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My Go-to Mudra During Sleepless Nights


Lately I've been encountering a very familiar, but not so welcome friend - nighttime anxiety.


Some of this I blame on a nearly 7 month old that has decided that mom is the coolest, and bestest as settling her down at bedtime (and no one else will do!)


A lot of this I know is my own learned habit of worrying. I do my best not to be so harsh with myself.


When I find myself tossing and turning at night, there's an unfriendly voice in my head that says, "Julia, you teach yoga and meditation. You go to therapy. You have a roof over your head and food in your fridge, your kid is healthy. Who in the H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks do you think you are being worried? Any what kind of wife/mom/professional will you be tomorrow if you don't calm the F down and get some sleep?"


There's also a kinder voice that says, "Of course you're worried! There's been a lot going on. The past few years have been really hard, and relief has been hard to find. And also, you're really tired, and you have an amazing little baby that needs you. Of course you're worried, my love. But that's ok. Anxiety happens. Let's try some together, ok."


And when I hear my kinder voice speaking to me, I tap into my tools.


Lately, I have found myself taking my own hand, linking thumbs, and creating Garuda Mudra across my chest.


This mudra is named for Garuda a mythical creature from Eastern traditions. He symbolizes strength, courage, and freedom. Strong wings. Eagle-eyed focus. Devoted guardian of the Lord Vishnu.


When I take this mudra I consider safe-guarding my own heart, protecting my values, and embodying courage. I take the mudra, breath deeply until I feel my chest completely fill up into my own hands, and then exhale.


I know what's important to me. I have the freedom to make choices that support my highest good. I have the wisdom and courage to protect what is important and step forward with confidence. There might be a lot that is happening that I cannot control, but I also have my breath, my practices, my resources, my family, my past experiences that offer wisdom.


Like the Eagle, I'm not going to let myself fall ... unless its falling asleep.


If you want to practice Garuda Mudra, try this:

Find a comfortable seat.

Link your thumbs in front of your heart.

Fan your fingers and press your palms into your chest.

Then, close your eyes.

Practice deep diaphragmatic breath.

With every breath fill your belly, ribs, and chest fully with breath.

Pay attention to the pressure of your chest rising into your hands.

Hold the fullness of your breath for a moment.

Then slowly exhale.

Repeat this breath 10 times.

Try the mantra: "I am hold my heart safe and sound."


 

A note about anxiety and finding help.

Anxiety happens to everyone from time to time, but if you feel like you could use support please know that there are professionals and no one needs to suffer alone. In addition to my yoga, running & meditation practices I also see a therapist, and make it a point to tell trusted loved ones how I'm feeling when I need extra support. That combination of tools really helps me.


Remember, there is no shame in seeking professional support if you feel like anxiety, depression, or distressing thoughts or feelings are interrupting with your wellbeing.


For more information and resources near you visit https://www.nami.org/support-education/nami-helpline/


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Thank you. When you said “A lot of this I know is my own learned habit of worrying. I do my best not to be so harsh with myself.” I copied it to talk to my own therapist about. What a statement. I’m going to print it to see it every day. I have learned a lot of worry in my life.

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Dear Julia, This post is exactly what I needed to read this morning. I am going through a major life upheaval and my heart just hurts. Remembering to breathe and be thankful is all that is seeing me through. Thank you.

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