The holidays are a time of celebration and gathering with family and friends, a time to remember and appreciate our many blessings. Our society puts too much emphasis on the gift giving and eating aspect of the holidays. This can lead to weight gain, as well as anger-filled and sometimes fatal holiday shopping. What ever happened to simple acts of kindness and appreciating time spent with loved ones?
 
It is an interesting dynamic when we look how the seasons have an impact on our energy level. The days are getting shorter and darker as we approach the winter solstice. The sun is the energizer for all living things. Therefore, we must conserve and focus our energy during the winter. It is a time to go inward and refuel, like the bears in hibernation. However, our schedules are full of holiday shopping, travel, and parties. As a result we often tend to overextend ourselves and become overwhelmed. This opposition, as well as the family conflicts some experience, can lead to holiday stress.  
 
In the fitness industry, we often see a decline in yoga class sizes and gym numbers in December and a huge increase in January following the New Year’s resolutions. However between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the time we need to exercise and meditate the most. As we all know, exercise can combat the extra pounds as well as increase endorphins to make us feel more vibrant and happy. Meditation is also key to enhancing a sense of joy and peace. When we feel we have no time for ourselves is when we need that time the most.
 
This holiday season make time for you, even if it is just twenty minutes of exercise and five to ten minutes of meditation. This sacred time is well spent and necessary for your wellbeing. Remember the bears that are hibernating all winter. I like to think of them as meditating so when they awaken they have a renewed sense of clarity and energy
 
A simple breathing meditation to restore peace of mind:
 
  1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position 
  2. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart
  3. Observe your normal breathing for a few moments
  4. Gradually increase the volume of breath
  5. Inhale one-third into the belly, one-third into the ribs (expanding to the sides), and one-third up toward the collarbones
  6. Hold the breath for a moment
  7. Exhale smoothly and evenly
  8. Hold the breath out for a moment
  9. Add the mindfulness mantra: “I am breathing in” as you inhale, “I am breathing out” as you exhale
  10. Continue for five to ten minutes 
 
As thoughts or emotions arise, just observe them. It will be as though you are watching a cloud passing in the sky with a sense of detachment. This will give you a big-picture view of situations in your life. By observing without reacting to the thoughts and emotions that come to the surface, you are better able to handle them and see a solution. 
 
The age old saying “take a deep breath” is a wise one and has proven true since ancient times. Do this meditation every morning or before encountering a possible stressful environment. Think of this time as your daily hibernation to bring you back into balance. Have happy and peaceful holidays!
 
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.
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