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Health

9 Effective Tips to Manage Chronic Pain

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Chronic pain is basically any pain that has a duration of 3-6 months and could extend much further. A popular alternative definition for chronic pain states: involving no arbitrarily fixed duration. It is “pain that extends beyond the expected period of healing”.

Epidemiological studies have found that 10.1% to 55.2% of people in various countries live their lives trying to manage their chronic pain.

I’ve recently dealt with a 2 year battle of sciatic nerve pain stemming from a pinched nerve caused by my L5/S1 disc herniating out onto my sciatic nerve, sending shooting, searing hot, cripplingly demoralizing pain from my lower back all the way down my right leg, leaving me all but bedridden.

Obviously, there are different levels, degrees, and types of pain. Out of all the different types that I’ve experienced in my life, including birthing labor pains, this was the worst!

Unfortunately, western medicine usually treats the symptoms of the issue but rarely delves into dealing with the root of the issue.

There is a common practice in western medicine to treat pain with opiates, which has caused an opiate epidemic. Opiates are highly addictive, causing internal damage to otherwise healthy organs and they don’t actually fix the root issue. In my experience, I have found one medical professional after the next that wanted to prescribe pain meds but did not have a lot to offer in the way of getting to the root of my issue. While you’re experiencing chronic pain, it can be a daunting and painful challenge just getting to and from doctors offices, having imaging done and getting little to no answers, only to leave with yet another prescription that can only barely alleviate the pain.

This journey took me on an in-depth discovery of myself, the medical community, and ways to effectively manage chronic pain. I’m going to share with you a recipe of practices that I created for myself to manage my pain.

1. Stay Away from Opiates

I myself chose not to take opiates to relieve my pain. I did not want to add insult to injury and create yet even more illness from taking addictive pain meds.

Opiates include a variety of drugs ranging from legal drugs such as fentanyl, codeine, and morphine, to illegal drugs such as heroin. The one thing they all have in common is the ability to depress or slow down the body’s central nervous system.

There are three classifications of opiates:

The first group contains naturally occurring opium derivatives including morphine.

The second group contains partially synthetic derivatives of morphine, called opioid drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone.

The third group contains synthetic compounds like Fentanyl, alfentanil, levorphanol, Meperidine, methadone, codeine, and Propoxyphene.

These drugs only mask the root of the issue, they have harmful side effects, and will NOT cure the root cause.

Pain is your bodies way of communicating with you and where you need to focus your attention. It’s an alarm to get you to the root of the problem.

Opiate usage can dull and numb the senses, keep you unaware of your true pain levels and how to manage it.

If you do have to take them, moderate and minimize: use only when the pain is unbearable.

Instead, I chose pharmaceutical grade THC and CBD oils and tinctures that do not have addictive qualities. Thankfully there has been a surge of new information surrounding medical cannabis, CBD oils, and tinctures along with passionate individuals and companies that are creating effective and safe ratios to treat and relieve chronic pain and inflammation.

2. Meditation and Affirmations

Meditation is one of the most important practices that you can learn to assist you in bringing the intensity of your pain down, to calm the nervous system, and to center yourself.

A calm mind is a powerful pain reliever.

calm mind Angela Fitts Image

For more in-depth information on how to begin your practice of meditation read Katya’s article “Meditations For Beginners: Best Ways To Start Your Practice”

Learning to breathe into your pain, to let go and surrender, will be one of your best tools.

It takes presence, courage, commitment, and consistency to evolve your practice, but you will notice a big difference in your ability to manage your pain.

Daily affirmations of healing are a must.

Visualize and verbalize your vibrant health. Only speak healing words into yourself, speak as if you are already healed. See yourself doing the things you want to do, and adopt a belief that it’s on the way.

Discouragement will come up a lot when you’re feeling awful and experiencing debilitating pain, so you have to be disciplined in your desire to heal.

Allow yourself to feel discouraged as you should, considering the pain, but don’t wallow in it. Be willing to pick yourself back up and move forward.

A wonderful book on healing is “You can Heal your Life” by Louise Hay.

Louise Hay Book Image

3. Take the Initiative

What exactly does this mean? It means not leaving the responsibility of your healing and health in the hands of medical practitioners. You have to take control of your destiny, of your healing, of your well being. No one is going to come and wave a magic wand and end the misery. You have to dig yourself out.

You are alone with your pain, people can love and be supportive in your journey but it’s you who has to endure and manage your pain. You have to will yourself healthy, you have to do the “work” if that means physical therapy, show up EVERY single time, even when you don’t feel like it. Even if that means minimizing your activity and resting, do it. If that means eating healthy foods to assist your body in healing, give up the junk. And if that means asking and allowing others to care for you, be vulnerable and ask. It’s about balancing your inner will to heal and your outer practical steps towards that healing.

One thing about being in long extended periods of pain with limited mobility, you will have to become comfortable being vulnerable.

Don’t expect anyone to make it better for you, make it better for yourself!

4. Diet, Mobility, and Exercise

Our bodies are divinely created to endure immense levels of trauma and injury. With that being said, it’s vital to feed yourself the proper nutrition to aid in your healing. Hydration is number one, and is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is the cause for the majority of health issues today. Drink at least an ounce of water for every pound you weigh. Make sure you are choosy about your water quality and the container that holds your water. Glass being the ideal receptacle and make sure you are praying into your water. Water has consciousness and responds to your positive intentions. Positive intentions spoken into your food and water changes the molecular makeup.

For more education on this see Dr. Masaru Emoto’s work. Here’s a snippet of an experiment where he proves this.

Eat live, fresh, organically sourced food. Lots of green foods, which are filled with chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll is a green pigment present in plants which facilitates the absorbtion of light from the sun. Consuming chlorophyll from vegetal sources can help with blood detoxification, boosts energy naturally, fights fatigue and assists in the prevention of cancer.

Eat foods that will support your vital life force energy: veggies, fruits, live, whole organic foods.

flower salad image

Try to avoid dairy products, which increase inflammation in the body.

Avoid caffeine. Caffeine exhausts the nervous system and can decrease your pain threshold, making the nervous system more alert to pain.

Take supplements!

Do the research, expand your knowledge, seek alternative methods and be consistent.

A few really good ones to mention are Curamin: a combination of curcumin (It is the principal curcuminoid of turmeric, a member of the ginger family) and boswellia (also known as Indian Frankincense. Resin made from boswellia extract has been used for centuries in Asian and African folk medicine. It’s believed to treat chronic inflammatory illnesses, as well as a number of other health conditions). When curcumin and boswellia are combined, the boswellia increases the absorption rate of the anti-inflammatory compounds in the curcumin.

Most illness and pain is derived from inflammation in the body.

Magnesium is vital even if you are not suffering from chronic pain, but especially when you are experiencing high levels of inflammation. Magnesium is a powerful pain-relieving mineral. In fact, some researchers believe this mineral holds the key to resolving many types of chronic pain and most people are deficient in magnesium.

In the body, magnesium converts vitamin D, which the body needs to take advantage of bone-strengthening calcium – into a form that it can use efficiently.

Be as active as you can be, without adding extra pain to yourself. Movement will be your friend. Even if it’s difficult and painful, movement is a huge step forward from staying stagnant and sedentary.

Even small attempts towards keeping active will be beneficial.

5. Salt Bath’s

Angela Fitts Salt Bath Image

I can’t say enough about this wonderful, easy practice. During my intense period of chronic pain, I literally took 2-3 hot, Epsom salt baths a day! First off it takes the weight of gravity off and allows you to relax your muscles. The salt pulls out toxins and the heat aides in pure relaxation and lightens muscle tension. My baths meant everything to me. They help soothe tremendously.

6. Use Alternative, Holistic Pain Therapies

We are so fortunate to have access to alternative health practitioners: massage, essential oils, acupuncture, reiki, sound healing, network spinal analysis (Gentle precise touch to the spine cues the brain to create new wellness promoting strategies).

Create a cocktail of alternative and conventional care that is personalized and geared toward your health condition. Be open to researching and seeking out qualified practitioners that can assist in your journey to healing.

Conventional medicine is a wonderful and life-saving resource, not to be discounted by any means. Using discernment when to move forward in exploring alternative options is key. Or vice versa knowing when to seek conventional medicine when alternative options you’ve sought aren’t providing long-term relief.

We’ve created so much resistance around the word “alternative” because somehow that translates to negating traditional medical practices. I found that it’s vital to be open, educated and willing to explore and experiment with newer therapies available. When you are suffering debilitating chronic pain and illness you have to be willing to try. When you’ve exhausted traditional western medicine and it isn’t helping, you have to be willing to expand your own practice, remove resistances and actively seek those who are truly informed about “alternative” therapy and healing modalities.

There is most certainly a need to use discernment, same thing in the case of exhausting alternative therapies you need to know when it’s time to seek conventional medicine.

I tried to heal myself naturally first through noninvasive practices, but as time went on I sought out a neurosurgeon and turns out I did indeed need surgery to fix my injury. I don’t regret the path I took at all, the organic, alternative therapies I did in the interim were not in vain. It kept me physically strong and prepared me for surgery and allowed me a speedy recovery. I believe surgery should always be a last resort.

7. Be your own Cheerleader

Be your own Cheerleader Image

When experiencing day in and day out extreme pain you have to become your own best friend, your own cheerleader and your own voice of encouragement.

It’s wonderful to have family and friends encouraging you and sending beautiful blessings and intentions, but unfortunately, when you’re dealing with chronic pain specifically, you will find that most of your time is spent alone. You’re going to have to find that inner voice that speaks loudly to your healing and well being.

You will cry, you will ache, you will feel like giving up, you will be confused, you will be exhausted, you will be discouraged, you will be in agony and you will be enraged and every single expression is worthy of being felt and heard.

You mustn’t suppress any of it. When you’re done feeling it, let it pass and move into being proactive about healing.

Look at others powerful testimonies of healing to encourage you. Surround yourself with pleasant things, stay as active as you can, fill your time with positive reading, and reflections. Get to know yourself, enjoy your own company. Find healthy outlets to keep your mind occupied: writing, reading, researching, crafts, arts, music, whatever your personal interests are.

8. Practice Gratitude and Compassion towards yourself

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Practicing daily gratitude is essential. When you are experiencing intense pain, it’s not going be easy to practice. Even on your worst days it’s more important than ever to stay mindful, and saturate yourself in gratitude, this is going to lift your mood, remind you of all the blessings you still have and that you will eventually heal and it keeps your heart open and content.

Taking a huge dose of gratitude the moment you wake up every morning will affirm your vibration and transmute victim mentality. Be gentle, loving, soft, nurturing and compassionate with yourself, don’t wait for others to give you this, do it for yourself.

9. Get as much quality sleep as possible

Sleeping is essential to healing. When you’re in extreme pain, it’s very difficult to sleep. Drink chamomile tea before bed, take a hot bath with lavender oil, take melatonin, make sure your bedding is always clean and that you have proper pillows and body alignment for sleeping.

Wear comfortable sleepwear or sleep nude for optimal sleep. Do breathing exercises before bed to calm the nervous system. Make sure your room is dark, light can be disruptive. Turn off all gadgets ie: tv, phones, computers, and tablets. Hope for a better tomorrow and be grateful you got through your day.

The Bottom Line

Healing is not linear, some days will be better than others. Try not to get discouraged on the tougher days, know that better days are ahead of you.

You can heal, you can manage your pain without becoming addicted to harmful drugs and you can be your own advocate, it’s all about not giving over your power solely to the medical community. Your healing is your responsibility and that should empower you.

Happy healing, I hope these tips encourage you to start an optimistic approach to overcoming your chronic pain. Remember that information is just information, concepts floating around until you actually put things into practice. No one can do it for you but you!

DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE AND WEBSITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained in this article are for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Angela is an Empowerment Ambassador, Health and Wellness Advocate. She is a student and an example of holistic, spiritually enhanced and youthful living. Angela empowers people to live the heart's path and to believe that life doesn't require one to age quickly and live a life of illness. Writing articles for SOLANCHA Magazine is one of the ways she expresses her passion for inspiring people to become a happier and healthier version of themselves.

Health

Feng Shui For Health And Longevity: Protect Yourself Against Premature Death!

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The Chinese believe that there is no good luck without good health and long life. Though most people who are interested in Feng Shui, mostly focus on prosperity and success, experienced Feng Shui practitioners know that without creating good Feng Shui for health and longevity, all our Feng Shui efforts towards wealth and success will be a waste of time. To enjoy your life and all the benefits that it can offer you, you need to be healthy and live long.

Therefore, I decided to share with you important Feng Shui tips for health and longevity that will help you to improve the quality of your life.

Feng Shui For Health And Longevity: 8 Essential Tips

Tip #1: Overcome Poison Arrows Emanating From Your Surroundings

Sha Chi, also referred to as feng shui poison arrows, is attacking energy that comes from sharp angles pointed at your front door. Poison arrows can weaken the energy of your house, and destroy the health, peace, and well-being of the entire family. Therefore, it is very important to overcome all the poison arrows!

Make sure that your main door is not being hit by anything sharp or pointed, anything angular, or anything that seems to be threatening. To determine if there are any poison arrows hurting your front door, stand at the front door and face out. Make sure you don’t see the following features:

  • triangle roof line from the opposite neighbor house;
  • edge of a building;
  • lamp post;
  • high rise tower;
  • steps leading up and down;
  • cemetery.

How To Overcome The Poison Arrow?

In Feng Shui, we use the destructive or the exhaustive cycle of the 5 elements to overcome the poison arrow. For doing this, you need to check a compass to find what direction the poison arrow is coming from. Here are some helpful Feng Shui tips for your front door on how to overcome the poison arrows.

If the poison arrow is coming from the South, then you need to use the Water or Earth element to destroy its negative influence. For example, you can display a fountain or a crystal.

If the poison arrow is coming from the North, then use the Earth or Wood element to destroy its negative energy. For example, you can display a crystal or a plant.

If the poison arrow is coming from the East or Southeast, you need to use the Metal or Fire element to overcome it. It would be very beneficial to hang a windchime and use more light.

If the poison arrow is coming from the West or Northwest, use the power of the Fire or Water element. It’s beneficial to install bright lights or place a fountain here.

If the poison arrow is coming from the Southwest or Northeast direction, then use the Wood or Metal element. For example, you can place a plant here or hang a wind chime.

Overcoming Poison Arrows Table

Tip #2: Beware of poison arrows inside the home

You should be aware of poison arrows inside the house and ensure that you or any members of your family are not sleeping directly beneath exposed beams, as these will cause frequent illness, headaches, and an inability to sleep peacefully.

Tip #3: Sleep With Your Head Pointed To Your Tien Yi Direction

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Each of us should sleep with our heads pointed to our health direction – Tien Yi. The Tien Yi direction is the direction of the Heavenly Doctor.

To get your personalized Tien Yi direction, you need to use your date of birth to calculate the number and refer to the table below. The following is the formula to calculate your health direction.

Formula:

Take the last two digits from the year of your birth and add them up until they become a single-digit number. Then if you are male, use 10 minus the single-digit number. If you are female, add 5 to the single-digit number.

For example, you are male born in 1976.

7 + 6 = 13

1 + 3 = 4

10 – 4 = 6

So, the final number is 6. When you refer to the table below, search for number 6. And, your Tien Yi direction is Northeast.

If you are female born in 1976, the calculation will be as follows:

7 + 6 = 13

1 + 3 = 4

5 + 4 = 9

So, the final number is 9. When you refer to the table below, search for number 9. And, your Tien Yi direction is Southeast.

Feng Shui For Health Tien Yi Direction table Image

Once you know your Tien Yi direction, you can effectively tap into the cosmic energy of the universe to receive a flow of good healthy Chi into the body through your Crown chakra while you are sleeping. And if you accompany the sleep with a powerful visualization you will infuse your body with vital energy. To do this, just before you fall asleep, simply visualize a very bright white light entering your body through your Crown chakra.

Tip #4: Make Sure That Your Bedroom Is Not Cluttered

It is impossible to create good Feng Shui for health and longevity if your bedroom is cluttered! Good energy in your bedroom is essential for good health! When we sleep, we need to make sure that all the energy that enters our bodies complements and animates us, is favorable. Therefore, it is so important to make sure that your bedroom is not cluttered.

Ensure that there are no pockets of severely bad Yin energy caused by stale air. Make sure that there are no corners where you have perpetual piles of dirty laundry. It is vital to keep the bedroom free of clutter and to make sure your bed sheets and pillow cases get cleaned and sunned regularly!

Do you sun your bed sheets and pillow cases? This is like a Yang energy bath in sunshine. Take your pillows and (if possible) your mattresses into the open area where there is bright sunshine, and give them a sunshine bath once a month. This is one of the best ways to ensure that the the Chi within your body moves very nicely when you sleep.

Tip #5: Take Care Of Your Health Sector

Feng Shui For Health Image

The East corner of your house represents good health for the family. If the East sector of your house has a good Feng Shui, family members will enjoy excellent health and live long lives. If this sector has bad Feng Shui, illness can befall the family.

To find out where the East sector is, check out my article “The Feng Shui Bagua Map: How to Use It?”.

To enhance the East sector, use plants. The element of the East is Wood. Therefore, placing a healthy and flourishing plant in the East will activate excellent health luck for residents of the house. But make sure that the plant appears green, lush, and well cared for. Also, remember to immediately trim any dead, dying, or yellowing leaves or branches. Plants that are diseased will attract sickness and deadly energy. Just keep in mind that any plant placed in the East sector of your home will reflect the health condition of the family members. Therefore, to prevent sickness, make sure your plants are healthy!

Tip #6: Display Fuk Luk Sau In The Dining Area

To have good Feng Shui in your eating and dining area, display the Deities Fuk Luk Sau in the dining area facing your dining table. Make sure that they are placed on a high side table in the dining room from where they are said to create auspicious Chi for the entire household.

Fuk Luk Sau bring you good health, wealth, and happiness. This is interpreted as longevity, prosperity, and power.

Tip #7: Place Wu Luo By Your Bedside

Wu Lou Image

Wu Luo is a powerful health enhancer. It is known as a health gourd and said to contain the nectar of good health. As a Feng Shui cure, it is best to use a brass Wu Luo as the energy of the Metal element effectively exhausts illness Chi (which is of the Earth element). Placing a metal Wu Lou by your bedside will ensure that illness is kept at bay.

Tip #8: Display Sau In The East Corner Of Your Living Room

Sau is the God of Longevity. He is often depicted as an old man with a long forehead and holding a staff with a Wu Luo gourd hanging from it. In his other hand, he holds a peach. The peach is a symbol of immortality.

Display Sau in the East corner of your living room to promote good health and to guard you from premature death, fatal diseases and tragic accidents.

The Bottom Line

Chinese tradition has always been a big advocate of the belief that “Health is Wealth”. For the Chinese, longevity is one of three significant aspirations. Every prayer and every salutation includes the wish for a long life. You cannot enjoy your wealth unless you have good health.

By creating good Feng Shui for health you enhance the longevity and life span of all members of your household. Longevity does not mean only a healthy life but also one that is protected from fatal and life-threatening accidents and mishaps. In Feng Shui, we believe that prevention is better than cure. Then why not to safeguard yourself and your family by applying the above Feng Shui tips?


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Yoga

Bhakti Yoga: 9 Principles To Heart-Centered Life

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Bhakti yoga is one of the main yoga paths that can lead you to full awareness of your true nature. It is the path of devotion that is based on the service to God. The path of Bhakti yoga allows us to use all of our senses, emotions, and actions to express love in our daily interactions and offer it to God. This path involves total dedication and surrender.

In this article, I will introduce you to Bhakti yoga and its 9 principles following which will help you to live a heart-centered life.

What Is Bhakti Yoga?

The Sanskrit word bhakti comes from the root bhaj, which can be translated as “selfless service” or “devotion”. Bhakti yoga is often described as “love for love’s sake” and “union through love and devotion.” This yoga path is the path to self-realization, to having an experience of oneness with everything through reconnection with the Divine forces.

Religion sees the manifestation of love for God through strict submission to his higher powers, because (according to almost any religion) God is wiser and more enlightened than any representative of humanity. In Christianity, the highest spiritual knowledge was possessed by Jesus; in Judaism – by Moses, in Islam – by Muhammad. Bhakti yoga has a different approach: there is no need to be afraid of God because God is the highest intelligence that understands and loves everything and everyone. And anyone can communicate with God through unconditional love, kindness, and gratitude.

Thus, we can say that Bhakti yoga is a spiritual path of divine love mysticism, that focuses on an intimate understanding of oneness and harmony of the eternal individual with the Divine and all creatures, is a constant delight. This is the yoga of a personal relationship with God.

As you tap into universal love, you naturally develop a sense of trust that this benevolent, wise universe provides everything you need. This understanding helps you relax so that you can’t help but generate positive energy for others.

9 Principles Of Bhakti Yoga

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One can attain clear and pure love to God through the nine principles of Bhakti yoga.

Principle #1: Sravana

This is the Sanskrit term for listening to sacred texts, sincere praise to God, poems, or stories about God’s virtues and mighty deeds. This principle cannot be practiced in isolation. The devotee must hear the stories from a wise teacher and seek the companionship of holy people.

Sravana is the first and obligatory principle of devotional service that cannot be circumvented. If one does not listen to the descriptions of God, one cannot clearly understand the other methods of devotional service.

This principle teaches us to turn our spiritual practice into sound. It teaches us listening and understanding of what we hear.

The person who demonstrated how this principle works is Maharaja Pariksit. He listened to Srimad Bhagavatam for seven days and attained transcendental realization through practicing the Sravana principle.

Principle #2: Kirtana

This principle refers to the singing or chanting of God’s praises. This is what Ram Dass said about this principle, “When you are in love with God, the very sound of the Name brings great joy.”

Kirtana is considered the main principle that should be practiced in Kali Yuga. However, it is impossible to practice Kirtana without Sravana, since these two principles are related. We can imagine Sravana as the inhale and Kirtana – as the exhale. Exhaling is impossible without inhaling.

The person who demonstrated how this principle works is Sukadeva Goswami. He recited Srimad Bhagawatam and achieved perfection by practicing the Kirtana principle.

Principle #3: Smarana

This principle refers to remembrance of God at all times, or keeping God in the forefront of your consciousness. In Christian terms, Smarana is what the French monk Brother Lawrence meant by “the practice of the presence of God.”

Smarana is a natural result of the Shravana and Kirtanam principles practice.

Smarana requires regular meditations. Therefore, it is very important to learn proper meditation in order to practice Bhakti yoga principles.

A person who has attained perfection through the Smarana method is Prahlada Maharaja.

Principle #4: Padasevana

Padasevana is gaining the opportunity to serve God, after mastering the previous three principles. This Bhakti yoga principle expresses love toward God through service to others.

Lakshmi Devi was the one who demonstrated how this principle works.

Principle #5: Archana

This Bhakti yoga principle refers to the worship of God through such external images as icons or religious pictures or through internal visualizations. The purpose of Archana is to purify the heart through the love of God.

Worshiping takes place under the guidance of the guru and in accordance with the instructions of the Pancharatra.

Prithu Maharaja was the one who demonstrated how this principle works. By performing austerities Prithu became steadfast in spiritual life, worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead 24 hours a day. In due course of time, Prithu Maharaja was able to fix his mind firmly upon the lotus feet of Krishna. Practicing the mystic yoga system, he raised his soul to the top of his skull.

Principle #6: Vandana

This Bhakti principle refers to prayer and prostration (lying face down on the ground with arms outstretched). Vandana is intended to curb self-absorption and self-centeredness through prayers and worship of God with love and devotion.

Akrura was the one who demonstrated how this principle works.

Principle #7: Dasya

This principle focuses on becoming God’s tool by opening yourself to God. In order to do this, you need to meditate on the words of God, caring for people, and helping to clean or repair sacred buildings or places.

By practicing Dasya, you dedicate your every action to God. Your life becomes a service to God, planet, and humanity.

Hanuman was the one who demonstrated how this principle works. A characteristic feature of his dasya bhava (devotional mood to serve) for the Lord, as mentioned in the Hanuman Chalisa, is his keenness in working for Rama.

Principle #8: Sakha-bhava

This Bhakti principle is the attitude of a friend, looking at the master as your friend, and delight in companionship with God

Sakha-bhava is the discovery of deep and sincere feelings for God, based on a friendly attitude and a transition to a higher spiritual level.

Arjuna was the one who demonstrated how this principle works. Bhagavad Gita and other scriptures praise Arjuna for his close relationship with Krishna. Not only is Arjuna known as Krishna’s friend, but Krishna is known as Arjuna’s friend. In Bhagavad Gita (9.29) Krishna tells Arjuna, “I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.”

Principle #9: Atma-nivedana

This principle focuses on the complete self-offering or self-surrender to God.

Bali Maharaja was the one who demonstrated how this principle works. He did not do anything extraordinary. He simply gave to Krishna whatever he possessed. By giving to God, by serving God, by loving God, nobody is a loser, everyone is a gainer. So therefore we should immerse ourselves in this process.

How To Practice Bhakti In Daily Life?

Devotion Image

If you are a beginner on the path of Bhakti Yoga and don’t know what to start your practice with, try to simply keep your focus on Divine love no matter what you’re doing.

However, you should keep in mind that Divine love is different from human love. Human love tends to be grasping and self-serving, whereas Divine love is selfless and giving.

Start with transforming the relationships in your life by offering whatever you do as service to the Divine Light within them. In this way, you deepen your spiritual connection to your own inner light.

The Bhakti Sutras say that by cultivating and deepening virtues, such as non-harming, truthfulness, purity, compassion, faith, and humility, in our worldly relationships, we refine them and make them more harmonious, so they become a clearer reflection of the Divine.

If this is still too much for you, start with simply treating others the way you would like to be treated. When you see that someone is having a hard day, offer to help, say a prayer, or just listen with an open and compassionate heart.

Put some extra love into your relationships with others. Heal and nurture your spiritual connection with others. If someone has hurt you or upset you, try to see the situation through the eyes of this person and offer your forgiveness silently. Learn how to accept the apologies that you’ve never received and forgive people with an open heart.

Find your own ways to serve your family, friends, and community. Let it be natural and spontaneous. Let all your actions be inspired by love, reverence, and devotion.


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Yoga

8 Essential Types Of Pranayama To Calm Your Mind

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Living in uncertainty in the midst of the worldwide pandemic, most of us experience stress and an increase in anxiety. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. We all are trying to find our ways to cope with this global uncertainty and calm our minds. Yoga and meditation have become more popular than ever. And pranayama, as a mind-calming tool, is increasing its popularity among conscious people. Many people who ever tried pranayama would agree that there’s nothing like indulging in a breathing break to calm the mind and relax the body. In this article, I will share with you 8 essential types of pranayama to calm your mind and decrease your stress level so that you can get back to your daily routine happy and energized and live your life to the fullest despite any challenges you might face!

What Is Pranayama?

Prana‘ is the Sanskrit word for breath, “life force”, or “vital principle”. ‘Ayāma‘ can be translated as “the suspension of breath” or “control”. Thus, “pranayama” can be translated as “control over vital energy”.

Usually, pranayama is associated with breathing exercises that have a beneficial effect on the body, saturating it with oxygen. However, yogis use this technique not only for the purpose of improving their physical bodies but also as a way of controlling the flow of prana (vital energy).

According to Patanjali, pranayama is the length of time between inhalation and exhalation. During this period, the time of assimilation of prana increases, the fluctuations of the mind decrease and the perception expands.

You may ask: “how is it possible to reduce the excitation of the brain by holding the breath?” Well, this is due to the fact that nerve impulses in some parts of the body are suspended, and the structure of brain waves is harmonized. Therefore, pranayama is one of the most important elements of Hatha yoga.

How Does It Work?

Pranayama allows you to lengthen the breath, which increases longevity. Thanks to pranayama, we learn how to properly use our lungs.

The fact is that in everyday life, most often only the top of the lungs is involved, which leads to oxygen starvation and accumulation of stagnant air in the lower part of the lungs. The ability to use the entire volume of the lungs allows us to become less exposed to respiratory diseases, increases the level of vital energy, and makes it easier to cope with stress and anxiety.

Pranayama practice affects our Central nervous system. Breathing affects the hypothalamus, which is responsible for emotional responses and the transformation of perceived reality into the experience. It helps us to reach emotional balance, calm our minds, relax the body, and let go of negative emotions. Pranayama practice allows our bodies to release stress and tensions which helps in bringing down hypertension and achieve a balanced state of mind.

8 Types Of Pranayama For Calming Your Mind

Now let me introduce you to different types of pranayama that you can use for calming your mind and getting rid of stress and anxiety.

#1: Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

Pranayama for Beginners Image

The regular practice of Nadi Shodhana offers an energy boost in the body and releases stress and anxiety. It should be practiced in the morning in the fresh air with an empty stomach.

Instructions:

  1. Sit comfortably on flat ground.
  2. Now close the right nostril with your right thumb and breathe from the left nostril. Then close your left nostril with middle and ring finger and breathe out from the right nostril.
  3. Now closing in the left nostril breathe in deeply with the right nostril and then close the right nostril and breathe out deeply with the left nostril. Do the repetition.

#2: Sheetali Pranayama

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‘Sheeta’ means ‘cooling’, which is exactly the effect of this pranayama. This is one of the most effective types of pranayama for stress, anxiety, and tension relief.

Instructions:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with the back and head erect, hands on the knees in Jnana mudra, and eyes closed.
  2. Make a puckered circle with your mouth then stick out your tongue and curl the edges inwards to form a tube.
  3. Inhale slowly and deeply through the tube as if sucking air through a straw to the count of 4.
  4. Fill up your abdomen and chest to full capacity.
  5. Retain the breath.
  6. Straighten your head and exhale through the nostrils until all air is expelled.
  7. Repeat.

#3: Sheetkari Pranayama

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This pranayama is also known as the hissing breath. Similar to Sheetali pranayama, this pranayama is a cooling breath that does wonders for anxiety and depression. This is one of the most effective types of pranayama for mental tranquility, calming yourself before sleep, and relaxation.

Instructions:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position, lengthen your spine.
  2. Rest palms on your knees.
  3. Close your eyes, turning awareness inward.
  4. Gently hold teeth together and allow teeth to be exposed.
  5. The tongue may remain flat, or folded against the palate.
  6. Inhale slowly through your teeth, allowing the breath to cool.
  7. At the end of the inhalation draw your tongue inside your mouth.
  8. Exhale through your nose.

Repeat the cycle (steps 6-8) for 9 to 15 rounds.

#4: Anuloma Viloma

Anuloma Viloma Pranayama Image

Anuloma Viloma pranayama is one of the most simple types of pranayama for everyday use. This breathing practice increases the resistance to stress, stabilizes the nervous system, improves mood, profoundly calms the mind, increases the clarity of thought, improves the immune system, lowers stress, and anxiety.

Note that Anuloma Viloma should be practiced on an empty stomach!

Instructions:

  1. Sit comfortably with a straight spine.
  2. Rest the left palm on the knee in Jnana Mudra (thumb and index fingers touching) to create a pranic circuit that drives energy toward the brain.
  3. Place the right hand in Vishnu Mudra (by tucking the index and middle fingers into the palm). The thumb, ring, and pinky fingers will be more or less extended.
  4. Close your eyes. Inhale comfortably. Close the right nostril with the right thumb. Exhale slowly and completely through the left nostril.
  5. Now for the first round, inhale slowly and comfortably through the left nostril. Close the left nostril with the ring or pinky finger – and then release the thumb from the right nostril.
  6. Exhale slowly and completely through the right nostril. Now breathe in through the right nostril. Close the right with the thumb, release the ring or pinky finger from the left, and exhale through the left.

This completes one round. Practice 5 to 10 rounds.

#5: Ujjayi Pranayama

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Ujjayi breathing is a breathing technique employed in a variety of Taoist and Yoga practices. It is sometimes called “the ocean breath”. It is due to the fact that the ujjayi breath is meant to mimic the sound of ocean waves. This rhythmic sound can help you focus your mind and link your movements to the sound of your breath.

This pranayama helps to balance and calm your mind and reach the inner peace similar to a day by the ocean brings.

Instructions:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position. Relax your body and close your eyes. Let your mouth drop open slightly. Relax your jaw and your tongue.
  2. Inhale and exhale deeply through your mouth. Feel the air of your inhalations passing through your windpipe.
  3. On your exhalations, slightly contract the back of your throat, as you do when you whisper. Softly whisper the sound, “ahhh,” as you exhale. Imagine your breath fogging up a window.
  4. As you become comfortable with your exhalations, maintain the slight constriction of the throat on your inhalations, as well. You will notice your breath making an “ocean” sound, softly moving in and out, like ocean waves.
  5. When you can comfortably control your throat during the inhalations and exhalations, gently close your mouth and begin breathing only through your nose. Keep the same constriction in your throat as you did when your mouth was open. You will continue to hear the “ocean” sound as you breathe through your nose. Direct the breath to travel over your vocal cords, across the back of your throat. Keep your mouth closed, but your lips soft.
  6. Concentrate on the sound of your breath. Allow it to soothe your mind. It should be audible to you, but not so loud that someone standing several feet away can hear it.
  7. Let your inhalations fill your lungs to their fullest expansion. Completely release the air during your exhalations.

Start by practicing Ujjayi pranayama for 5 minutes while you are seated. For deeper meditation, increase your time to 15 minutes.

#6: Sahita Kumbhaka Breath

breath work image

We’re often so concerned with our inhales and exhales that we completely forget about the space found between. Kumbhaka is the state of pause, or suspension, between the breaths, and helps us find stillness through focused mindfulness. 

Instructions:

  1. Inhale slowly.
  2. Pause and hold for a few moments at the top of the breath.
  3. Exhale slowly.
  4. Hold for a few moments at the bottom of the breath.
  5. Repeat for five minutes, then return to a normal breath.

This pattern of breathing may feel a bit unnatural at first – after all, we’re typically rushed in our busy lives – but in time you will become more mindful of your breathing patterns (and the stillness found within) and will find that your breath naturally becomes more steady, deep, and intentional with practice.

#7: Samavritti Pranayama

Murcha Pranayama Benefits Image

This pranayama is also known as Balancing Breath or Counting Breath.

When the mind is spinning, counting the breath is one of the most effective ways to slow down. The steady rhythm of the count helps to settle the mind’s fluctuations and reestablish balance. This makes Samavritti Pranayama one of the most powerful types of pranayama for calming your mind.

The most common practice is maintaining a one-to-one ratio. For example, inhaling and exhaling to the count of three. It’s natural to begin at a faster pace and gradually slow down as the mind begins to quiet.

Instructions:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Rest your palms on your lap.
  2. Inhale smoothly as you count to three.
  3. Exhale smoothly as you count to three.  
  4. Continue for three to five minutes, or until you feel mentally and physically settled.

You can practice this type of pranayama any time of day or night, whenever you feel overwhelmed or overstimulated. It will help you to enhance calmness, steadiness, and serenity in body and mind.

Variation:

To enhance the relaxation response, lengthen the exhalations. For example, inhale to the count of four, then exhale to the count of six or eight. 

#8: Humming Bee Breath

6 steps to meditating image

This is one of the best types of pranayama for anxiety relief.

This pranayama is named so because of the humming sound produced at the back of the throat during the practice – like the gentle humming of a bee.

The technique of performing Bhramari Pranayama is quite simple and does not require special training. It can be performed at any time of the day and even after having a meal. Also, it has no age restrictions.

Instructions:

  1. Sit in any position that is comfortable for you with a straight back and relaxed shoulders.
  2. Close the lips, keeping the teeth slightly apart.
  3. Bring the tip of your tongue to the space behind the upper front teeth. Maintain this position throughout the practice, frequently checking to ensure that the jaw remains relaxed.
  4. Close each ears with the thumbs, place the index fingers at the midpoint of the forehead – just above the eyebrows – and reach the middle, ring, and pinky fingers across the eyes so that the tips of these fingers press very gently against the bridge of the nose.  
  5. Take a long, deep breath in through the nostrils, bringing the breath all the way into the belly.
  6. Drop the chin to the chest and begin to exhale slowly, making a steady, low-pitched ‘hmmm’ sound at the back of the throat – like the humming of a bee. Focus on making the sound soft, smooth, and steady.
  7. Keep the body completely still and bring your awareness to the center of the head – to your Third eye chakra – letting the sound fill the head and spread to the body.
  8. At the end of the exhalation, slowly straighten your neck as you inhale again through the nostrils to repeat the process.

This is one breathing cycle. Start mastering this pranayama with 7 breathing cycles and gradually increase to 20-30.

The Bottom Line

Uncertainty can be stressful. Therefore, make sure that you doing everything to help yourself to manage stress and anxiety. Even 10 minutes a day spent on pranayama practice can do miracles for your mental health. Use the above types of pranayama to calm your mind and stay balanced. Remember that only a balanced mind can solve any problem and make the right choices!

Stay safe, stay calm!


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