Yoga is The Juice. Can’t be TipTop without it!
What is the “go to activity” that gets you mentally and physically in the zone?
Next week: how to prepare for parenthood, TipTop style.
This was inspired by a recent Radio 2 interview with none other than Art Garfunkel. In this rare interview, amazingly, even in this day and age, Garfunkel mentioned that he has never owned a mobile phone or computer. As such, he said he feels “untethered”.
He also talked of how much he enjoys walking. So much so, that he’s already walked round every State of America. Plus, he’s currently walking round Europe I believe.
I’m not suggesting we should all be like him and not own phones or computers. I love my i-Phone and besides, where would we be without computers? However, I am keen to promote a return to basics: Fresh Air is The Don at helping us feel good, and a balance has to be healthy. So let’s remember that the next time we are craning our necks or squinting our eyes at a screen, or feeling cabin feverish at our work desks.
And here’s to you, Mr Garfunkel… A reminder to us all to turn off our phones and machines, tread out and kick down some cobble stones, and breathe in the goodness of fresh air: 3 steps to feelin’ groovy.
TipTop urges you to spread this Health Message to CyberWorld!
Next week: more Health and Well-being, according to TipTop
“It’s not a difficult day…just a different day.”
I was lucky enough to learn this phrase from a wise old Tai Chi instructor on a beach. I wish I could remember his name so I could credit him. He was about 85 but had the energy and twinkle of a man 20 years his junior. He’d lived his life calmly, let life’s storms wash over him and dealt with them with grace and without fuss.
This ability to reframe the negative and casually normalise it was all in his mind. I hope to learn to have it in mine one day.
What words help you get past a bad day?
Live slow, die old. It doesn’t sound quite so Rock & Roll as “live fast, die young”, does it? But, don’t know about you, I want to stick around a while. Besides, my life is fast enough now thank you very much, without having to inject it with Turbo-charged activities. I did a lot of that when I was younger and my perspectives have shifted somewhat.
The teaching job I do is fantastic but it is fast-paced and can be as stressful as a pressure cooker if I let things build up. Sound familiar? I need to find ways of trying to keep a lid on it, find an inner pace, and not let my environment dictate.
One of the most influential books I’ve read on this is the fantastic, “In praise of SLOW” by Carl Honoré. I implore you to read it. He had the idea for the book when he woke up to the fact that the world had gone mad, on seeing an advert for “one-minute bedtime stories for children”.
What has the world come to?
Here are the top three things I try to remember to do that help me have a slow day and consequently, a stress-free and productive day. I wish I did them all the time as I do think they work. I’d love to hear how you benefit from slowness and how you go about it. It would be great to share ideas.
I don’t normally write this much, normally focusing on the drawings, but I’m pretty passionate about this one, so I’ve scribbled down more than usual…
Feel Good before breakfast
I try to start the day off doing some kind of exercise that gets me feeling good before breakfast and sets the tone for the day. Apart from optimising performance generally, it somehow calms me and helps set a slower pace.
It’s usually 20 minutes of yoga, 5 minutes of which is simple, slow breathing. Or running as fast as I can to get a sweat up for 20 minutes – which usually almost kills me, but then makes me feel good and helps me avoid stress later in the day.
The mantra or daily motto of “feeling good before breakfast” was inspired by Patricia Ryan Madson’s book, “Improv Wisdom” where she talks of rituals, in her brilliant chapter, entitled, “just show up.” Just by putting ourselves in a place where good things can happen, the rest will follow.
Walk slowly around at work
So many things can seem urgent at work and the “pressing engagement” mindset and expectation to do things straight away can be infectious. One way I try to combat this is by purposefully walking slower than all my colleagues. I don’t care what they might think of this, if they think I’m slow or laid back as I know the work I do when I get back to my desk or classroom is up to snuff.
Punctuate the day with micro-meditations
I find practising this really hard but I know it works. Trying to stay in the moment at key times in the day helps me try to focus on the now, avoid stress, appreciate nature and see the wonder of smallness.
One of the key times for this is drinking cups of tea throughout the day – I mean really drinking those cups of tea: consciously feeling the contours and texture of the bone-china cup between the fingers; noticing the playful shapes of the steam rising from a hot brew; carefully pouring then focusing on the taste and feeling of the swishing liquid in the mouth.
Another favourite of mine is when I get to school in the car, I do three long deep-breath sighs, then slowly focus on turning the ignition off, noticing the chugging of the engine dying down, then slowly open the door. I find I have put the day on pause for a moment. Days I don’t do this, I get out of the car quickly and onto the treadmill.
Other examples of times to do this are focusing on the tastes and smells at lunchtime, or letting the senses appreciate the details of flowers.
There are hundreds of opportunities throughout the day that can be seen as “hooks” on which to hang a simple 20 second or more micro-meditation. Fact is, we usually ain’t got time to look at candles and chill for 20 minutes during a working day, so the more times we punctuate the day with smaller, more manageable meditations, the richer, slower, and more meaningful our days get. I recommend “The 5 minute meditator”, by Eric Harrison as a simple and practical guide.
Often in life it seems you can choose to experience a degree of pain to avoid what might otherwise be even more pain. A painful decision – divorce, for example, which is hell to go through, but in the long term can avoid sustained pain and lead to positive opportunities. Physical exercise – a painful discipline at times that puts your body through the mill, but promotes health and well being in the mix. For some, just moving the body in a simple way is a challenge in itself. People with chronic pain condition can experience this on a daily basis, but also for them, moving the body, although painful, is a good thing. For me, Yoga is one discipline I try to turn to regularly, which can be physically hard on the body and a real challenge but I know is good for me. This drawing is for Chiquitar from silentsongstudios.wordpress.com
How intriguing that this swum to the surface before any other. It’s not that I know Mr Oh would be healthy above anything else but I guess it is because I reckon that we need to be as healthy as possible – in body or mind – before we can feel good about ourselves, get the best from life and and crucially – help others.
Keeping healthy physically or working on maintaining a healthy a state of mind each day improves everything it seems, so it must be pretty important. Each day I practise Yoga for example, the day just seems to go a zillion times better, and the days I shut myself indoors and forget the benefits of fresh air, I catch a dose of cabin fever and go a bit crazy.
When I feel healthy, I give my own inner problems less attention and focus outwardly, notice more and seem more open to helping and giving to others. I came across a metaphor once which got this across for me. It’s used by a parenting course called The Nurturing Programme by Family Links: Imagine you are a jug of water. Whenever you give to others, you pour out some of your water. You keep giving and eventually you are empty and can give no more – unless you keep topping yourself up that is. Nurturing yourself to stay healthy – topping up – gives you what you need to keep giving.
If we cannot help and give to others because we are not healthy enough to do so, that’s a crying shame.