Gentle fingers knead my back, laving it with warm oil. Bliss. Slowly, softly, pleasure diffuses through my being, like cream dissolving into cappuccino. In this moment, I know that pure bliss is simple. It is free. And wherever you are, however busy, you can always find a few moments of bliss.
I'm so glad I allowed myself to enjoy this fifteen-minute chair massage at the mall -- free of charge and purely on impulse.
Fill This Moment; It Is Bliss
How is your day going? Or is it going, going, gone -- just like that, in the blink of an eye? Is the roller coaster of your life running so fast you're afraid to jump off? If so, let me tell you a beautiful Zen story from Japan:
A man was being chased across a field by a ferocious tiger. At the edge of the field, there was a cliff. To escape the tiger, the man caught hold of a vine and swung himself over the edge of the cliff. Dangling down, he saw that there were more tigers on the ground below him! To make matters worse, two mice were gnawing at the vine to which he clung. He knew that at any moment, he would fall to certain death. That's when he noticed a wild strawberry growing on the cliff wall. Clutching the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other and put it in his mouth.
He had never before realized how sweet a strawberry could taste.
What a poignant message! Life offers hundreds of simple pleasures, as sweet as the taste of a strawberry. They're yours for the taking, yours for free. Seize them! Don't postpone until tomorrow -- or even the next hour -- what you can enjoy today, at this moment.
Let me suggest some succulent ways to slow down and savor the moment:
* Sit in your backyard or bay window, sketching a tree, reading a book, or just daydreaming.
* Dance to "The Time of My Life" -- even if you have two left feet.
* Listen to the love theme from Out of Africa with your sweetheart on a moonlit night. Or pump up the volume and enjoy a zesty old favorite.
* Watch the first redwings of spring splash and dip in your birdbath.
* Soak in the many moods of a tree: thoughtful in its stillness, swaying in the wild wind like a fan at a rock concert, looking radiant after a rain bath.
* Enjoy India-style corn next time you have a rainstorm. At monsoon, the bazaars of India come alive with the aroma of corn roasted over hot coals. Rub roasted ears of corn with slices of lemon dipped in a mixture of rock salt and black pepper. Pull a chair up to your window and mmmunch to the sound of the pouring rain. The lemony juice might dribble down your chin, but that is as it should be!
* Savor the aroma of grilled onion and peppers on a summer afternoon.
* Chat with your best friend over tea, hot scones, and homemade jam.
* Take off your shoes, then flop like a rag doll on your bed for a long time after a hard day.
* Wake up your skin and senses with a refreshing rose-water spritz at the end of a long day. Organic rosewater, made from fresh, bug-free petals, not only heals and refreshes all types of skin, but also suffuses your senses with its lingering fragrance.
Then there are little bliss-breaks that, while being equally simple, are refreshingly different. Here are some terrific ideas I've come across:
Smile with Your Whole Being
Flip through a family album, watch your wedding video, or just close your eyes and think back to a time when you were truly happy. Remember the day at the beach when you built sandcastles with your kids, a vacation when you reconnected with your spouse, or the day you spent in your pajamas reading an enchanting book. Sweet memories always make you smile. When you feel the smile coming, envision it seeping through your whole being, from the tips of your toes, across your heart, to the top of your head, into every cell.
Touch a "Marma" Point on Your Body
The word marma means "hidden" or "secret." You have 107 "secret" points -- places on your body where two or more types of tissue meet. Ayurvedic healers describe the marmas as "bridges between your physical and spiritual energies." So pressing a manna point is an exquisite feeling. Here are three easy-to-locate marina points on your body:
* the hollow of your temples, on either side of your head
* the sides of your nose where your nostrils flare
* the center of your wrist, just below your hand (palm facing up)
To energize your marmas, place a few drops of warm sesame or almond oil on your fingertips, then rub the area gently for a minute or two. Breathe gently and deeply as you do this. Brew a cup of healing chamomile tea, and enjoy it afterward.
Rejuvenate Your "Rasa"
Rasa, in sanskrit, is the essence or "juice" of life. The healers of India believe that when we're young, we're rich with rasa: The skin is moist, digestion is efficient, and energy levels are at their peak. As we grow older, our reserves of essential energy become depleted, resulting in low vitality, poor health, and that "over the hill" feeling.
Restoring your rasa can be a joyous journey -- and it needn't be a long, tiring one, either. Just for a day, commit yourself to conserving your energy for things you really enjoy. Here are some ideas on how you can do this:
* Eat lightly throughout the day. Heavy meals place great stress on the body's digestive system, draining you of rasa.
* Eat foods that actually replenish your rasa; these are called rasayanas (rasa: juice; ayana: bring in). Fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, light soups and salads, whole grains, nuts (particularly almonds), and organic yogurt -- all of these qualify as rasayanas.
* Give your overworked senses a reprieve. If you were planning to work on the computer for three hours, work for one hour instead. Then take a break and come back to your desk later -- if you feel like it. Otherwise, take half the day off and spend it in the comfort of your home. Similarly, cut down -- just for the day -- on Internet surfing and television watching, which strain your eyes, back, and brain.
* Take a healing nap; it's the easiest, most pleasurable way to conserve your rasa. Sleep researchers have found that a "power nap" can work as a mini-hibernation, reversing information overload and helping you think better. If you can't afford to take a fifteen-minute nap in bed, simply put your head down on your desk and close your eyes for a few minutes. You'll wake up with energy to burn.
* Get into bed a little early. Prepare for bedtime like you would for a date (bedtime can be a wonderful way to date yourself!): Take a warm shower, pamper your skin with a softening after-bath lotion, dim the lights, and climb into the comfort of crisp, clean sheets. Surround yourself with sights and sounds that say "serenity": incense, a sprig of lavender, or scented candles (take care: never leave a burning candle unattended); wind chimes, a soothing CD, a water fountain, or a hand-crafted wooden flute; crystals, seashells, or artwork that relaxes you; crisp air flowing in through an open window. Breathe deeply, and let your mind gradually settle into restfulness. This night of restful sleep will endow you with a bounty of rasa for the next day.
"HOLD FAST YOUR DREAMS! / Within your heart / Keep one still, secret spot / Where dreams may go,"' wrote Louise Driscoll. A dream can be anything from an expression of your deepest desires to a declaration of great intent. Tuck little "journals of dreams" by your bedside, in your office drawer, or in your car. Big, small, sweet, silly, vague, concrete -- let those pages hold all sorts of dreams you've had over the years. (I think journals make the best companions; every woman should give herself one!)
If you aren't passionate about writing, express yourself in a way that appeals to you:
* Sketch your dream. Paint it. Color it. Frame it.
* Say it on camera: Use a small video camera to make a movie about your dream.
* Sing your dream out loud. Do this as you take a shower; don't worry about reason or rhyme, just take the theme "My Dream," and let the words come pouring out.
Make Someone Else's Day
Research shows that a simple act of kindness can work wonders for the way you feel. Allan Luks, author of The Healing Power of Doing Good: The Health and Spiritual Benefits of Helping Others, surveyed more than 3,000 volunteers of all ages across the country, asking them how they felt after doing a good deed. The results established that, after performing a kind act, most people feel a rush of euphoria, followed by a longer period of calm. Luks called this feeling "helper's high," and concluded that the initial rush of joy slowly gives way to long-lasting feelings of emotional well-being.
Even if you're overstretched and don't have time to do someone a favor, you can make people around you happy through simple gestures and words. Smile at the next person you see. Give someone a pat or a hug. Be generous with compliments. Say a kind word. Some of the most beautiful phrases in the English language are:
* "You look beautiful."
* "I'm here for you."
* "Here is a little something for you."
* "I love you."
This article was excerpted from:
About the Author
Shubhra Krishan was a news correspondent for India's biggest network and an editor at Cosmopolitan (India) before moving to the United States with her family. Her articles have appeared in many national magazines. Shubhra works in the marketing department of Maharishi Ayurveda, a company in Colorado Springs that produces and markets ayurvedic products, including their popular Raja’s Cup (a coffee substitute).
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