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Keeping Your Cool

Gentle Orientation: We’ve gotten through the holidays hopefully unscathed, tending our emotional wounds or over-indulgences. Tempers may have flared even amidst the joyful noise and revelry of bringing in the new year.

In other news: A surgeon told my hiking buddy that she ‘wrecked everything’ in her knee when she slipped on her slick deck as her dog, Jenny, barreled past her to scare off a squirrel. Jenny is unaware of the damage she caused, is unrepentant, but brings hiking buddy cold compresses for the injury.

This all got me thinking.

When we have a physical injury and our body is inflamed, we cool it down to help speed healing, reduce swelling and increase movement. It would seem if we have a mental, spiritual, or emotional inflammation or injury, a cooling treatment could help the stiffness and swelling of these states of being. 

So, how can we do that?

If/when you’re feeling ‘hot around the collar’, upset, unnerved, or irritated and angry, try any of these mindfulness practices:

FIRST: Take a moment to acknowledge what you’re observing in the way of thoughts, feeling and sensations. Allow them to just BE so that you can address them intentionally and skillfully.

  1. In the morning, stand outside and take 3 deep breathes of cool air.  Fill your belly, cool your gut. Pay attention to the sensations. Repeat as needed.
  2. While outside in the January air, practice the 4×4 tactical breathing technique, counting to 4 on the breath in, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, hold there for 4.  2 cycles.
  3. Place a cool compress over your eyes, bend over and hold your breath for a few seconds, then gently sit up and take some easy relaxed breaths with the compress in place. A cold compress over the eyes, particularly laying around the nose will cool the trigeminal nerve that connects to your parasympathetic nervous system (the part of your Vagus nerve system and the rest and digest part of your nerve response). Relax.
  4. Pour yourself a cool beverage. Sip it slowly and mindfully. Notice how your mouth, throat and stomach cool down. Savor that.
  5. Take a walk in the woods.  This is a great time of year because natures growth is very fragrant from the rain. Breath in deeply the nourishing air as you move your body forward. Notice the cool air on your skin.

Don’t avoid the cool air of this season. Use it. Allow it to support you.

To view last week’s Mindful Monday, click here.

Lisa Wellington

Lisa Wellington is a Certified Mindfulness Teacher who writes about integrative practices that downshift stress, increase insight, and jumpstart joy.

She is best known for her work with law enforcement professionals as well as those challenged by housing instability and addiction. Trained in the Fine Arts at Washington State University, she specializes in group training that engages participants’ inherent creativity.

If she is not under a stack of books about psychology and spirituality, she can be found at a Puget Sound beach or nearby trail, always searching for the absurd, which is her superpower. 

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