Five Ways to Fill Your Well

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One of the things that has been turning over in my head recently harks back to a recent post, where I wondered how it was that my personal practice could be tweaked so that I could avoid burnout and illness during and after a busy period. On a walking talk with my mother the other day, she suggested that now I am in my 40s, my daily routine may need to be tweaked to reflect my changing life. After all, she said, your 40s are a time of hard work out in the world, and these busy times are likely to become the norm. Your practice needs to incorporate filling your well so that you can embrace this time, a time that you have been preparing for over the last decade and longer, without burning out, getting sick or both.

Aha! The missing piece of understanding clicked into place. My personal yoga practice had been centered around increasing strength and flexibility, focusing on the ability to be present in discomfort. This was an important practice for me in my 30s, as I needed to learn about staying in one place instead of packing up and moving every time things got challenging. As a mother, cutting and running like I did when I was in my 20s was no longer an option. The urge to run away was still strong, especially when the children were little or my relationship with the Bear would hit rocky waters. I would long to just leave, go somewhere else, live another life. I thought about those women who abandoned their families with a mixture of horror and longing, and although I never physically ran away I would absent myself emotionally when things got tough. Five years ago, when I began a daily yoga practice, I learned to sit with discomfort, to not run away when things got difficult. As part of the process of sitting with myself, I learned that I needed space of my own and time away, and when I gave those things to myself, I no longer needed to run away.

Perhaps now that I am in my 40s, I need to switch the focus of my practice to one that uses breath and movement to fill up my well.Β I know I am not the only one with this problem – everywhere I look I see people trying to do everything and be everything, and running their lives on empty tanks. We are not taught how to fill up our well. Many people spend their days fuelled on caffeine and their nights wound down by alcohol. Don’t get me wrong – I love espresso coffee and good wine. My cup of coffee in the morning is one of my greatest everyday pleasures; however, using it as a way to run on an empty tank will cause damage, as will any drug used in this way. I don’t really want to spend my 50s recovering from the damage I did to my body when I was in my 40s, if you get my meaning. So many of us stop exercising because we’re so busy. We don’t eat properly any more – because we’re busy. We forget to have fun and play – because we’re too busy. We drop our meditation practice – because we’re too busy. If we neglect and deplete our entire self, our body, mind, heart and spirit, then what have we become? We are literally a shadow of our former selves.

As we walked and talked, my mother and I, we talked about the kinds of practices that are regenerative, recharging and ideal for topping up our energetic well. Mum is loving her Qigong and Taichi practice, which are beautiful modalities, but they aren’t in my repertoire (Yet. I have plans πŸ™‚ ). However, in my collection of sequences and practices that I have been putting together for years, I have quite a few Β that are designed to replenish and revitalise. These practices literally fill the well, and in combination with healthy choices around food, movement and sleep, will keep us topped up in the busy times.

5 Ways to Fill Your Well

Do-in acupressure energising technique: I was taught this at a women’s retreat run by a wonderful local therapist called Sue Baughman a couple of months ago, and I was so taken with it that I have been using it ever since. Acupressure works with points and meridians in the same way that acupuncture does, but you use your fingers and hands instead of needles, tapping, stroking and patting. It takes a few minutes and literally wakes up your body, stimulating the flow of energy through your energetic body along the meridians which are the energy highways. Printable instructions are here:Β Do-in acupressure energising technique.

Dru Yoga: I came upon this sequence by accident a few months ago, and have incorporated it into my practice for its lovely gentle flow. There are others as well – the Dru tree sequence is another favourite – they have the flow of taichi and the feel of yoga, and are very gentle and nourishing:

Yin Yoga: Is seen as a counterbalance to the more yang, active style of yoga, where you push and strive towards an outcome. Yin yoga is slow, involving Β various sitting or supine postures, often supported by bolsters or blocks, held from 3-5 minutes. A yin yoga practice is an inward practice, focusing on releasing tightness and restriction. Like all yoga, the benefits flow from the body to the brain, and you may find that attitudes that were blocking your way forward may simply dissolve along with the tightness in your hips. This is a great sequence with a printable version that I use all the time: Yin Yoga for Surrender and Self Care.

Breathing: A conscious breathing practice, known in yoga as pranayama, is one of the most powerful ways of filling our energy well. Prana is the sanskrit term for life force or breath and ayama means to regulate or control. In pranayama, we use the control of our breath to increase our life force. Learning how to breathe using the whole of our lung capacity is extremely beneficial. There is a whole world of breathing techniques out there, but there is one very simple breath that I will share with you, called the 4×4 breath: breathe in for the count of four, hold for the count of four, breathe out for the count of four and leave a space before inhalation for the count of four. Repeat the cycle three more times. The beauty of breath, is that you can breathe anywhere, anytime. There are some wonderful beginner videos here if you are interested in learning more.

Yoga Nidra: means yogic sleep – a deep relaxation where you access the consciousness of deep sleep while staying awake. You are guided step by step into an inner awareness, focusing on each part of your body. Like anything in yoga, it can be accessed in a shallow or deep way and anything in between – and all of them are beneficial in their own way. It is possible to do a self-guided yoga nidra, but there are so many beautiful guided yoga nidra recordings, many of them free, that I would recommend you use one of them, especially if you are new to this practice. To get you started, there is a yoga nidra app, free yoga nidra recordingsΒ and for a deeper practice, a full yoga nidra cd or download.

I really believe that our everyday lives hold the key to balance and replenishment. We should not have to wait for a holiday or retreat to fill our well – self-nourishment and awareness can be built into our day so that we do not become depleted. Fortunately for us, we have the resources that we need, here, within our bodies – our ability to move, our breath, our awareness, our sense of connection. I hope that you find something useful here for your own self-care!

How do you fill your well?

 

24 comments

    • Hello Zoe ❀️ I thought that I was right – women about our age need to do something to fill our well. We can’t rely on our youth to automatically rejuvenate us overnight anymore…I hope something takes your fancy here, and that you and your family are adjusting to your hemisphere shift well…I miss seeing your beautiful face tho!

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  1. What a wonderful resource you have provided with the various links. Thank you so much, Sarah, these are what I have been needing. In the last few days I have realised the pain I have been having in my leg disappears when I SLOW DOWN. Go figure. πŸ’•

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    • Oh that’s great Ardys! I am so glad people are viewing this post as a resource, because that’s exactly how I wanted it to be used. As for that leg pain – I know exactly what you are talking about, because I’ve had something similar 😊

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  2. Great suggestions! In pranayama, I’ve had success with alternate nostril breathing…it leaves me feeling more balanced afterwards. To fill the well, I start each morning with meditation – it’s part of my morning ritual that I’ve come to look forward to… the insight and clarity that comes from this practice is what keeps me so committed.

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    • Hi Elysha, I like alternate nostril breathing as well…and I’m so glad to hear that you have a meditation practice that is a source of nourishment for you! I have found that I can only do a sitting meditation after movement…which I guess is why I try to combine the two 😜

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  3. wonderful how you care for your youth so skillfully!
    those physical yoga techniques may be useful for me.
    but, i’ve come to appreciate a nearly empty well
    and be grateful for a fresh sunrise πŸ™‚

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  4. Age is a state of mind and it matters if we don’t matter about our body. The body with age needs different treatment and nourishment to cope with the changing state of mind. Mind wants to be young but the body with age finds it difficult to cope with the enthusiasm of mind. Yes Sara everything changes with these blocks of aging decade from the 20s to 30s to 40s, indeed we need to prepare for the changing times and changing patterns of work that come along with those changing phases of life.

    Pranayama and Yoga are two most powerful practices which has little limitation to the age we are and it can be practiced anywhere and any age, the benefits I must admit are simple phenomenal. Breathing exercise defines our lifestyle, yoga counters any negative we acquire through our lifestyle.

    Today, health is factor our of lifestyle we live. It is only the habit of practicing it regularly and there comes the role of mind to be disciplined and life the body to do the physical part of the practice.Who else can be a better guide than our parents, especially our mother, they know it all and they care more than anybody on this earth for us and their thoughts and wisdom are immeasurable.

    Walking itself is such a therapeutic exercise and I can add this to the list of lovely suggestions that you have made, talking while walking and getting the best of two worlds has magical affect on our body, mind and soul. Though I haven’t had any exposure and knowledge other practices like Taichi which has its own set of benefits along with techniques like Acupressure…

    Indeed a beautiful post, so much reflect. We take out life for granted and we get mired in our daily routines and get caught in work pressure and wait for moments to enjoy life. Joy of life is in smaller moments not the big things in life.

    Sara, have a peaceful and refreshing Sunday.
    πŸ˜€

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  5. You are so right… there have been times when coffee, sugar and alcohol were part of my just need to get this across the line repertoire… but what goes up must come down… In my 40’s I would nuture myself by walking, a kind of ambulatory meditation where my mind would clear and deliver just messages that I needed and the physical activity counteracted the hours I spent at a desk. And chopping… sometimes plain eveyday actions like cutting up veges would sooth after work tension. Now, I think it’s time to find my way back to meditation which I used well to navigate my 30’s, and some gentle yoga as something new.

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    • Hullo Dale, you are so right – it is in the every day tasks that we can find nourishment – walking, food preparation – anything where our bodies are busy and our minds free. I think that’s why I included so many moving elements to my list, although this morning (technically this morning, more night, but I couldn’t sleep) I did actually do a sitting meditation with breathing techniques, and that was lovely too, a dipping down into myself.
      Hey, I hope you and the G.O. are having a great time on your trip – I see you are covering some decent ground!

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  6. Thank you so much for these suggestions and sharings. I’m definitely going to give them a try. I usually fill my well by going out into nature with my camera. Seeing things through a lens puts me in touch with them in a different way. When I’m playing around with macro photography, a tree stump becomes an entire world. The majesty of a grand view opens my heart. And the beauty of a flower or symmetry of a plant connects me straight to source. Being just into my fifties and dealing with the hormones of a 13 yr. old son, I have to take care of myself. Then there are the times when a nap is just the ticket.

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    • Oh gosh, a nap! Yes πŸ™‚ I don’t often nap, but when I do, it’s the most delicious feeling. Anything creative, especially one that requires close observation and focus, especially out in nature, is so wonderfully nourishing. Photography is both an art and a science, I guess like all crafts, and so fills our hearts and minds up. The changing of perspective from tiny to panoramic and everything in between – well, it sounds like a metaphor for life, doesn’t it? It’s almost a blog post πŸ™‚ I am just in my 40s and dealing with the hormones of my 12 year old son, so I hear you πŸ™‚

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  7. Aaaah this is so good. I also have found myself needing to shift my practice… it has been a very stressful few months full of big changes and my energy just has not been there for my usual strong vinyasa practice. I realized that my body is sending me a clear message that its energy is being used elsewhere and gentle, restorative practice is what it craves most right now. I have bookmarked all of these resources, thank you!

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    • Annabele, it pleases me so much to have helped you in some way. I feel such affection for my strength building practice as well, and I love how my body feels afterwards – but in times of big energy output and change, it is more depleting than restorative, as you have been discovering as well. I actually returned to my yoga class after more than a year absence last week, in part because I felt my practice needed fresh air, but also because I can get that 90 minutes of being pushed and thus satisfy that yang part of myself, hopefully freeing myself up for a gentler practice at home.

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  8. Reblogged this on uncharted ground and commented:
    Fabulous post from The Practical Mystic. Summer days are a time of high energy and activity, days are often full of social activities, events and trips. For me, the clear evidence that I have been letting self-care fall by the wayside is when I begin ruining those otherwise lovely, fun-filled times with friends and family by suddenly becoming a miserable grump and resenting everyone around me, including the dog and the cat (omg, especially the cat). Part of the commitment to self, as the Practical Mystic points out, is carefully observing what your needs are today, in your body and spirit, and knowing that they will shift from day to day, season to season.
    I am thankful for the great resources offered in this post and re-commit to exploring new ways of nurturing myself in this season, paying closer attention to keeping my “well” from running dry (and I become a heinous bitch version of myself.) OoooooMMMM.

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    • Becoming a heinous bitch version of myself – yep, I identify completely. We definitely do not put our best self forward when we scrape the bottom of our own barrel. Last month when I was working two jobs, studying part time and making sure three members of my family had great birthdays, all within 9 days of each other, I emptied my well completely. As a result I developed bronchitis, which I’m still recovering from, and hence all these ponderings. I ended up getting the best marks I had ever gotten for both of my major essays, causing the Bear to claim 10% as a bitch tax lol πŸ™‚

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  9. Love filling the well. Love the 40’s and love your 5 ways. Thanks for sharing! You can tell my morning getting the kids ready for school routines are a-calling, as the comments and reflection shorten. The heartfull intention and appreciation to you still shines through thou! School lunch boxes call. Final winter solstice blessings, until my next sporadic visit…

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    • I can feel it shining through! Don’t worry Kate, I don’t need a long message to feel your appreciation 😊 my kids have just hopped on the bus, a relatively peaceful morning this morning, which is a blessing omg 😊

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    • Hi Michaela, I’m glad you enjoyed my post. I love yoga as well – it has been my saviour and my refuge for many years now! Enjoy getting to know yoga nidra – it is a wonderful tool.

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