'Regular Sleep for a Healthy Future', so this month the focus will be on sleep, rest and self-care for a healthier, happier you.
Rest, relax and restore
Before we can sleep better, we need to rest the mind – a racing mind will never help you relax and drift off into a deep sleep. Little things we do in the day can often help us relax better when our head hits the pillow.
You can do many things at home to enhance your health and well-being, and the trick is to find the practice, or combination of approaches, that work for you. If you want to avoid overwhelm, don't try adding more to your to-list, but you could use something you already do to help you switch off and relax the mind. For example, if you already have a hobby, such as painting, you can try doing it mindfully. The same goes for cooking, crafting, sewing, and even exercise. Decide to commit to every activity, being present in the moment, and you will feel the relaxing benefits.
Meditation and mindful practices can wipe away the day's stresses, bringing with it inner peace. It's simple, inexpensive, and doesn't require any special equipment. Even if you only have 5 minutes to spare, spending it in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace.
Here are three types of meditation that can rest, restore and relax the mind and body.
If you're feeling stressed, try chanting.
Sound can positively affect the mind, so chanting words and sounds can be very soothing. It can be a very relaxing and healing form of meditation on its own or integrated with traditional meditation. Like the breath, it's a fantastic tool for deep relaxation and can be useful if you are short of time to achieve a relaxed state quickly.
Start with finding a comfortable position – easy yoga pose (sitting crossed legged with your hands on your thighs) or sitting in a chair with your hands resting in your lap. Choose a Mantra for your meditation. A mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat to yourself out loud or silently. It can be a more classical spiritual word like 'Om', or it can be a simple word or phrase like 'Calm' or 'I am at peace.' The words or sounds you choose aren't important as long as they resonate with you.
Close your eyes and repeat your chosen mantra to yourself. As you do so, try to focus only on the sound and the feel of your mantra and nothing else. If you find other thoughts arise, thank yourself for noticing and gently bring your attention back to your mantra.
If you want to feel energised, try transcendental meditation.
Transcendental meditation was pioneered by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the notorious guru who instructed The Beatles. This meditation style is based on the idea of not thinking – find the space and freedom of thoughts can be very liberating and relaxing. It helps people with busy, anxious minds by allowing them to slow down their thoughts, so they don't bother them anymore. When the correct state is achieved, it can be deeply relaxing – when the mind is inactive, the body can begin to relax deeply.
Followers say that transcendental meditation reduces stress and gives them increased energy levels, clarity and deeper levels of love and compassion. There are more than 10 million devotees across the globe, and the great thing is it's a natural and straightforward technique that's relatively easy to master.
Transcendental Meditation's journey begins by finding a certified TM teacher and taking courses to learn the practice. Teachers are certified by Maharishi Foundation, visit the official website at www.tm.org to find out more.
If you're feeling overwhelmed, try grounded meditation.
Grounding is a way to anchor yourself to the present moment when you're feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. It will bring you back down in a matter of minutes, bringing your awareness back to your body, your senses and the present moment.
The basic idea behind grounding is that when you find yourself feeling stressed, worried, or overwhelmed about a situation you can't control, you "ground" yourself into the present moment by observing your surroundings.
Grounding helps reduce anxious and busy thoughts by shifting your focus outside of your mind into your body and "raw sensations." There are many different types of grounding techniques designed to shift your focus into the present moment, but for today let's try some mindful stretching.
Mindful stretching is a great way to ground yourself by stepping outside your mind and inside your body. Any slow, mindful movement such as Yoga, Tai Chi, or just stretching and exploring your body's movements is a great way to be in the present moment.
Mindful stretching also helps with relieving built-up stress and tension in your muscles and joints, relaxing you both mentally and physically. We aren't always aware of how much stress and tension we are carrying in our bodies. Ever had a massage and thought, 'ouch, I wasn't expecting my shoulders to feel so tense?'. Exactly! Progressive muscle relaxation is one of the best ways to explore and release body tension. You'll be surprised by how much better your body feels afterwards.
Mindful stretching may not always be appropriate if you are on the move or at work - it would be a bit odd if you started doing seemingly random Yoga poses in the street. But it's a great way to ground yourself when you are overwhelmed at home or by yourself.
I do 15-20 minutes of mindful yoga stretches every morning before breakfast as part of my morning ritual. I consider it a healthy habit, and it keeps me going until I can book in for a full body massage.
"Let her sleep, for when she wakes, she will move mountains."