As the Aquarian Age begins to reveal a significantly different texture and tone to environmental, sociocultural, and interpersonal dynamics, there is a heightened need to adjust to these changes. With the effort to understand and adapt comes the potential for sudden and sustained stress. The build-up of pressure inside and out requires a release valve; unchecked, stress can affect the nervous system, glandular system, and the body’s major organs.
Following are five ways to address the effects of accumulated stress. When practiced regularly, these tips and techniques may help to prevent future physiological and psychological imbalances.
1) Shake it Up: The physical act of shaking not only helps with circulation and muscle tension, it triggers the reset of an overtaxed nervous system. It really is as simple as that: Stand, lie, or sit (or explore all levels), and begin to shake and fidget as rapidly as you can. Shake as if you have ants in your pants, confetti in your hair, or sand in your shoes: Try to do this for at least 1-3 minutes. If it helps, turn on some music, and call it free-form dance—just shake away.
2) Tap to Tonify: To succinctly address the consequences of rampant change and uncertainty, turn to the meridian system of Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM. In TCM, the full gamut of natural phenomena is organized into five categories, i.e., the Five Element Theory: seasons, emotions, colors, physical organ systems, etc., are associated with one of five elements. The elements—Metal, Earth, Fire, Water, and Wood—each represent two (and in one case, four) meridians. A meridian is an ethereal, pranic channel that carries energy along a specific pathway in the body. Those pathways intersect specific organs; subsequently, if a meridian is blocked by physical or mental toxicity, the associated organ system becomes imbalanced, i.e., over- or under-active.
A super-simple way to ensure the flow of prana, or energy, throughout the entire meridian system is to wake it up with your hands: with fingertips, light fists, or cupped hands, move along the pathways as indicated:
- Metal (Lung, Large Intestine meridians: for the doldrums): Starting at the shoulder joint, tap down the inside of the arm, and up the outside; do this a few times. Then tap or knock specifically all around the elbow and wrist joints of each hand.
- Earth (Stomach, Spleen: for overthinking, worry): Lightly tap just beneath your eyes, on the center of the cheekbones. Then, with open palms, slap lightly down the front of your torso, all the way down the front of your legs, ending with a pinch and pull of your second toes. Then work your way back up, slapping the inside of your legs, all the way up to your low ribs. Lay your palms on your ribs and breathe slowly and deeply for a few seconds.
- Fire (Heart, Small Intestine; Pericardium, Triple Burner: for anxiety): Again, tap down and up the inside and outside of your arms. Then tap the outer tip of each eyebrow. Finally, use the thumb of the opposite hand to make tiny, almost imperceptible counterclockwise circles in the center of your palm, between the 3rd and 4th fingers. This is an accupressure point to calm the heart.
- Water (Kidney, Bladder: for fear, insecurity): As water flows, so does this awakening routine. Inhale as you float your hands out to the side and overhead; exhale as your bring your hands behind your neck and downward along your back and back of the legs. Bend your knees if necessary, but hang once you are in the forward bend. Breathe deeply. Then inhale as you begin stroking your hands up along the inside of the leg, up the front of the body, and come to rest with your index fingertips on the two knobs at the center of your collarbone. Repeat the sequence 2 more times.
- Wood (Liver, Gallbladder: for anger, irritability): Starting on your scalp, above each ear, use your fingertips to massage in small circles: First forward toward your eyes, then up to the crown of the head, then back up and over, ending at the base of the skull. Begin tapping out along the base of the skull, down the back of the neck, and over and in front of the shoulder joint. Next, cup your hands and pat the armpits and down along the rib cage. Continue tapping, knocking, or brushing down the outside of each leg, ending with a swift brush-off out beyond your toes. Take a full breath in and out, and then begin tapping upward from the inner heel, along the inner leg and thigh, past the groin, and end with both hands resting on the rib cage.
3) Circle of Life: Guide your body through a series of circular and spiral movements; this helps to circulate the air around you, i.e., the magnetic field. This energy field does double duty: When functioning well, it protects you from negativity. It also attracts positive energy when you have created a health mental and physical environment in which it can circulate.
Quick hits: Stand with feet about hip width apart. With hands on hips, move the hips in large circles, clockwise, then counterclockwise. Start with 3 in each direction, building up to 8. Then do large torso (or waist) circles, to the right and left, 3-8 times.Next, with arms extended out to the sides at shoulder level, twist left and right, like a helicopter. Feel free to lift the opposite heel as you twist, so that you do not harm your knee or low back. When finished, stand and breathe deeply with your hands on your hips or low belly.
Once the energy has settled, bring your hands in front of your chest, as if holding a ball. Keep the palms facing each other, 6-10 inches apart, as you begin to move your hands in a wide, horizontal Figure 8 in front of you. Do this 8 times.
Finally, move into a full body swing: Inhale as arms float above your head, and then exhale as you swing them down to your sides and behind. As you exhale and swing down, let your knees bend and your chin come toward your chest. As you inhale up, straighten your legs and look upward. Practice this rhythmic swing 3-6 times, with powerful breath, aiming for a total of 11 swings.
4) Wash it Off: While so many of us jump in the shower without a thought, this routine activity can become a conscious healing ritual. Whether you prefer to let the water rain down over you, or to submerge yourself in the tub, stay aware of the purifying power of the element moving around you: Weave your thoughts into the sound and feel of the water; connect yourself to the soothing and rejuvenating potential therein.
When I shower, I like to dry brush beforehand, or to have a scrub in the shower (wet brush, loofah, or exfoliator). In the case of an actual bath, epsom salts with a few drops of a thoughtfully selected essential oil or two is a potent antidote to stress: lavender, chamomile, lemongrass, and eucalyptus are excellent choices to calm and cleanse the body and mind.
A special note: To enhance your cleansing ritual, try washing along any or all of the meridians, as outlined in the Tapping practice.
5) Find Your Touchstone: Crystals, baby. Or any talisman or mantra—any thing or thought—that you bring close to your heart and mind, so that its presence triggers the flow of calmness. With regard to choosing a crystal, it is ideal if you can make your selection in person. If, however, there is no shop nearby, an online purchase is a fine place to start. My go-to choice for an online purveyor is http://www.crystal-life.com. The stones are high-quality, yet eminently affordable, and there is a bounty of information about the stones’ characteristics and therapeutic abilities.
If you can select a stone in person, take a moment to hold the stone. You may be attracted visually by color or shape, but when you hold the crystal, there may be no resonance. How do you know if the stone is meant for you? You will feel significant warmth emanate from the stone into your skin. It may happen quickly and be almost hot: That is the stone you need.
Once you have your crystal, how you work with it is an intuitive endeavor. I have a shrine around which my stones are situated; I feel the pull to move them every so often. I also sleep with 1-3 stones under my pillow: Again, these change as different needs arise.
May you find relief (and fun) in these suggestions. ‘Til next time…