Okay guys. Here’s the thing.
The holiday crazies didn’t really hit me until today.
I successfully avoided the long lines and aggressive “me-first” vibes of the mall on Black Friday by doing the majority of my shopping in one giant order online. (Side note: If you’re looking for unique and fun gift ideas, hit up Uncommon Goods. They’re awesome. They even have a “gift finder” function for people like me who struggle with gift ideas. Anyway.)
I passively enjoyed the Mariah Carey sounds coming from the speakers at Trader Joe’s and actively enjoyed the new Starbucks holiday cup designs. (Sometimes joy comes from the little things, you know?)
I sang in three Christmas concerts over the weekend and, despite it being a tiring series of long rehearsal and performance days, the main emotion I experienced was gratitude to be surrounded by great music and wonderful friends.
Overall, I was feeling pretty spirited and upbeat without taking much notice of the anxiety, depression, and general chaos that so many people grapple with during the holidays.
That was, until this morning, when I entered my usually quiet local Post Office and was greeted by a rather disturbing scene.
First, there was the line out the door.
Okay, whatever. I can deal with that. I have time.
Then, there were the sounds of an agitated postal employee whose chosen method of calming himself was singing Christmas songs at the top of his lungs in between helping customers.
Okay, weird, but whatever floats your boat, dude.
Next, there was the man who forgot to have his tracking number printed out, and decided to tackle this quandary by cutting the line, shouting at all three employees, and angrily calling his wife whilst still standing at the front of the entire line of disconcerted patrons.
Yikes. I started feel the negative energy of the scene around me and the discomfort of the other customers creep into my aura as an unwelcome guest.
And just like that, my sparkly vision of the holiday season came crashing down around me and I realized just how much craziness, impatience, and discomfort the world is experiencing right now.
I was hit with the understanding that humanity as a whole is more than a little off balance these days. The generally disconnected, divided, and discordant state of humanity seems to be placed under a magnifying glass during the holidays, and the result is not pretty.
The irony of it all is that, at its core, the holiday season is about peace, reverence, and shared humanity. The themes of this time of year do not have to be specific to any one faith or cultural tradition, as their similarities are greater than their differences. Each historic tale celebrated in the year’s latter months is anchored in hope. Joy. Triumph. Anticipation of good things to come.
We are a world starved for the peace of those stories. We are a world desperate for that joy.
We are a world yearning for that love. But we won’t find what we’re looking for if we continue mindlessly indulging in the chaos of daily life.
I think our biggest hindrance is that we are under the impression that peace, joy, and love are found externally. We blindly scrape for them outside of ourselves instead of taking the tender journey inward.
But peace, joy, and love come from within.
We must go inward to find the peace and love that lie eternally and unchangeably within our souls. Because without tapping into that quiet place inside, we have no means of bringing it to the world outside. We do not have the tools to heal the world unless we first heal ourselves.
With these sentiments in my heart, and in an effort to bring our world a little closer to peace this holiday season, I have created three meditations to help you reset, de-stress, and reconnect with your soul. My intention is to remind you of your inner peace, joy, and love over the course of the next few weeks so that you can bring the highest version of yourself to your loved ones and to the world.
This first meditation is for the moments when you feel burdened, anxious, or starved for peace. It will remind you that what you are searching for was inside you all along, and that you can return to it at anytime. Enjoy, sweet one.
Meditation #1: Return to the Peace of the Soul
Target: This meditation will help you to reconnect with that ever-present but seemingly elusive place inside your heart that is quiet, peaceful, and aligned. Practice this meditation when you are feeling unbalanced, out of touch, or disconnected from your Highest Self.
Setting Up: Find yourself in a comfortable cross-legged position. I like to place a pillow behind me so that I don’t have to worry about back, shoulder, or neck tension distracting me from my meditation. For added coziness, I wrap myself in a blanket and place a second blanket in my lap. Being bundled up makes me feel like I’m in my own personal nest, safe from external distractions.
Once you are settled, close your eyes and begin to bring your focus inward. Notice what sensations your body is experiencing without identifying with those sensations. For example, if you are feeling jittery and anxious, lovingly say to yourself “I am experiencing anxiety.” By framing anxiety as an experience rather than a part of your identity (i.e. “I have anxiety,”) you acknowledge that it is not permanent, but simply your body’s response to over-stimulation.
After you have scanned your body and taken non-judgmental notice of what it is experiencing, draw your attention to your breath. Observe its quality and length. Gradually begin to regulate your breathing to inhale for a count of 5, hold briefly, and exhale for a count of 8. Don’t get too caught up in counting seconds, but focus on tapping into a healing, relaxing breath in which your exhale is slightly longer than your inhale.