The holiday season commences next week! I know, I was surprised, too. Thanksgiving is a time to spend with loved ones, friends and family. Despite the holidays being a joyous time many people report increased stress and anxiety from juggling an increase in obligations and events. Below are some quick and easy meditations you can practice during the holidays to stay even keeled and calm. Meditation is a practice and is most most effective when practiced daily. But feel free to step away from the turkey dinner for 5 minutes and breath.
Whenever possible, walk in a place where you are making a connection with nature. Focus your attention on your breath as you start to walk, noticing where your breath is in your body, and then taking that breath deeper into your lungs. Next, bring awareness to your body by taking notice of your feet making contact with the earth. Pay attention to how the breeze feels on your skin. Now listen, look around you, and observe everything that you see. The simple act of stopping to take notice of everything around you will keep your attention grounded in the present.
This form of meditation is exactly what it sounds like, making a hum in the back of the throat with one single note (like a chant of “Om”). Fill the throat and neck with the hum. This is a gentle vibration and will help to relax tight neck and shoulders. Then concentrate on extending the hum up into the top of your head. With each subsequent breath, allow the hum to move down the body, filling your body one area at a time. Take a few breaths to notice the hum vibration gently oscillating your body, and the relaxing effect that this has. If you’re still not relaxed after doing this exercise all the way through, then try changing the “color” of the hum: filling your body with a cool color (blue, green, purple) in the same way that you did the hum.
Throughout this meditation, hold the tip of your tongue against the back of your teeth, where your teeth meet your gums. Begin by exhaling sharply through your mouth, then inhale through your nose while counting to 4. Hold your breath to a count of 7, then exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. This is one cycle of the meditation. Repeat this for 4 cycles, inhaling again to a count of 4, holding for 7, and exhaling for 8. It’s best to repeat this meditation at least twice a day, but you can do it as many times as you’d like. It’s especially great for when you find yourself in stressful situations, or sitting in traffic.
Meditation of 100 Breaths
The goal of this meditation is to give your brain something else to do, while you relax and breathe. You can do this sitting or lying down, and, taking full, deep breaths, count 1 for each breath until you reach 100. You can set goals for yourself, such as, “Today I’ll take 10 breaths.” And when you reach 10, you can decide whether you’d like to continue beyond that. The next day maybe you’ll decide to count 15 or 20 breaths. You can also begin counting your breaths in bed at night, and see how high you can count before falling asleep.