365 ways to energize – a daily companion to living with health, purpose, and joy

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Dead or alive

Day 135“When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourselves in the world.” Echart Tolle

Today I had the most extraordinary experience while I sat in my garden fully concentrated on writing some reflections about the beautiful book I just finished; “I skymningen sjunger koltrasten,” – in English called ”The blackbird sings at dusk” by Linda Olsson. I heard a huge noise in the bushes and trees behind me. I quickly turned around, and out of the sea of leaves bounced my cat with a helpless little bird in its mouth.

I ran to see if I could save the poor bird. The cat let go of the bird when I insisted, and I gently laid the little bird in my hand. The small chest heaved up and down, and its little eyes looked at me and blinked again and again – and its stare almost looked human like.

Deep red blood seeped onto my hand. I had never studied a living bird up so close before. I felt so much for the poor bird, and with a desire to help and without knowing what else to do to, I stroked it gently while removing the few feathers that was ripped off. I felt the warmth of this creature in my hand. (This is the second time I see my cat having caught a bird in its almost 11 year lifetime. Thank God it is not a habit of our cat.).

After some time I decided to bring the bird into the house to show my daughter, but as soon as I approached the entrance of the house, the bird started to flap its wings and all of a sudden it showed so much life and seemed to have all this strengths. It first gave me hope that it might live. So I laid it down on a leaf hoping it would recover on its own. But when I went to check on it after some minutes I found it dead.

Day 135b

The blackbird is a symbol for magnificence and life in the very touching and inspiring book by Linda Olsson. She beautifully illustrates the hopelessness people can feel when they are different, rejected or alone. The common interest in literature between three neighbors – who are the main characters of the book – and the respectful, patient, warm and caring attitude they show for each other – help to turn all their lives around, as they develop deep relationships, and achieve a sense of purpose, love and joy.

This profound book spoke to me deeply because of the realism of the characters and how much people can help and give to each other by being interested, caring, supportive and generous. One part of the red thread throughout the book is the importance of living with a sense of purpose in order to feel fully alive.

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Breathe life!

Day 88In search for inner peace

Breath is life. We all know that. But how much knowledge do we have about the quality of our breathing and the impact it has on our sense of energy, inner peace and wellbeing?

In the past two days I have shared two techniques; the relaxation response and visualization, which help our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) to counter stress. Today I will share the power of breathing and the way it impacts our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

Our breath has numerous functions. For example to allow oxygen to energize our body and remove toxins as we breathe out carbon dioxide. If our breath is shallow, our lungs cannot do their job and as a result will lack oxygen and we do not eliminate sufficiently toxins and waste products from the body.

Most of us do not pay much attention to our breath – as it works on automatic. Even though our breath operates without us actively having to control it, we still have a huge opportunity to influence the quality of our breathing.

Our breath is regulated by our autonomic nervous system (ANS) – which has two main divisions, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) that regulates our fight-and-flight response, and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) that operate to help our body to rest and digest.

A baby naturally breathes diaphragmatic, meaning into the belly. When we breathe correctly, our lungs inflate to the extent that the diaphragm expand and pushes down into our stomach. This has many positive functions, one of them is to stimulates the Vagus nerve, which runs inside our abdomen, and that contributes greatly to activate the PNS.

When we feel tense, afraid, anxious, angry or stressed, our breathing changes to meet the ‘perceived’ challenges of life. We often tighten our stomach muscles and allow for only thoracic breathing – meaning only in the chest. This shortened breath activates our SNS and prepares us to fight or flight. After years of living with an activated SNS, we loose our ability to relax, due to that we no longer naturally breathe diaphragmatically. Nervousness, anxiety, inner stress, worry, high blood pressure, digestive problems, cardiovascular disease, fatigue etc. caused by inadequate breathing.

We can heal our body and mind by returning back to breathing properly. First by becoming aware of how we breathe and then learn to control and deepen the breath when we need it. By learning some simple exercises, we can aid and support the PNS. There are various forms of yoga and meditation that focuses on breathing that can be very helpful in re-learning how to breathe properly.

I will later share with you some of the breathing exercises that I engage in and that has helped me to feel at peace.

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How do you re-charge?

Day 73In order to feel and be our best is important to stop in our tracks and re-charge regularly..

Many people try to re-charge artificially by drinking caffeine, alcohol or by eating sweets. But that only gives short-term energy. If we are tired, what our body and mind need is relaxation and an opportunity to re-charge from within.

There are numerous ways to re-charge; for example by writing a journal, spending time with friends, or by oneself, taking long showers or baths, lying on the sofa, sitting on a balcony or terrace reading in the sun, spending time overlooking the ocean, hiking in a forest or in the mountains, looking into the fire in a fire-place or a candle, dancing, singing, meditation, yoga, artwork, breath-work, etc. How we best nurture ourselves is unique for each one of us.

Personally, what nurtures and energises me the most is to carve out time and let go of my to-do -list and invest time alone. I quickly find inner peace when I journal and meditate, as well as when I spend time in nature. There is also something magical for me around a fire. I find it very calming to have candles around me and in sitting in front of a fireplace.

And when I give myself the luxurious gift of just being here and now without reflecting on the past or thinking about the future I ground myself and energise from within.

In the afternoon, if I am tired I meditate sitting for 20 minutes. If I am very tired, due to for example a poor night’s sleep, I lie down on a yoga mat and relax for 20 minutes. These 20 minutes of relaxation gives me quickly a large amount of energy, and enough to make me feel energised, positive and alive for the rest of the evening.

Take time to re-charge. It’ll light your inner energy and fire!