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a breathing technique for stress relief

Reducing stress in a matter of seconds is possible. Find out how.

This wonderful and simple breathing technique can reduce stress in a matter of seconds. With a few deep breaths, we can simultaneously turn down the sympathetic nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is linked to the production of stress hormones while the parasympathetic nervous system is associated with the induction of a calm state. 

  • Take a moment to pause and close your eyes or direct your gaze on a fixed point.
  • Take a deep - long and slow - inhale through the nose for a count of 4; feeling the air coming into the body.
  • Hold the breath for a count of 4. 
  • Take a deep - long and slow - exhale through the mouth for a count of 8; feeling the air leaving the body. 
  • Repeat 3 to 5 times, or until you feel better.
  • Feel free to use this technique anywhere and at anytime throughout the day, whether you are standing, sitting, lying down, in a busy or quiet place.
Movement Tips

finding a balance at work

Concerned about sitting too much? Dreaming about your standing desk? So, what’s best for my body at work?

Sitting or not to sit, that is the question! You will hear pro’s and con’s about sitting at work vs. standing at work. As you research more, you will find scientific evidence backing up how one is much better for your health than the other and why; and you will scratch your head when you push your curiosity further and find out that the latest publications support that completely adopting one while refuting the other is actually not so great either. Bottom line: alternating moderate periods of sitting and standing with sporadic variety of movements throughout the body might be the best answer to find equilibrium to your life at work! 

  • Take a break from sitting or standing every 20 to 30 minutes and move for at least 2 minutes.
  • Move head and shoulders during periods of sitting. 
  • Insert calf-raises and squats in periods of standing. 
  • Move the spine in every direction at different points throughout the day. Flex the spine, reaching towards your feet. Extend the spine, reaching overheads. Lateral-flex the spine, reaching out to one side and the other side. Rotate the spine, reaching across to the opposite side, and to the other opposite side.
  • Create more than one way to get to the same place. Whenever you are walking, take conscious breaths to create mental and physical space, reduce stress and invigorate energy. Articulate the souls of your feet, bring awareness to your posture, let your arms swing in opposite direction.
Mindfulness Tips

the PEBBLE MEDITATION

Learning the Pebble Meditation. How to use it and why?

The Pebble Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh is a mindful breathing practice combining the visualization of images and the cultivation of qualities. This meditation is a way to reconnect to ourselves and our inner qualities, to unwind and cultivate peace. Feel free to choose four different pebbles for this practice. The action of holding each pebble brings an additional layer to the practice of being aware to the present moment experience, involving the sense of feeling-touch. If you do not have any pebbles handy, allow yourself the possibility to explore this practice without the pebbles. They are a fun touch, but not a absolute necessity.

  • Take a few moments to settle in and sit comfortably in a quiet place. If you have four pebbles, place them in front of you. During the meditation, pick the first pebble with your left hand and hold it for the first image. Place it into your right hand and hold it for the first quality. Repeat the same gestures for each pebble. 
  • The first pebble is associated with the image of a flower and the quality of freshness. Visualize in your own mind's eyes, a flower. The flower exhibits beauty and freshness in nature. Just like the flower, reconnect to the qualities of beauty and freshness that exist within you. "Breathing in, I see myself as a flower". "Breathing out, I feel fresh". Repeat again two times with awareness of the breath, image and quality: "in, flower"; "out, fresh".
  • The second pebble is associated with the image of a mountain and the quality of solidity. Visualize in your own mind's eye, a mountain. The mountain remains grounded and solid, no matter what is happening. Just like the mountain, explore the quality of groundedness and solidity within you. "Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain". "Breathing out, I feel solid". Repeat again two times with awareness of breath, image and quality: "in, mountain"; "out, solid".
  • The third pebble is associated with the image of still water and the quality of clarity.  Visualize in your own mind's eye, a body of still water such as a lake. When the water is still, it is transparent, calm and clear to reflect things are they are. Just like a lake, when we connect to the qualities of still water, we can see with transparency, we can experience calm, and we can make better decisions. "Breathing in, I see myself as still". "Breathing out,  feel clarity, the clarity of still water to reflect things as they are". Repeat again two times with awareness of breath, image and quality: "in, still water"; "out, clear". 
  • The fourth pebble is associated with the image of space and the quality of freedom. Visualize in your own mind's eye, space; space around you, in the room, outside, in the sky, in the universe and space inside of you. When there is space, there is room; there is room for oneself, room for others, room for relationships, room to grow, room to feel free. Feel the space around and inside you, and feel freedom. "Breathing in, I see myself as space". "Breathing out, I feel free". Repeat again two times with awareness of breath, image and quality: "in, space"; "out, free".
Mindful Living Tips

OPEN YOUR SENSES TO SAFFRON

Discover the gem of the spices: saffron. Today, we learn how to explore and integrate saffron into a mindful way of living.

Mindful Living is about the awareness of paying attention to present moment experiences with a quality of openness, curiosity, and willingness to meeting whatever is arising. Turning the attention to something new, littly or commonly known is one way to cultivate mindful living. Today, we explore Saffron, a culinary delight used in foods or beverages, such as risottos, stews or teas. We learn, with these simple steps, how to incorporate informal layers of mindfulness practice with saffron.

  • Seeing. Paying attention to the different colors and shapes of saffron threads.
  • Touching. Picking a thread of saffron, sensing its weight, feeling its texture in contact with the hand.
  • Smelling. Waking up the sense of smell to the distinctive scent of saffron.
  • Tasting. Drinking or eating saffron mindfully, and recognizing its unique taste.
  • Saffron has many virtues: vitality booster, antioxidant, anti-depressant, anxiety reliever, good mood enhancer, weight loss reducer. Recognizing, with appreciation and gratitude, the efforts it has taken for the saffron to grow and make its way here, the benefits it has on the health.

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