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BE: Keep Calm and Meditate On

The holidays are coming! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but if you are a person who keeps the ship afloat in your household, you probably cannot wait for January 2nd to arrive. We get it.

Here is a list of thoughts we imagine racing through your mind right now, if you’re hosting or have people coming to visit you:

  • "I cannot believe crazy Aunt Edith is coming into town. If she asks me one more time about losing the baby weight, I’m going to leap over the table."
  • "I forgot to get a ham! I hope everyone is okay with week old slices of deli meat."
  • "I should just sleep in the kitchen."
  • "Are these bacon flavored candles? WHY is this dog eating the candles out of the menorah?!"
  • "Did I ever get Santa those lists?"
  • "Was that the angel falling off the tree again? I didn’t know our CAT WAS PART MONKEY. "
  • "I really do not feel like attending the squadron holiday party, maybe I’ll be “sick” that day."

If you’re traveling for the holidays, here’s what you might be thinking:

  • "Did I check into my flight?"
  • "Well I guess the dog can take care of himself for a few days…since I FORGOT TO BOARD HIM."
  • "Am I going to be that parent whose kid starts crying 10,000 feet? And doesn’t stop until the wheels are back on the ground?"
  • "Did I check into my flight? Wait, yes I did."
  • "I know I’m forgetting something."

Have you had any of those thoughts or all of them? Let us introduce you to meditation. Meditation is a resource used to quiet mind chatter and make space for you to be present and enjoy the holidays.

Meditation is not a religious practice. It is, however, an ancient practice, in that people have been meditating for thousands of years. Some research suggests benefits can include reducing blood pressure, anxiety, and symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (NCCIH, 2015).

It might seem like an underwhelming activity to clear your thoughts and become mindful. But, we are in the age of information overload, and that constant input and processing might be contributing to your stress. Think of meditating like re-starting your phone: when you’re trying to access your favorite app, and your phone decides to flat-line? Your natural response might be to throw it on the ground and laugh as it shatters into 489 pieces, but then you regain your composure and turn it off and on again. And then it’s as good as new, it works better than before. That is the power of meditation.

Feel like meditating amidst the holiday chaos? (Pro Tip: Do not meditate during meals, otherwise someone might snag the last piece of pie while you’re getting into your zen). It’s simple: Come into a comfortable seat. Prepare by taking a few deep breaths, slowing down inhales and exhales to a three-to-five-second rhythm. Notice the feeling of the air rushing into your nose and exiting out the mouth. Then seal the lips and continue with the slow breath, inhales and exhales solely through the nose. Try and notice the body, and the sensation of your hands on your knees, pressed against each other, your weight into the floor. Push out any extra thought that might try and enter. Better yet, if the thought enters, don’t dwell on it, but objectively observe it, like a new person has just entered the room. Before you know it, a new sense of calm will wash over you.

Visit the Mind Body Medicine clinic at NMCSD, or click here for some more guided meditations, available to stream or download. Have a happy holiday!!