01/04/2013 09:27 am ET

GPS Guide: Marianne Elliott Shares Powerful Ways To Find Your Center

The stress and strain of constantly being connected can sometimes take your life -- and your well-being -- off course. GPS For The Soul can help you find your way back to balance.

GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others' stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing "secret weapons" that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony, or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to look at the GPS Guide below, visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.

Marianne Elliott, author and online yoga instructor, shares her personal tips for relaxation in her GPS Guide below.

1. Breathe.

The most powerful and versatile tool I know for centering, calming and grounding myself is my breath. I use simple yoga breathing practices like this one: Sit comfortably -- with a long spine and open, soft belly and chest. Let your eyes close gently and your hands rest comfortably on your knees. Begin to pay attention to your breath, softly counting the length of your inhale and exhale. Without any sense of force or strain, slowly balance out your breath so that your inhale and exhale are the same length. As you do this, you are balancing your nervous system, deepening your breath and gently centering your attention. Simple, powerful and you can do it anywhere -- even on the train.

2. Go outside and move your body.

When I get stressed out, one of the first things I notice is that my mind disconnects from my body. My breath gets shallower, my body gets tighter and my head gets busier. After breathing, the most effective tool I have to reconnect my heart, mind and body and to ground myself is to move my body. Yoga is great. And so is simply walking out the front door. I live in Wellington, New Zealand where the weather is often wild, but the views are spectacular. Most of my calming photos (below) are images I've taken while out on a walk or a run.

3. Call a friend.

Sometimes I need an outside perspective on my inner turmoil. I have a few friends who I know I can call when I'm feeling overwhelmed. They'll listen to my litany of worries or complaints and, with great love and gentleness, they'll give me the perspective I need -- whether that's the reassurance that I'm doing as well as anyone could under the circumstances or a loving nudge away from my anxieties and back towards the more stable and nourishing ground of gratitude.

4. Chanting.

Until I tried it, I thought chanting was a bit wacky. But now I'm a total convert. Chanting is my short cut to calmness - the perfect meditation technique for busy-minded folk (like me).

Marianne Elliott's GPS Guide

Marianne Elliott is an attorney, human rights advocate and author. She served as a United Nations peacekeeper in Afghanistan with a focus on human rights and gender issues. Her work has included developing human rights strategies for the governments of New Zealand and Timor-Leste and serving as a Policy Advisor for Oxfam. Marianne is the author of Zen Under Fire, a memoir about her work in Afghanistan. She also teaches yoga online.

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