In follow up to my last blog post, I was thinking about tools that I have used for my own self-care. Here are links to my favorite things for self-care, especially for when I'm stressed out. I hope you can find something here to help you with your own care.
I love Jon Kabat-Zinn's Guided Mindfulness Meditation CDs. I have Series 2, which consists of 4 different CDs. The first CD is sitting meditations in 3 different lengths (10 min, 20 min, and 30 min), the second CD is lying down meditations in the same lengths, the third is two guided meditations using a mountain and a lake as images to deepen your concentration, and the fourth is silence with bells at different intervals. Jon Kabat-Zinn has a soothing, mellow voice, and the varying lengths of all the programs makes it easier to fit meditation into one’s life.
Thich Hhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk who teaches that through mindfulness we can learn to live happily in the present moment. Plum Village Meditations is a lovely meditation CD with 45 minutes of bell-sounding meditation with Thich Nhat Hanh and three additional guided meditations led by Sister Jina van Hengel. These include conscious breathing for calming the mind and cultivation joy, body appreciation and turning your anger into seeds of kindness. You do not need to be Buddhist or adhere to any religion to enjoy this meditation CD.
As a massage therapist, I am constantly on the lookout for soothing, relaxing music. Here are some of the CDs that I regularly use in my massage practice. Riley Lee is a Grand Master of the shakuhachi, the Japanese flute. Oriental Sunrise is my favorite album so far. It has the flute mixed in with the sounds of ocean, which adds a rhythmic soothing quality. The Spirit of Yoga by Ben Leinbach is also another really relaxing CD. It has Indian instruments with the occasional chanting. My latest purchase was 100 Minutes: Spanish Guitar Sleep Music. The tempo is on the slow side, the Spanish guitar playing adds interest and some of the songs have nature sounds in the background (running water, crickets).
I purchased yoga instructor Shiva Rea's Drops of Nectar CD just so I could try Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra is yogic sleep, a practice to reach deep states of relaxation while still being fully conscious. The Yoga Nidra portion on the CD is about 20 minutes long. It is done while lying down and Shiva Rea guides you through a relaxation with body awareness that includes beautiful Indian music in the background.
I recently started to regularly attend a Kripalu yoga class with Maggie Sky at Roots & Wings. Yoga helps me to be centered and calm, as well as provide stretching, strength and balance exercises. Maggie's classes are a wonderful combination of stretching, stillness, and relaxation. Maggie is warm, caring, and an excellent teacher, encouraging and gently correcting if needed while doing the yoga poses. As a bonus she incorporates massage into the class!
On days when I do not attend a yoga class, and am feeling particularly overwhelmed, I really enjoy Barbara Benagh's Yoga For Stress Relief DVD. It has different practices included on the DVD such as 'Easing your Mind', 'Stomach & Digestive Issues', 'Insomnia Issues' and 'Neck, Shoulder & Back Issues'. There are over 20 different routines on this DVD ranging from 15-60 minutes in length.
I have terrible attendance record for any time I have joined a gym. For exercise I am most consistent when I do it at home. Jessica Smith is a fitness instructor who has a huge YouTube channel. She puts out a new fitness video once a week. She is encouraging and friendly. Her videos vary in difficulty, length and style, with walking, ballet/barre, aerobics, strength with and without weights. I really recommend her website if you enjoy exercise at home.