Okay, time to share a few more of my tried-and-true tools:
This tool came to me a couple of years ago when I took Dana Gerhardt's Twelve Moons Workshop. What a treat to spend a full year paying attention to how the moon was moving through my days, weeks and months. It tuned me into the cycles and seasons. I have to admit that I don't always pay that level of attention anymore. But when I find myself feeling out of sorts, it is helpful for me to take note of what phase the moon is in and what sign it is traveling through. Sometimes that is enough. Other times it is helpful to me to set intentions for the waxing and waning periods, based upon what I want to receive and release in my life. Good stuff.
Lunch with a Friend:
I know it may seem silly to consider this a tool, but that is exactly what it is ... healing balm for my soul. Life is busy for us all and it is so easy to lose track of our friends for weeks or even months at a time. I try to schedule lunch or tea with one friend once a week. The time together may be brief, but always meaningful and replenishing.
This tool is similar to reflexology, except I get to do the work. I keep a tin of Burt's Bees Hand Salve on my nightstand. Right before going to bed, I try to spend some time massaging it into into my poor, tired feet ... paying particular attention to those places that are tender and tight. A couple of minutes per foot is all that it takes. (Don't forget to tug the toes!) Then I slip on a pair of cotton socks so as not to funkify the sheets. I always sleep better for having invested this time.
Breath of Fire energizes me. Alternate Nostril Breathing calms me down and balances me out. Pranayama is the kind of tool that can be whipped out at a moment's notice when I need to press reset. It has never failed to profoundly shift the way that I feel.
My dear yoga teacher, Julie Lusk, is a guided imagery expert and I have the good fortune to have her wonderful guided imagery CDs to listen to after a bumpy day. Yoga Nidra is amazing, but sometimes I like to go on a vacation in my imagination too. I always return refreshed.
This tool could be a post in and of itself. I have logged many a retreat over the years. Even the briefest of them has been restorative, if not transformative. As with classes and workshops mentioned in Part I, I like to schedule a retreat for myself when I start feeling bored or depleted. Maybe I will go with a friend. Maybe not. Some of the best retreats have been one day home alone, so don't assume that you have to go away to benefit. Just set the intention that you are on retreat, decide what you will and won't do during that period, and then see what unfolds. Jennifer Louden's The Woman's Retreat Book is a wonderful resource.
I have tried sitting in meditation with a couple of different mantras that resonate with me. There is genuine power to this. But my favorite way to work with mantras is to enjoy them set to music. Anything by Deva Premal lifts my spirits. I end up singing along whether I intend to or not. I have other favorites, like Chanting the Chakras, which can snap me out of a slump, pronto.
Advisory Committee Meeting:
Okay, this one requires a trip out on the limb, but it has helped me so much in the past when I have grappled with a big problem. In meditation, I visit a large, comfy seating area where I meet with people who I admire and whose advise I would hold in esteem. Maybe I know them in real life, but in most instances I don't. I bring the problem before the Committee, devulging all of the gorey details, and then I wait for each Committee member to give me their feedback. Yes, maybe this tool is a bit woo-woo, but give it a try. You may just come away with a potential solution that you wouldn't let in any other way.
Ah, another tool that deserves to be a post on its own. I went to feng shui school in 2005 as a 40th birthday present to myself. It has proven to be an incredible tool. I am always aware of the energy of my surroundings and how important it is to keep things clean and clutter free. (Although I must admit that I'm not always so good at keeping them that way.) I also know what enhancements might help to support my intentions. You don't have to go to school yourself to benefit from this tool. There are many wonderful books on the market. And, as a matter of fact, I am working on an e-course to help walk you through the process, so stay tuned.
I have a Canon G9 and a Lomo LC-A camera. Sometimes I long for a big camera like the cool kids use, but I know that these two little guys provide all of the photography fun that I need. A day spent snapping away works the same magic on me as a vacation or retreat. The perfect weekend pick-me-up. Although I love the instant gratification of digital, there is something special about working with film. You just don't know what you will get until you get it. Most rolls from my lomo develop about 15 duds, six that are so-so, and three photos that knock my socks off. Those three make it so worth it.
That's all of the tools for today. More to come!