Carol Richardson M.Div., M.P.H.
Here are some practices which can help you do both:
Practicing gratitude during the holidays is more important than ever, because of the stress of trying to get everything done for everybody. If we stop and think about it, though, what we are actually trying to express through our actions is love and appreciation for the people in our lives.
So, why not take time before we begin our day to think of all the people who will be part of our day and our holidays, by spending a moment feeling grateful for them, even if what they bring us are challenges that help us to grow. By taking a few moments to acknowledge several things for which we are grateful, and for why we appreciate the people in our lives, we can shift our own energy to a positive state of being, and we can take that positivity into our day and share it.
Before we get ourselves busy in the morning, it is good to breathe deeply, allowing ourselves fully to oxygenate ourselves, clear our sinuses, and feel energized for our day. Throughout the day, when we feel tense or tired, deep breathing, especially coupled with gratitude, can release tension, increase our positive energy, and relax us.
While deep breathing, it helps if we notice where the tension may be found in our bodies, and allow it to release. We may take time to notice what our bodies need, and honor our bodies. We may notice our own attitudes, and realize that we can choose a new, more positive attitude if we need to. We may notice our feelings, and what we would like to receive for ourselves. We may notice what others actually need from us, and realize that our highest consciousness truly does seek to be there for others, even if we don't feel like it in this moment.
Stretching our bodies gets our blood and our lymph system flowing, which reduces the stagnation of our biochemical makeup, promoting the healthful movement of chemicals (healthful and toxic, endogenous and exogenous) to where they are most beneficial. Stretching also releases the chi, or prana, or life force of our bodies to flow throughout our chakra system, along our energy meridians, and throughout our bodies, to energize each cell and each area of the body.
A variety of ways exist to center oneself. One simple technique that can be done virtually anytime, anywhere, even in a crowd, is to be aware of one's feet touching the ground. If we are standing, focusing on our feet can help us be aware that the earth is literally holding us up, and therefore we are metaphorically supported at all times. If we are sitting, touching our feet to the floor and being aware that we are connected to something larger than ourselves that supports us and everyone else can invite us to feel connected, and entitled to be "in our own space/in our own bodies." From awareness of our feet, and awareness of being in our own bodies, we can spread our awareness to the ground, and around us to the earth, to which we are connected, and of which we are a part.
Breathing while being aware of one's feet being supported by the earth can also help us be grateful for the very air we breathe, and the very gift of life. We are a unique part of that life, as valuable and precious as any other part of this earth and this life, and this human community.
If centering through our feet is physiologically not practical for us, we may be aware of our hands or other parts of our body connecting with whatever is around us or supporting us. Again, let us be aware that we are part of this vast network of life on earth, and that we are unique, and as equally valuable upon this earth as every other being.
All are interconnected in the web of life. Wind and breath and earth are giving us life this day, allowing us to express who we are, and to be the self we seek to be in each and every moment. Being our most centered selves in each moment is a choice, and that choice is empowered by acceptance of what is external to us, and remaining centered in our own presence within.
Carol Richardson M.Div., M.P.H., combines wisdom and training from both East and West, and focuses on wellness in mind, body, and soul. She specializes in Reiki Energy Healing, Intuitive Life Coaching, Hypnotherapy, and Raja Yoga Meditation. She is the author of Exodus 2012: A Mission to Save the Earth and Aging Well~Be Your Best Self Forever!