Breathing Thru The Holidays
By Mike Bennett Kripalu Yoga Teacher
The holidays can be a very stressful time for some. Whether it is dealing with long lines in packed malls, family conflicts, financial worries, many people report feelings of anxiety or sadness known as the “Holiday Blues” during the holiday season. Whatever the source of stress, the means to properly cope with stress is
within each and every one of us. Every breath we take is an opportunity to start over and take control of our reactions to stressful events.
Every being innately craves to be happy, healthy and loved. There is nothing more valuable than true joy and happiness. Living in a chaotic and stress driven society is difficult, survival is based on our ability to cope with the stresses of life. Going through storms in life is a lot like surfing a wave, it builds, it peaks, but like everything else in life it always comes to an end. Just like surfing, riding the waves of emotion require practice to master.
Difficult and stressful situations arise for everyone and it is normal to deal with. Everyone experiences pain and stress at one time or another and we all have habits as to how we deal with them both negative and positive.
The first step to being able to successfully ride the wave of emotion this holiday season is the ability to recognize the events or situations that cause stress. Self -study and being able to notice things from within is a major key in yoga and life an immensely powerful tool. Notice the situations that cause the stress response to rise and bring attention to your breath.
Breath is the quickest most tangible way to influence the nervous system and the body’s physical response to stress. Taking a deep, full breath that inflates your belly, ribs, and lifts your collar bone; followed by an equally deep exhale until your lungs are empty several times interrupts the cycle of thoughts racing through the mind. Through deep yogic breathing the body switches from the fight or flight response to reassuring your inner voice that everything is okay. The effects of stress may momentarily be felt more intensely but like everything else in life it will pass. Keep breathing — it is not getting worse, your attention is just being drawn into the present moment. Keep going.
The next step is to consciously relax the body, scanning through the body and finding areas that feel tight. Typically the jaw, neck,fists, belly, calves and getting them to soften, relax, let go. Full yogic breath helps the muscles relax and supports relaxation. Again, emotions and sensations may seem more intense. But keep breathing and softening
Actively feeling means turning our attention minutely toward the present moment without judgments and learning to be with things as they are. By directing attention actively toward the sensations in the body, the energy, and the emotions. We “breathe into them,” as if we could send the breath right into the center of the experience. By actively feeling, we develop our awareness so that we can begin to feel the whole range of sensations and emotions in the body.
Kripalu Yoga often speaks of the witness — the part of you that’s always watching from the director’s chair of your consciousness. In Western psychology, this part of the mind is sometimes called “the observing ego.” The “witness” is the part of the self without judgment that can be present with an experience without being absorbed by it. Direct attention into it, observe your thoughts and emotions without critiquing. As we become focused on “the witness,” we are free both to participate in and to stand apart from our experience. Realize that you are a boundless powerful ocean and infinite being of grace connected to a vast universe of love. It’s important to remember that the witness is also the director of the experience, remaining unidentified with “the problem” and is able to coach us to stay connected with the breath.
The final step is to allow the process to happen. Let go of control. When we don’t try to control our experience, we’re free to surrender to the waves of sensation, of feeling, and of energy. In these moments of freedom, we relinquish our resistance and allow ourselves to surrender, to let go of our tight hold on life and allow change to happen.We discover we can trust life.
As we become more experienced with breathing through stress, we learn to trust that the power to overcome stress is within us and only takes a breath. Every breath we take is an opportunity to start over.
The next time you are confronted with a stressful situation this holiday season, give this technique a try.
I’ll bet that once you’ve tried it, you’ll find yourself using it more and more.
Follow me on
Facebook @TheNewAgeUrbanMonk and @Mike Bennett
Instagram @TheNewAgeUrbanMonk and @MikeRBennett
Twitter @TheNewUrbanMonk and @MikeRBennett
Leave your Questions, Comments and Suggestions of what you would like to see more of below