This week we continue to hear from our guest poster, the Movement Monk. We cover 4 ways to experience embodied wellness and truly connect to our inner energy. If you missed last week’s start to this two-part series, there’s a link at the bottom of this post.
4 ways to experience embodied wellness
1. Reconnect with Nature
Some offices can seem a bit ‘homogeneous’: unvaried, flat and box like, grey or muted colors, and not a lot of inspiration. It can limit your creativity, the way your body can move, and even your health.
The human body loves varied environments. You can connect your mind to your body and ground your body back to the earth simply by going outside and taking a walk. But this type of walk might not be what your used to. I’m not asking you to exercise, I’m asking you to connect.
- Take off your shoes
- Feel the grass on your feet
- Breathe the fresh air
- Hang from a tree branch
Do this as much as you can during your day and you’ll come back to the office energized, and ready to be more productive.
2. Practice Qigong
To put it simply, Qi (very loosely) translates to energy and Gong or Kung translates to work. When you keep your body stationary for prolonged periods at work, it can reduce your blood flow and block energy flowing around all your major organs (like it’s naturally meant to).
Practicing Qigong during your work day is a powerful way to re-kindle the flow of blood and energy in your body. It’s also very helpful to calm your busy mind if you’ve been thinking a lot. There are many complexities to Qigong, and to best learn it I recommend an experienced teacher, however you can start today simply by focusing on breathing and moving as one.
Here’s a video to get you started …
3. Use Your Hands
Typical offices aren’t renowned as the most physically engaging places on earth, so it’s not surprising how easy it is for the body to fall into a sedentary lifestyle. Well you can stop it dead in it’s tracks with this tip.
All you’ve got to do is use your hands — to support your body, that is. This stimulates all the muscles that connect to your hands from your arms to your torso. Want core strenght? You’ll get it in droves with regular crawling and hanging practice. You can do this a couple of ways.
- Crawl on the ground. It’s good for babies and it’s still good for adults. Make it even cooler by recruiting your fellow work colleagues and starting a crawling flash mob through your work area.
- Hang off of things. (Just make sure they’re stable first!) Go outside once again (noticing a trend?) and hang from a tree branch, then take some deep breaths. Or you can even set up some gymnastic rings, or a door mounted chin up bar, if you can negotiate that in your office space.
4. Align Your Spine
Gravity can take its toll on your body if you let it. Especially if your spinal vertebrae are aligned upon one another, like ducks in a row.
While you’re sitting, standing, or walking each day at work (anywhere for that matter), imagine your head is being lifted gently towards the sky, while your hips are being gently anchored towards the ground. This is what I call the ‘double lengthening effect’ and it helps to create space in your spine.
And as the old Chinese saying goes, “you’re only as young as your spine.”
Bonus Tip # 1: Bring your attention inward
When things get stressful at work, looking to your external environment for solutions can often lead to more stress. While stress (when used with intention), can be helpful, too much can wreak havoc on your body and mind. To offset the stress on the outside, you can practice looking inside. Bring your focus back to your breathing and focus your thoughts into your lower abdomen. This area according to traditional Chinese medicine is called the lower dan-tien and they say it is the source of all human power.
Having practiced techniques like this for many years, I can personally share that what they’re saying is true. Putting my focus here has led to a clearer mind, leading to better focus and productivity while I work. With practice it can do the same for you too.
Bonus Tip # 2: Stretch, stretch, stretch
Doing the same things day in day out at work can lead your body and mind to becoming stagnant and comfortable with in the status quo. This doesn’t necessarily mean quit your job and move to Mexico. It means that it’s important to deliberately find ways to stretch — mentally, emotionally, and physically — to push yourself out of your comfort zone intentionally and manufacture ways to learn and grow.
Look for small opportunities to stretch your body and your mind during your work day. Move beyond what is comfortable, and get familiar with areas that are limiting you both physically and mentally.
Pretty soon you’ll have stretched into new territory and will have grown not only in the way you can move your body and use your mind, but as a person.
I call this Embodied Flexibility … The ability to adapt readily to an ever changing modern world.
If you missed the first part of this series, “Three Tips to Finding Wellbeing at Work,” please check it out!