If you’re NOT interested in living a more fulfilling life in which you feel better in general, with more energy while experiencing deep, lasting peace, then raise your hand. I doubt many hands went up. Even at our lowest moments when we are about ready to give up on the concept of things improving in our lives, we still long to taste something sweeter than what we are currently in our daily lives.
Once we muster up the courage to again seek more happiness, it’s difficult to figure out what that magic ingredient is. Is it in a new diet, or wardrobe, a relationship with someone or maybe a change in career or moving to a new place? Well…there is a saying, “wherever you go, there you are”. How many times have we found that to be true?
I would like to look at a few very simple things that anyone can easily add to their lives that individually and collectively will result in desirable change and transformation spiritually, physically and emotionally. These may be familiar practices or possibly unknown to you. What I most value about each one on these daily habits is that they require very little time, but are proven to have profound results. I personally chose activities that I have made a part of my life with beneficial results and would recommend to anyone in a heartbeat.
#1. Try Tongue Scraping
• Both tongue scraping and oil pulling are ancient practices recommended in Ayurvedic Medicine. As foreign as they may sound if this is new to you, they have become as important to me as taking a shower and brushing my teeth. Tongue scrapers are inexpensive and easy to find on line. I think I got mine on Amazon! It’s honestly as simple as it sounds…truly. The health benefit are many, such as:
• Clears toxins & bacteria from the tongue.
• Helps remove coating on the tongue that leads to bad breath.
• Helps eliminate undigested food particles from the tongue.
• Enhances the sense of taste.
• Promotes overall oral & digestive health.
• Gently stimulates the internal organs.
#2 Then Do Oil Pulling
After scraping my tongue first thing in the morning, I do “oil pulling”. If you have not heard of this before you are probably wondering what the heck it is. Simply stated, it is swishing oil in your mouth for 5-15 minutes.
Oil pulling is a traditional Indian remedy that has been used for centuries to maintain good health. The process involves swishing oil around your mouth and is believed to help remove toxins from your body, leaving you healthier and revitalized. All it requires is a bottle of oil and 10-15 minutes of your time. You can start with 5 minutes and build up to 10-15. When you’re done spit the oil in the garbage and swish your mouth with warm water right away for the best results.
Traditionally raw unrefined (preferably organic) sesame oil is used. Organic coconut oil is popular and my personal favorite. Alternating is also an option as they each have a variety of benefits.
If you are trying this for the first time it is sure to feel foreign at first and even 5 minutes may seem like a while, but hang in there, and before long it will become a vital part of your morning routine and something you won’t want to forget because you will feel the difference!
#3 Eat Whole Foods as much as possible
Now that you are doing your daily tongue scraping and oil pulling and getting all the detoxifying benefits from it, this is a good time to make more effort to be selective about what you put in your body. Remember we are going for simple changes that don’t take much time or a whole lot of effort, right? Something anyone can easily do, so rather than feeling the need to go on some extreme diet simply try adding more whole foods to your day….every day!
Next time you go to the store pick up a variety of fresh fruits, vegetable, whole grains and legumes. Each day look for opportunities to replace something you would normally have that is processed with these items. For example, one morning you could prepare oatmeal or a fruit smoothie instead of packaged cereal or bread. On another day pack or grab some fruit and nuts for a snack rather than going for a vending machine or the pastry that often calls your name from the bakery down the road. On the next day, making a homemade soup or having fun with new ingredients for a salad just may prove to be a fun adventure in the kitchen.
Allow for a new found sense of creativity to reshape your attitude toward the foods you prepare and eat. All it takes is going to the store with your eye out for whole vegetarian foods and choose a variety of colors, flavors, and textures. Then simply look for opportunities to add more of these wholesome, nutritious foods into your day. Not only will your trips to the store become enjoyable, but the meals and snacks you choose all are sure to be increasingly satisfying. Most importantly you will feel vibrant and energetic!
#4 Take Time for Meditation Daily
So far I have given three simple recommendations on how to improve the health and vitality of the body. It is very important to take good care of the body which serves as our vehicle and can also be seen as a temple. That is why we take the time to detoxify the body and feed it well, in the same way we get oil changes and tune up for our cars. Just as we need to feed the body, we also need “soul food”. Meditation is like food or nectar for us, the spirit soul that temporarily resides in the body.
In the same same way that we would not think it wise to deprive the body of vital nutrients, it is also not a good idea to withhold food from the soul. It is compared to taking care to polish the bird cage every day but not feeding the bird inside.
Mantra meditation is food for the soul and when practiced consistently will allow us to feel “alive” in the truest sense of the word. This practice will gently awaken us from the foggy dreamlike state we are in and give us a taste for the nectar (spiritual happiness) for which we are always anxious.
You can sit or stand comfortably and begin to breath deeply in and out of the nose. Take one big breath in and sigh it out the mouth relaxing the neck and shoulders. Then return to a rhythmic breath. The mantra or sacred sound we will focus on is Gauranga. Say each syllable out loud…Gaur-Ra-Ang-Ga. Now as you inhale say the mantra silently and as you exhale say it audibly the length of your exhalation. Close your eyes and breath deeply and slowly while doing your Gauranga breathing. Try doing it for at least 10 breaths, longer if you like. When you’re done, take a few breaths in which you repeat the mantra silently on the inhale and exhale, rest in the transcendental sound vibration and rest in the peace you are experiencing.
Gauranga breathing is a very quick and simple way to add meditation to your day. Start each morning with it and then sprinkle it in throughout your day as often as you can. Before bed is another great time to do it. I have a habit of doing this meditation at stop lights in my car, with my eyes open of course!
#5 Practice Conscious Breathing in General
Doing Gauranga breathing in the morning will set the tone for your day. Still we are sure to run into some bumps in the road, big or small, as our day goes on. Something you might not be aware of is how your breathing effects the way we perceive and respond to stressors in our life.
The reality is that most of us have developed the habit of shallow chest breathing. You may wonder what is wrong with that? No big deal…I am still alive and am not turning blue, right?! Science has proven that this chest breathing is slightly agitating to the nervous system thus producing a low level of agitation in our bodies constantly. Add a stressor to that and we sometimes come close to barely breathing at all. If you think that does not sound good, you’re right!
Returning to a proper full conscious breath takes little effort and has countless benefits. One of them being it has a calming effect on the nervous system, which allows up to better cope with stress.
All you have to do is take a moment and begin to breath more deeply, moving toward a full inhale and complete exhale in and out of the nose. Now bring your awareness to your abdomen and allow the breath to expand there like you are blowing up a balloon in your belly. When you exhale, it will feel like the balloon is deflating. Congratulations, you have just successfully shifted the breath and are effectively soothing your nervous system! It should not take long to feel calmer within yourself. To do a complete yoga breath, allow the breath to continue to expand upward underneath the ribs and then float into the chest. The key is that the breath first fills the belly and then expands upward. Otherwise, it is still considered shallow chest breathing.
I would like to recommend that you stop at least three times a day do that balloon belly breathing. Then allow it to rise and expand through the torso. You can do it before and along with your Gauranga breathing in the morning. If you are experiencing stress or tension throughout your day, dive into this conscious breath and soothe the nervous system. This is also a great time to add a few Gauranga breaths and experience that peaceful condition. It can be done silently or repeat out loud so there is no time it can’t be done. So this repeating names like these is an amazing tool to relieve stress! You will notice a positive change in how you respond to stress.
Let your breath be a source of healing and nurturing. It simply takes a bit of practice each day, and before you know it you will be breathing more fully without even thinking about it! It simply becomes a habit.
Starting the day with tongue scraping, oil pulling and Gauranga breathing are all things that are now a part of my morning routine. They take a little time and render unimaginable benefits on many levels. For this reason, I am recommending you give them a try and see for yourself!
Now that we have set the tone for the day let’s continue to care for our body’s with nourishing whole foods and continue to feel our best! Remember to look for opportunities to make at least one better food choice per day. Keep it doable! Conscious breathing will also nurture our body and minds as we face whatever the day may bring. Gauranga breathing is a tool always to keep handy!
We don’t necessarily need to make any big lifestyle changes to live better lives. These daily practices will become habits that bring a renewed sense of vitality, peacefulness, and joy. All we need to do is take a couple of minutes to add them to our lives! What a great deal that is! I always like to say, “the proof is in the pudding.”