Written by Marybeth Cale for Living Rhinebeck Magazine
From planning a festive gathering with friends to watching one of my favorite films (“It’s a Wonderful Life”)... or enjoying the magic of the first snowfall and hanging ornaments that have become timepieces… ‘tis the season for great joy.
However, for most… ‘tis also the season for stress, sadness, overwhelm, and/or other emotions that tend to reveal themselves in a bigger way this time of year.
While most have go-to tricks to manage the many layers of emotion and experience that come with the holiday season, I thought I’d share something that works well for me:
Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical when a college friend introduced me to meditation about 25 years ago. But it’s since become an almost-daily part of my life and has truly boosted my sense of well-being. So much so that I recently earned designation as a Certified Meditation and Mindfulness Teacher because I want to be able to share this wonderful practice with others.
It’s such an easy thing to build into your life and can be so transformative. There’s all kinds of research (scientific and anecdotal) pointing to the benefits of meditation: decreased stress levels, improved sleep, a stronger ability to respond rather than react to situations...and if that’s not enough to make you want to learn more... the list goes on!
And, like running or power-walking or watching a sunset, you can do it anytime, anywhere, and for whatever amount of time is helpful to YOU. And it’s just as relaxing, restorative, and renewing. AND… there’s no RIGHT or WRONG way to do it. You can do whatever works for YOU.
All of that said, the holiday season might be a nice time to give it a try. Below you’ll see the steps for a 5-10 minute meditation. I hope that this helps even one of you navigate this time of year with more peace of mind.
Find a quiet space.
Sit down and consider your posture. Hands should be at your sides or resting on your legs or knees. Keep your back straight and engaged; keep your chest soft and open.
Relax your muscles. Close your eyes. Settle your eyebrows, surrender your jaw, relax your neck and shoulders. Just let go.
Focus on your breath. Slowly inhale (on the count of 5) then exhale (also on the count of 5). Keep letting go and allowing yourself to move into a more relaxed state. If your mind wanders, that’s okay. Just gently bring your thoughts back to your breath.
Keep breathing in and out on the count of 5 for each inhale, 5 for each exhale. Remind yourself that it is just YOU and this MOMENT. Imagine yourself totally free of any stresses, worries, etc. Remember to keep focusing on your breath as you let go.
Once you’ve moved into a relaxed pattern of breathing, consider thinking or speaking some kind of mantra, such as: “May I be healthy. May I be content. May I live with ease.” Repeat a few times as you breathe in and out, gently and peacefully.
Then wish the same goodness for those you love: “May they be healthy. May they be content. May they live with ease.” Continue your relaxed breathing pattern throughout.
Lastly, bring it all together with “May we be healthy. May we be content. May we live with ease.”
Breathe deeply, maintaining your state of relaxation - mind, body, and spirit. When you’re ready for the last exhale of your meditation, allow a smile to spread across your face.
And when you feel ready, slowly open your eyes and reconnect with the space around you.
If you have interest in learning more about plans for online and in-person guided group meditations that I will be offering in 2022, please drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.