Last week I wrote about some rituals I try to practice every morning. I thought I’d also share some things I do to wind down most evenings.
1. Light Movement: Some people love to work out right before bed and others find that it keeps them awake. I fall somewhere in between. If I do an intense workout like running or something with weights I have too much adrenaline and end up not sleeping well. I do find that a bit of low-intensity exercise helps me wind down. I usually mix it up between going for a walk, restorative yoga, and light cardio.
2. Aloe Water: I drink a glass of water with a table spoon of aloe juice and a few drops of liquid chlorophyll. It’s supposedly good for your skin and I do find that I have had much less insomnia since adopting this practice.
3. Meditate: This was not something that was an easy practice for me to adopt since my mind loves to race but this helps me calm my brain down before bedtime. I started off with guided meditations which I still sometimes do but lately, I’ve taken to choosing mantras that speak to me and saying them to myself using with a Japa Mala.
4. Journal: Unlike morning pages journaling is more personal and I can go back and reflect on passages later on. If I don’t know what to write I draw a zen tangle as my entry instead. Sometimes I write a bit and also include a zen tangle.
5. Audiobooks: Sometimes I’m so tired I know I’ll fall asleep when I hit my pillow but typically that isn’t the case. I’ve found that playing an audio book and setting the sleep time on Audible is great for me. I play a book I’ve finished in the past so that way it’s something familiar that is just providing white noise.
This is one from the archives from the old site that I’ve updated with some more tips.
In the past meditation like yoga was something that I didn’t really get. I tried it multiple times and dismissed it as not being for me. My excuses were 1. I’m too type A for this, 2. This is too New Age for me, and 3. I don’t have time for this every day. Like yoga, though I found that practice and finding what works for you makes meditation easier.
I started by taking yoga classes that had a very brief meditation component. By brief, I mean 5 minutes or less. I figured I could handle five minutes. Five minutes turned into doing 9-12 minute guided meditations through apps at home. Eventually, I started doing as long as 30 minutes of meditating either at home or as part of a yoga class.
I try to start and end the day this way. Does it mean always sitting in a meditation pose and imagining I’m on a mountain or a lake no, although I do sometimes meditate that way. I tend to alternate between mantras set to music, guided meditation, and sometimes even just reading or listening to something worth reflecting on.
Have I gained spiritual enlightenment? No, at least not yet. What I have gained is some peace of mind. I’ve noticed when I have this routine I’m more patient with people and have an easier time sleeping. My office has a meditation group that meets a few times a week. I don’t make it to every session, but if I’m really stressed or feel like I’m “too busy” to go that’s when I know I should.
I recommend giving some form of meditation a try. If you don’t know where to start there are a number of great apps out there to get you started with guided meditations. My personal favorite is Insight Timer.
Howdy! Sorry for all the silence. I’ve been busy on the personal and professional fronts and to be honest it has caused me some writer’s block so I’ve been neglecting this blog and some other writing projects the past couple of months. At least at this point, I’m trying not to sweat not posting. Don’t get me wrong I love this blog and I love that you read it but this first and foremost is a project I do for myself. I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and at one point in the book, she makes a similar statement around hoping the reader enjoys and gets something out of the book, but that she really wrote it for herself. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time doing what others like or at least what I think they would like that doing something for myself is quite a liberating perspective.
While I’ve been blocked on this and some other writing projects that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been writing at all. I’ve been making notes, scribbles, and journal entries. Most of these I’ll never publish and that’s okay. These writings were about unblocking myself and finding hidden nuggets of interest.
Whether you’re a writer, an artist, a tax attorney, or have some other profession most of us suffer from some sort of block in our professional and/or personal lives at one point or another. Here’s what I’ve been up to during the past few months to get over this feeling of being stymied:
Read: If you’re stuck it can often be helpful to read or watch something inspiring. Since I’m a writer I’ve been reading several books recently on creativity and on finding one’s true passion. I mentioned Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic which is a wonderful book on the creative process and living life as a creator. I highly recommend it. I have also recently enjoyed Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass and Martha Beck’s Finding Your North Star. I also reread Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost. If you ignore the rest of my suggestions that’s fine but please do yourself a favor and read everything Ms. Solnit has ever written.
Get Moving: I run and do yoga which I still love. You don’t need to be a gym rat…because lord knows I’m not to get moving. I find taking a walk in the park or even just around the block when I’m strapped for time helps lift my mood and clear my head. I also recently took a Feldenkrais class. It wasn’t really about breaking a sweat. It is much less intense than yoga or pilates but it is great for learning more about your flexibility and equilibrium.
Meditate: Meditation is less about visualizations for me and more about getting my mind to quiet down. I’m lucky enough to work in an office with a weekly meditation group and one of my yoga instructors does a Yoga Nidrameditationn after her class which is a wonderful way to wind down on a weekday evening. I also listen to some guided meditations at home particularly around sleep because I’m a hyperactive sleeper and have found this to be a great tool for helping me get more shut eye. There are a lot of different apps out there on mindfulness and meditating. I personally have been using Insight Timer on iOS. It has recorded guided meditations and a timer if you’re practicing a different meditation on your own.
Journal: You don’t have to be an elegant writer to keep a journal. You actually don’t have to write period. Aside from keeping a traditional diary I also keep a visual journal. I cut out quotes and images from magazines that inspire or spark something in me and paste them into a blank book that I go back and flip through when I’m feeling stuck.
What do you do to get past blockers in your life?
I’m a bit of a journal junkie. I will find any excuse to buy a new notebook. Journaling and notetaking are great practices for both creativity and reflection. Everyone has their own system that works for them. I know a lot of people who keep one notebook for everything. Everyone has their own system that works for them. I know a lot of people who keep one notebook for everything. I personally keep several notebooks for different purposes and that works well for me. I also keep these books in their own locations. It helps me to concentrate on one particular thing at a time. I keep a personal journal by my reading chair, a notebook for work ideas to brainstorm at the office, I keep a notepad on my nightstand to write down random ideas that wake me up a night (otherwise I can’t fall back asleep), and I keep a mini notebook in my
Everyone has their own system that works for them. I know a lot of people who keep one notebook for everything. I personally keep several notebooks for different purposes and that works well for me. I also keep these books in their own locations. It helps me to concentrate on one particular thing at a time. I keep a personal journal by my reading chair, a notebook for work ideas to brainstorm at the office, I keep a notepad on my nightstand to write down random ideas that wake me up a night (otherwise I can’t fall back asleep), and I keep a mini notebook in my purse for article ideas and other thoughts that come to me on the go. I realize how obsessive and crazy this sounds, but it’s my way of compartmentalizing different areas of my life.
I now have yet another journal to add to my list. I started keeping a notebook to reflect on my yoga practice. I log my workouts, reflect on how I felt during each class, and keep notes on poses I want to improve on, yoga books I want to read, etc. I purchased Chronical Books’ Yoga Journal because I loved the layout, but anyone could do a similar practice with a blank notebook. I store it by my meditation area in my apartment so I can get into the practice of ending meditation time with this reflection on days I do yoga.
Do you keep a journal(s)? Please share any creative practices you have.