From best practices to relaxation techniques and which apps to download, here are some of my best meditation tips and tools to get you through the holidays in 2020.
1. Use A Positive Affirmation Positive affirmations are like super-boosters to your mood and mindset. They take the procrastination out of the pursuit of positivity and help bring it straight into the present moment. Make your affirmation authentic to you, but make it positive, present and empowering. Let this positive affirmation be your brain's pattern-interrupt every time it tries to lead you astray as well as your personal intention. Write one to use now. "I am _______."
2. Do Some Sama Vritti Sama Vritti is a yogic breathing technique (pranayama) that means "equal movement" in Sanskrit. As the name itself indicates, Sama Vritti breathing is done by inhaling equally as long as the exhale. A four-count is a nice place to start. Begin by inhaling for four seconds, holding the breath for four seconds, and exhaling for four seconds. Repeat that as many times as you need until you've shifted your autonomic nervous system from stressed to relaxed and increased a sense of calm and stability in the mind and body.
3. Practice Gratitude Living a life full of gratitude has been scientifically proven to improve psychological health, physical health, decrease anger and aggression, enhance empathy and improve self-esteem. Sound good? It is. Finding gratitude in even the most challenging of situations takes practice, but it's totally possible. I recommend setting time for it every single day until it becomes a habit. Begin your morning by journaling out five things you're grateful for to start off on the right foot. If you're more of a night-flow person, you can make this exercise reflective and do it at the end of your day instead. Better yet, do both and watch your perspective change to a much more positive one.
4. Body Scan This is a form of mindfulness meditation that helps create a healthy mind-body connection, calms the nervous system and allows the body to soften and let go of stress. We clench and hold so much in our bodies. Functioning in this rigid, tight state not only affects us on a physical level (oftentimes leading to aches, pains, tightness and tension), but also affects our mental and emotional state. You can practice body scan from a place of meditation or throughout your day. Simply bring awareness to your body starting at the crown of your head and scanning down to your toes, softening and releasing everything along the way.
5. Gaze at Something in the Natural World Mystics call this "scrying," the Japanese call this "shinrin-yoku," Yale calls this "eco-psychology." Whatever you call it, this simple act is deeply soothing to our minds, emotions and bodies. Find something in nature (a tree, a flower, a crystal, water, fire, the sky, etc.) and just observe. Watch it with full focus and full openness. Whenever the mind wanders, bring your attention back to this object. Practice presence through nature. Check in with yourself afterwards - you're likely to feel centered, inspired and connected.
6. Feel to Heal I know, many of us were taught that feelings are weak, inconvenient and even inhibiting. We are taught to numb our emotions out with pills, with toxically positive self-talk, with doing instead of being and feeling. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior only leads to repressed emotions that drain our energy, block our flow and creep into our lives and relationships with a vengeance. The only way out is through. The only way to heal is to feel. When something comes up for you, make time to explore this feeling. Feel it. Even silently whisper, "yes" to it. Let it know it's okay that it's here and that you understand it doesn't define you. Emotions are fleeting and meant to be experienced. Find interest as you witness it in you and ask it as many questions as you'd like: "Why are you here?" "What lesson are you trying to teach me?" "How can I best assist your process?" Answers may surprise you. There are times where this simple acknowledgment fizzles the heaviness right out of you, and there are times where you may find you just need to accept the feelings there and ride them out. Both are valid, normal, healthy and necessary experiences. Feel.
My Favorite Meditation Apps + Subscriptions:
In no particular order, here are all of my favorite resources for meditation, yoga, spirituality and overall wellbeing.
1. Insight Timer Free to use with millions of meditations of all types and for all intentions. Check out my free recordings here.
2. Unplug High-quality and beautiful meditation videos with renowned teachers for any vibe you want. $12.99/month. 3. Alo Moves Yoga, fitness and meditation for all levels, time lengths, and tastes with top teachers. $20/month. 4. The Mū Membership The digital place for meditation + selfless self-care.™ Includes a meditation library that is updated weekly, bi-monthly live meditations with a Q&A, exclusive beauty, food and wellness rituals + recipes and access to two e-courses for balancing and self-care. $12/month.