There is but a few weeks left until the official Christmas and New Year season of madness peaks, and ends. What seems like, and quite literally is in the media, months of promotion, pressure, and a the push to end the year in an existential possession centered “high”, can actually be and create stressful situations that undermine what a holistic lifestyle actually means.
Within this perpetual push of the culture around us, I wonder, have you ever found yourself swept up in theChristmas and New Year pandemonium and in need of a powerful pause that allows the chaos to stop for just one moment? I know I have! So too, there are many moments where I need a practical technique that allows me to reconnect within myself, to bring a sense of grounded being back, and reestablish my instinctual ability to bring about internal equilibrium. This said, I want to offer 3 simple techniques that you can utilise this holiday season.
Everyone is saying it: “just breathe”… And yes the message is valid, yet at the same time I do wonder if the ambush of the message in the media has diminished the meaning of the technique for you? If it has I would like to offer a reframe of the notion: Pranayama – extend your life force.
Take a moment where you are right now, close your eyes, place your hand on your heart, and inhale through your nose. Visualize the air entering and moving down, filling your lungs and extending down toward the lower pelvis, strengthening your connection to your internal essence. Visualize and move the breath slowly upward and outward, never tightening the pelvic or throat muscles.
Repeating this process, no matter where you are, not only allows you to compassionately connect with your internal essence, so to it activates the parasympathetic nervous system and allows the heart to slow, muscles to relax, and the body to move from flight/fight mode to rest/digest mode.
Read more about breathing your way to good health with the practice of Pranayama
Christmas and New Year is the most intense, and certainly the time where we begin to negate one of the most important aspects of our wellbeing – sleep. With shopping centers open 24/7, end of year demands at work, celebrations, and the pressure to “get it all done”, it seems quite often that the first thing to go is sleep. Yet sleep is imperative in our ability to think rationally, to remain calm during heightened stressful situations, and most importantly our innate ability to regulate and integrate becomes imbalanced. This imbalance, while you may think it “only for a season”, can create symptomology of sleep debt as well as a perpetual cycle of ill-health.
Therefore, this season ensure that each night you are attaining 8 hours of quality sleep. If you are finding that you are struggling to fall asleep, if sleep is interrupted, or of poor quality consider these three things:
- Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, Nicotine, and Other Chemicals that Interfere with Sleep
- Use Light to Your Advantage & Keep Your Internal Clock Set with a Consistent Sleep Schedule
- Lighten Up on Evening Meals & Balance Fluid Intake (Resourced from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School)
Read more about sleep dept and cultivating holistic sleep cycles here
- Awaken Compassion
Lastly, it is this time of year where compassionate connection is most in need. Quite often we see or experience occasions wrought with controversy, where seemingly simplistic concerns become passionately defensive conflicts whereby disintegrated states of being cause disconnect at a time where connection is paramount.
Therefore it is at this time where the practice of Tonglen – the gift of giving and receiving, is most in need. There is much value in cultivating a sense of universal connectedness when it comes to Christmas and New Year. Opening our hearts and minds to others is a practice in which we are able to reduce our own stress, anxiety, or depression; regulate cognitive functioning; stimulate our Vagas Nerve; and form new neuro pathways concerning automatically activated compassion toward sentient suffering.
The practice, as per The Seven Points of Mind Training By The Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche Geshe Lharampa, involves:
… imagining other living beings in front of us, many or just a few. We can imagine people in pain, people we know who are sick, people in distress or suffering. We imagine that we send these people happiness and the causes of happiness as well. For this to happen, we imagine that we give them whatever goodness we can think of, and we imagine that we receive whatever suffering and causes of suffering, all the distress and negative emotions they experience. We imagine that by being freed from suffering and its causes, they experience happiness and well-being. We practice this again and again and thus become more and more used to taking away the suffering of others and giving them our own well-being and causes of happiness. By training in this sending and taking practice, the regarding of oneself as more important than others diminishes and regarding others as more important becomes stronger and stronger…
Read more about Tonglen and awakening compassion here
When you find yourself swept up in theChristmas and New Year pandemonium and in need of a powerful pause that allows the chaos to stop for just one moment, you now know to come back to:
With these 3 simple techniques to surviving the Christmas and New Year season you can reconnect within yourself, bring a sense of grounded being back, and reestablish your instinctual ability to bring about internal equilibrium and indeed stay present and enjoy the true meaning of this holiday season.
So too, when Christmas and New Year are over, and you are in dire need of rest and recuperation, Celia Roberts, Samantha Lindsey German, and Swami Mukti come together to present to you with a new year’s retreat of captivating beauty and educational excellence. Hosted at the Upper Brookfield Sanctuary in Brisbane, Queensland, this retreat will offer four sessions dedicated to embracing your personal ambitions for 2018.