The Holiday Season is HERE!
For many, this season highlights painful realities and losses. Here are three effective strategies to start practicing now if holidays bring a feeling of dread with the festivities:
Move, Breathe, and Hold Space.
Move. Research shows that our bodies hold memories. A special fragrance, for example, triggers your olfactory memory. Similarly, events that are unpleasant will trigger bodily responses: tight chest, fear, stomach pain, tense muscles in the back, neck and shoulders. Body-aware exercise such as yoga and pilates, are well known for wellness and relaxation, and recent research shows it may be very beneficial in activating our bodies natural chemistry to relieve feelings of depression. I’ve worked out at PilatesBody LLC in Gig Harbor since my back surgery to both treat and prevent back and leg pain. The combination of breath work and mind-body connection required in Pilates is both meditative and a great workout and was an important anchor as I worked through a year of grief after my mom died.
You don’t have to have access to a Pilates studio to get benefits from the body awareness exercise. Here are some pilates exercises to do at your desk at work.
Breathe! We are made to breathe deeply, to bring in oxygen to our blood and every cellular powerhouse in our body. Every deep breath of fresh air you take is doing your body and mind a favor.
Here is a simple technique to breath work I’ve found that can be done all day long: thinking of a heart line from the center of your chest, pointing straight up. In order to do this, your shoulders need to be back, head held high, back straight (either sitting or standing). Check your posture, and imagine that you are receiving a divine download to your heart straight from the Source of Divine Love. Breathe in through your nose as if you are trying to expand your lungs against your back and down into your mid-body. Feel your rib cage expand. Then blow the breath out with pressure through your mouth. Do this for a minute. Then, take note of how it makes you feel.
If you are interested in a great app to help you practice filling your lungs to full capacity, try the Pranayama app from saagara.com. It is an awesome tool to help in falling asleep.
Hold Space. The art of holding space is part of a practice of making a “safe container” in time and space for someone to simply be with them, available, observing, not judging or “fixing.” It’s a way of bravely walking out the journey with another, not knowing the direction of the path at all times, but willing to be with them in an open, accepting, way.
The very best teaching I found on this topic goes far beyond what I can write here. I invite you to listen to the digital audio by James Finley called “Transforming Trauma: Seven Steps of Spiritual Healing." It is in the contemplative wisdom tradition, and the concept of finding our inner Divine space of Love from where we can learn to trust our own spiritual and intuitive insights makes it worth the price (about $70.00 for 9 hours of audio teaching). I’m on my third journey through this audio set and learn something new every time.
Ultimately, our paths on our way through grief trains us to be elders in this world for the healing of others and the healing of the planet. This is hard work, AND it is essential work.
If you find yourself needing a guide to get through this season, book a consultation here