It’s no surprise that this is the season where many of us may carry around a little more tension, whether were conscious of this added pressure or not. The Newark Center for Meditative Culture (NCMC) offers this gentle reminder that “peace of mind” is the gift we can give to ourselves at any time. Today we’re sharing a few best practices to aid you in navigating the year’s end, enabling you to show up for yourself and others fully present.
1) PAUSE: Take a moment to see how it feels to simply give yourself space to pause in the present moment. Close your eyes and relax into the stillness of the ever present now.
2) BREATHE: The simple act of taking a deep breath can calm you down and lower your heart rate. Try this: Take a deep breath in through your nose for 3 counts, hold it for 3 counts, and then exhale through your mouth for 3 counts. The goal is to exhale a little longer than you inhale to reap the benefits.
3) FEEL: Can you feel your physical body? How does it feel right now? What does your face feel like? Your jaw? Your neck and shoulders? Does your body feel hot or cold? Are you aware of tension or ease? Can you feel your feet on the floor? The weight of your body in a chair? Take a moment to ground and anchor yourself into the physical sensations you feel in your body.
4) CARE: Experiment with offering yourself some kindness and compassion right now, just as you would to a dear friend. You can give yourself a compliment, say a few supporting phrases, or even place a hand on your heart or abdomen for a few moments to send warmth to your body.
5) GIVE: Can you find an opportunity to give a gift, volunteer your time, or do something thoughtful and surprising for someone else? No matter how you give back, you will benefit by generating positive emotions for yourself while in the process of helping others. Acts of service can also help us find meaning in our own lives and gain perspective on our purpose, gifts and talents.
6) PRIORITIZE: Is there too much on your plate right now? Is there some way you can cut back and prioritize your to-do list to bring some ease into your life? Now is not the time to see how many places you can be in at once or to find out if you can keep everyone happy. (Spoiler Alert: The answers are “Only one “ and “No.”)
7) GRATITUDE: Expressing gratitude for things doesn’t magically make everything better, but it does help decrease stress by reminding us about all that is going right. Before you go to bed, try writing down 5 things you were thankful for during the day.
Feel free to be creative. No matter how big or small, there is always something to be grateful for.
8) JOURNAL: Often there is so much information swimming around in our heads that we bring on undue stress and anxiety. Try taking a few minutes each day to write down whatever comes to mind. Just the act of putting thoughts on paper can help clear your mind and decrease stress levels. After you’ve written about it, decide what you want to do with the information next. Would turning it into a to-do list be helpful? Or did you just need to get some things out of your head and off your chest?
9) SELF-CARE: Is there something you could do now that would instantly bring you joy? Pick out a few self-care activities you can easily do without much effort. Then try to carve out time every week for some of your favorite things. Whatever the activities may be, practice them regularly and don’t let yourself feel guilty for taking care of you!
These are just a few simple ways to usher in some peace and joy. Remember, it’s important to be gentle with yourself and others during any time of stress. While there’s no quick fix for eliminating stress entirely, there are things you can do to help manage it and mitigate its effects.
As a bonus, please enjoy this meditation by NCMC Spiritual Director Ib’Nallah Kazi.
NCMC sends you lots of love today and always, and we can’t wait to see you in the new year at any of our upcoming programs.
May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be free from inner and outer harm. May you care for yourself joyfully.