Simple movements can nourish, refresh, enliven, and calm

Nourish and enliven the body, refresh the mind, calm nerves, and have a bit of fun, too. Sounds like something we could all need a bit more of right now. How can we do these things for ourselves?

Here are a few simple activities you can do every day or any day. I am a big fan of transforming the things we already do into opportunities for strengthening, resting, and for building awareness with curiosity. They are also very useful life tools for children to learn now and then to always have at hand.

Morning ABCs with both feet will warm calf muscles, make joints happy, and build strength and grounding balance. I like to do them in bed before I get up, but you can do them any time. Just lie down on your back, sit up on the floor with legs out long, or sit in a chair. Do one ankle at a time. Imagine your toes are paintbrushes, pens, pencils, or any color crayon you like. Softly and slowly write your ABCs with one foot. Make them big and messy. Let your whole leg move. If you are drawing from a chair, just lift your foot a wee bit off the ground, so you have room to write. Then, try the other foot. This can be a challenge for the brain as well!

Why not invite the possibility of ambidexterity into the rest of the day? Each of your hands is accustomed to having its own jobs. When doing simple and completely non-dangerous activities, let them switch roles. Eating, doing non- breakable dishes, bouncing a ball, setting the table are some ideas. Switching sides when sweeping, vacuuming and raking makes them much healthier for the whole body. I like to count ten with one side, then go to the other. Laughter can be a common side effect.

Take Ten Breathing takes less than a minute. When you need to switch gears, take a moment in neutral. Count your next ten breaths, without trying to shift or shape your breath in any way. Look around while you do this, move your eyes, see whatever you see. When we create some time-space to transition between things we do, we clear the decks. We can then bring more choice, presence and effectiveness to our next task. Going from work to home, from time on the computer to playtime, from doing deskwork to having time with a partner or children, or from reading the news to making dinner are all examples.

When your hands are completely washed and clean, the Easy Head Hold can facilitate integration of the day’s experiences, gentle the mind, and soothe the heart and nerves. Simply place one hand over your forehead. Cover the back of your head with your other hand. Close your eyes. That’s it. Rest this way before going to sleep. If you wake in the night, the Easy Head Hold can help you get back to sleep. Try it any time you feel overwhelmed or in need of a hug. A few minutes is good but taking even a few breaths while doing the Easy Head Hold is worthwhile.

Most importantly, remember that the benefits you gain from doing these things for yourself extends to all your relations.

Kristin Borquist is a local, long-time practitioner of healing massage, Thai bodywork, and teaches private or semi-private Tai Chi lessons. She is a student of many movement and meditation modalities and is fascinated by neuroscience, anatomy and physiology.