Tis the season for Joy, Peace, renewed Hope for the future and all the other positive accolades which seem to filter their way into this time of year. Some say Merry Christmas, some say Merry Xmas, some say Happy Holidays and, when they're past, most people say, "Thank God."
As anyone can tell you, the holidays are a mix of all that is positive intermingled with ‘shoppers’ stress, sadness, grief, fear, anger and a host of other negative emotions, all which add up to pulling you away from your center of being or your sense of balance. Being separated from Center can leave you susceptible to emotional and physical problems such as body aches, hives, high blood pressure and heart palpitations, secondary to an increase in stress and anxiety. All this basically interferes with connecting with the more positive aspects of the holiday season.
What follows is a practice you can utilize which will keep you Centered even during the aversive stress within you and around you. You will experience perhaps what Christians call “the peace that surpasses all understanding” and what the Buddhists refer to as “abiding presence.”
So, let’s get started: The basic premise is that you cannot help being POPPED away from your CENTER. That’s just going to happen. A toy is not available because someone in front of you got the last one, POP! Now you’re upset and may begin to feel angry. You have just been popped away from your center (kind of like a feeling of musculature contraction). The CENTER in Eastern thought is found in mind-body connection with your breath which occurs in the present moment.
Take a moment to relax in a comfortable position. As you become aware of your in-breath, say to yourself: Breathing In, I know I’m breathing in. Now, as you become aware of your out-breath say to yourself: Breathing out, I know I’m breathing out. Do this several times to get comfortable with the phrasing and feeling. So now, in the present moment, your mind and body are connected in a single event, BREATHING. That’s being CENTERED.
To prepare yourself for coming back to CENTER after being POPPED away (e.g. by that person who cut you off in traffic), it’s necessary to get into a practice routine. I suggest 5 ways to practice this over the next 2-weeks:
Before you turn the ignition on, breathe in – breathe out 1-2 times;
While at stop lights (not stop signs), breathe in – out for the duration of the red light
When your cell phone rings or vibrates, do 1 breathe in- out before answering
Before going to sleep, try 5-6 breathe in – out
Same before you “jump” out of bed in the morning
The practice will give you “muscle memory,” so when the real deal (POP!) comes along (and it will) you will be prepared to come on home to CENTER. That will give to you one of the best gifts of the season: Your best shot at handling the situation, whatever it may be.
Best Wishes for a Centered Holiday Season