Mindfulness Practices for the Holidays

Over the last few years I have been working on simplifying and amplifying my work and my life, focusing on what is essential to help me feel connected and whole. Part of this work has included getting to the core of what’s working and what’s not working.  What I have learned is when I truly honour what I’m feeling and allow those feelings to guide my choices, I am happier, my relationships are healthier and there is more clarity, more energy and more joy to spread around. The foundation of the work I do for myself and the work I share with others is rooted in mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a practice of growing awareness and developing presence. Why do this? Studies show that practicing mindfulness on a regular basis has a host of health benefits including helping to decrease stress, worry, pain and anxiety and improve sleep. When we are present and aware, we have more options, we move better, make better choices rather than being reactionary and our nervous system as an opportunity to help us heal. For a calmer, more relaxing holiday season I invite you to try these mindfulness practices as you go about your day.

3 Mindfulness practices for the holidays

  1. Breath: Take a minute or more to notice your breathing without trying to change your breath. Feel the inhale coming in. Feel the exhale going out. Be totally present to what each breath feels like and where you feel it the most in your body. Notice what it is that takes your attention away from your breath. (this is normal and expected. Just notice.)
  2. Body Scan: starting with your toes and working up towards your head, feel sensation in each part of the body without judgment or analysis. Some parts will be easier to feel than others. Some sensations will be stronger. Take your time and explore what is present at that moment. (add #1 afterwards if you have time).
  3. Presence: Throughout the day pause and notice sensation in your hands (palms, fingers and whole hand). Similarly notice sensation in the feet. Feel each separately, and both together. Notice how easily you can hold awareness of sensation of the hands and feet at the same time.

Have a great holiday!

Developing Your Mindfulness Practice – Part 2

IMG_1626Welcome to Part 2 of my new blog series on simple and easy ways to develop your own Mindfulness practice. In Part 1, I taught a basic breathing exercise to get you started. This week we will focus on how to do a Body Scan. If you practice yoga this might sound familiar. Sometimes yoga teachers guide students through a body scan during Savasana at the beginning or end of class.

Mindfulness Practice 2:

The Body Scan

  • Do this first thing in the morning when you wake up or before you go to sleep because you are already lying down. This can also be done sitting. It only takes a few minutes.
  • Lying down or sitting. Get comfortable. Start with a few rounds of deep breathing.
  • The body scan involves starting at your toes and working up to your head, noticing how each body part feels – relaxed, tight, tense, etc.  Start with your toes…. feet…. ankles…. shins…. knees…. thighs…. hips…. waist…. belly…. ribs…. chest…. low back…. upper back…. shoulders…. upper arms…. elbows…. forearms…. wrists….. hands….. neck…. jaw…. eyes…. forehead….. ears…. top/side/back of head. (If this is too much to start try only: feet….legs….torso….arms…hands….head)
  • When you come to an area that is tight or tense, send your breath (visualize if you need) to that area and give it permission to let go of holding onto to that tension and begin to relax for 5-10 breaths.
  • With practice you can get more specific and do one side of the body at a time including each toe and finger as an example.
  • When the body scan is complete, finish with  a few rounds of deep breathing. Check in with how you feel.

If you have a mindfulness journal  make a quick note about your experience.

Namaste,

Lindsay