It is easy to get distracted during the holiday season. Nostalgia kicks in and the mind drifts to memories of the past. In the next moment it moves to the future as it wonders how this year will unfold. It compares your seasonal festivities to others on social media. It can get carried away with gift ideas, food ideas, and challenging family dynamics. Pressure to spend money, time and energy on the things that society seems to value can leave you feeling exhausted. Before you know it, the season is behind you and you are not sure quite where it went.
Rather than letting your mind focus on holiday expectations, give your family and friends, and most of all yourself, the best gift of all; your presence.
Here are some ways to bring yourself back to the now:
1. Simply Observe
Disconnect from technology and make time to simply observe what is going on around you. People watch, or go outside and watch what is happening in nature. Doing this with a loving, inquisitive heart can teach you about culture, mannerisms, customs and the natural world. Allow yourself the time to feel grateful for the environment that surrounds you.
2. Listen Attentively
When someone is talking to you, pay close attention to their tone of voice, inflection, and body language. Be mindful and inquisitive of your own reactions and body language as they are speaking to you. If you find your mind wandering as it begins to formulate a response, bring it back to the present moment and pay attention. Focus on listening rather than speaking.
3. Delight in Magic Moments
We often delight in major moments, like weddings, baby showers, and birthday parties. However, most of life’s most magical moments are little and happen every day. Staying present will help you notice these moments when they arise. It’s when your child looks you in the eye and says, “I love you.” It’s when your spouse or partner cooks dinner for you. It’s when you get a holiday card from someone you have not seen in a while. It’s catching a beautiful sunset or seeing twinkling festive lights as you drive down the road.
Staying present allows us to notice the wonder that surrounds us; the suprise, the mystery, the love, the joy. This is really what the holiday season is about.
None of this costs money, none of it causes stress. All you have to do is be mindful of staying present. It is likely you will find that when you do, others will too. There is no better gift to give and receive this holiday season than attention, gratitude, and love; the gift of presence.
Gratitude is a key way to turn negative thoughts into positive ones. Changing thought patterns through practicing gratitude can impact the physical, psychological and social aspects of a person’s well-being.
There are challenges to gratitude like narcissism, materialism and over-scheduling. Therefore, it is important to mindfully and consistently practice gratitude, much like meditation. You can practice gratitude by finding ways to verbalize, write it down, or share through social media; gratitude works best when it is shared.
Here are three ways to quickly practice the art of being grateful:
- Keep a Gratitude Journal: At the end of your day, write down at least three things that you are grateful for. This can be as simple as feeling grateful for being able to easily obtain clean water through a faucet, or for the people who take your garbage away each week (Imagine if no one came to get it!).
- Write a Gratitude Letter: Write a letter of thanks to someone who has positively impacted your life. Explain how they impacted your life-be sure to be specific and descriptive when you write. You can choose whether or not to mail the letter. Either way, you will receive the benefits of gratitude.
- Receive Gratefully: Be mindful and accepting when other people pay you compliments, or when you do something to be proud of. Recognize and accept the good feelings that result.
Practicing gratitude is essential for happiness. If you set your intentions for gratitude each day, eventually gratitude will be your attitude!
Chakras are swirling wheels of energy that are concentrated in the midline of the body, in the spinal column. These energy wheels are considered meeting points between the mind and body and are therefore an important aspect of being in balance. There are seven chakras, each representing a basic human need. When these energy centers are open, energy can move freely. This allows for basic human needs to be met with a minimum amount of effort. If the chakra centers are blocked energy cannot flow, so it becomes stationary or sluggish and intentions surrounding basic human needs cannot materialize.
Sound vibrations can be used to heal and transform. Crystal bowls are an effective way to balance and clear energy; to make energy flow. They are typically manufactured to the vibrations of specific chakras. These are the vibrational sounds of each chakra:
|1st Chakra, base of the spine
|2nd Chakra, sacral area
|3rd Chakra, navel area
|4th Chakra, heart area
|5th Chakra, throat area
|6th Chakra, between eyebrows
|7th Chakra, crown (top) of head
To learn more about what basic human needs the seven chakras represent, and to experience how the vibration of sound keeps the energy channels open, aligned and fluid, join Maribeth MacKenzie at Inlet Yoga for a Crystal Singing Bowl and Yin Yoga Workshop on Saturday, October 21, 2017. Click here to register.
As we transition from summer to fall we experience new, yet familiar, environmental sensations. The air smells different, the winds feel crisper and the days get shorter. It is a time to prepare for change and often evokes thoughts of sitting around a fire and enjoying warm, soul nourishing meals. Fall also brings a prominence of Vata. According to Ayurveda, Vata-the air element-has rough, windy, erratic, cool and light qualities.
Since fall brings feelings of change it is helpful to find stability and balance by being grounded and warm, with awareness of Vata. This is achieved by incorporating the right foods and positive lifestyle choices; by balancing your own internal environment with the environment of Mother Nature.
Vata’s airy influence can stimulate the following:
You might also experience the following mental symptoms:
-desire to be more carefree and light
If you are aware of any of these symptoms, or even if you are not, make an effort to nourish the body and mind in order to maintain balance during the fall season. This can be done by incorporating warm, substantive and nourishing cooked foods (casseroles, soups, slow cooker meals, stews, steamed or roasted vegetables). It is best to eat fruits and vegetables that are locally grown and harvested in season. Check out this Seasonal Food Guide to learn what foods are in season in your area (U.S. only).
Fall is an exciting time because it represents transition and change, which is good. Diet is something that you can control and that will help you ease into this change with a balanced mind, a strong body, and a warm heart.
To learn more about how to find awareness and balance through Ayurveda, contact Maribeth MacKenzie, Certified Chopra Center Ayurveda Perfect Health Practitioner
While it feels good to feel your energy flow with like minded individuals when practicing asana, yoga is so much more than that; yoga goes beyond the mat. An inspirational group of people can support and inspire you to keep moving forward both on and off the mat.
Here are some other reason why having a yoga community is important:
-Sharing support, comfort and inspiration with other like-minded people with similar goals helps you grow internally
-You get the opportunity to do the work of a yogi and treat others with respect and kindness
-Knowing you are not alone will help keep you coming back to the mat with gratitude
-The more you practice all the realms of yoga, the closer you come to your ultimate happiness
-Your yogi friends are there to cheer you on when you are tired, inspire you when you feel stuck, and introduce new ideas for inspiration
Come and “be” with your Inlet Yoga community in sangha (the coming together of community) at a Potluck Picnic at North Litchfield Beach, access #51 on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 from 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm. Click here for more information.