About the Author: As a Life Coach, Meditation and Yoga Teacher & Therapist, Anne Douglas offers training, retreats, and workshops worldwide. Visit her website for more information: http://www.anahatayogatherapy.ca
As the holiday season approaches, many of us find ourselves filled with a sense of dread rather than excitement. Let’s face it, holidays can be an overwhelming time for many. The pressure to meet a work or travel deadline, family obligations, or the stress of uneasy relations and unmet expectations can cause blood pressure to rise and happiness levels to plummet.
Instead of dealing with your holiday stress on the fly, the best defense can come with a little preparation. As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and meditation can be the perfect pre-emptive step. Research has shown that even a short-term meditation practice can improve your ability to meet stress. Here are a few mindfulness techniques that you can use at any time to help you reduce stress and truly enjoy “the most wonderful time of the year.”
One of the most popular meditation practices taught worldwide is to use the simple rise and fall of your breath as the focus of attention. As you notice yourself getting distracted in thought, you simply return your attention to the breath. This helps to build your capacity to stay present and undistracted. When stressful thoughts arise, be it in meditation or in daily life, you turn your attention back to your breath. The stressful thought spontaneously dissolves without your engagement in it. It can be that simple!
Body Sensing Meditation
Did you know, your mind can’t think and feel at the same time? By placing your attention on the sensations in your body, your mind gets quiet and your body relaxes. As with mindful breathing, when you notice yourself distracted in stressful thought, simply bring your attention to your sensate experience and watch stressful thoughts disappear. The more you repeat this practice, the more it will instantly be available to you as a conditioned response to stress.
Listening to the Messengers
Recurrent stressful thoughts are often messengers of action that is required. For example, incessant thoughts about your travel plans or anticipated challenges with someone in your family could herald the need for you to sit down and book your flights asap, to communicate clear boundaries with your loved ones, or to be sure to set aside some time for self-care through the holidays. To retrieve the message that stress may be offering, take a few relaxing breaths and feel into the sensations of stress in your body. Ask the feeling of stress “is there a message you are trying to tell me?” Then, just listen to what spontaneously arises as an intuitive response, and make a commitment to follow through on the action requested.
If you find it hard to practice these techniques on your own, try a 5-minute guided meditation to help!
Try the Simple Habit Holiday Stress meditation, led by Anne Douglas. A 10-minute guided meditation to help you find moments of calm for holiday stress.
Whether you’re visiting family, friends, or soon-to-be in-laws, this 5-minute meditation will help you feel prepared and relaxed before your upcoming travels.
Even during vacation, it can be hard to calm your mind and settle into a new environment. Try this 5-minute meditation to make yourself feel comfortable.
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