The state of FLOW: that feeling when you can drop your mind into a single point of focus, softening to stillness. Wholeheartedly enjoying the sweetness of the present moment. Fully engaged in a practice that you love: BLISS.
Did you know that people who experience flow on a regular basis have lower levels of depression and anxiety? In honor of Mental Health Month, we've been exploring the idea that the state of flow can function as a healing modality for the spectrum of experience that falls under the umbrella of mental health challenges. Relaxing and humbling the mind, arriving mindfully in the here and now.
We can enjoy these moments of dipping into flow at work, during Yoga practice, through art, music or a great read - or when creating something new: allowing a tangle of synapses to smooth into a channel for pure presence and single-minded focus.
We've particularly observed the centering effect of dipping into flow – or simply a state of mindfulness –during retreat weeks. When the focus of every day becomes deceleration, moving the body and setting intention, energies that can lead to inner transformation are powerfully channeled, creating fertile ground for self-growth.
Creating this safe space for unfurling is something that we feel a well-facilitated retreat is uniquely able to gift to its participants. The feeling of arriving in a place where the space is held for you to connect to self-love, to rediscover the sacred bond between you and yourself, to drop into silence, declutter the mind and clear the emotional body – that's a kind of magic that a week of dedicated retreating offers.
However, many of us can't afford to attend retreats regularly and so we've given some thought to how we may integrate the essence of a week away from it all into our daily lives. Here are a few ideas:
Daily digital detox
Digital detox retreats are growing in popularity, signaling the increasing need to take a break from screens and from the constant stimulus-flooding that social media brings with it. So, try simply starting your day off-line. Instead of getting up and turning on, tuning in – leave the phone off for at least an hour and spend that time doing something that quiets and centers your mind. Read a chapter from a book you love while you sip your morning tea or coffee. Meditate. Practice Yoga. Jorunal daily. Go for a short walk and bathe in Nature. It's so worth it and will set a totally new tone for your day.
Sounds simple, perhaps – but challenging to put into practice in our often over-crowded and busy, humming lives. Observe your tendency to over-commit and to jam-pack your days (if this is the case!). Allow yourself to say no to non-essential appointments and commitments. Do less. And do the things that remain at a slower pace – taking time to breathe, to be present in your actions and interactions. When you walk, don't run. Walk mindfully, feeling the soles of your feet on the earth. Take breaks often. Savor your food. Relax your mind. S L O W down.
Rituals around bedtime are so important for infants and small children – and we believe that adults need more mindfulness around sleep as well. Try creating your own pre-bed ritual. This might include turning phones and screens off again an hour before bed to begin quieting the mind. Perhaps enjoying a delicious warm drink like a golden milk, some restorative Yoga poses, a gratitude meditation to reflect on the day or some journaling to empty the brain. Keeping a regular sleep schedule, studies show, also brings balance to the mental and emotional bodies, so try to stick to a semi-regular bed-time.
As always, approach all shifts in your lifestyle from a place of patience and benevolence rather than self-optimization. Love yourself enough to treat yourself accordingly.