December is a month of many celebrations. The one celebration that holds a special place in my heart is Winter Solstice. It is this celebration that has, year after year, deepened my connection to the Earth as a glorious planet that is enveloped in a beautiful and mysterious sea of space and stars. Out beyond the immediate sea of stars is the universe in full.
The fact that my mind simply can’t comprehend it all is in itself a reason to celebrate! When I begin to feel that slight sense of overwhelm in the crowds from too much to do to make the holidays shine, I find special spots in nature that nurture me back to center.
One such place I visited last year was Spirit Rock, an absolutely stunning sanctuary of barren rolling hills on one side and forested hills filled with redwoods on the other. Spirit Rock is also a Buddhist retreat center. The quiet and peace of the land transcends all the hustle and bustle. Making the time for a meditation or for a hike there in December restores balance and brightens my spirit.
Stay centered and vital this holiday season by making special occasions to retreat from it all for 20 minutes to an hour. What you will have to contribute from your nurtured sense of wellbeing to others will be worth the few minutes here and there! You will notice an increase in positive mood, find yourself able to enliven holiday tasks, strengthen your immune system and boost your ability to smile radiantly.
Here are my top 6 recommendations:
Instead of meeting your holiday friends for a hot chocolate indoors, get it to go and take a wintry walk together somewhere peaceful. Devote some of your time together to walking in silence, observing and connecting with the stillness in nature. While you are there, spend a little time exploring in nature collecting beautiful objects to add to your gifts.
Give yourself an extra hour before or after your holiday shopping to visit the ocean, a nearby walking trail or drive into the mountains where you can reset before rushing off to the parties.
Watch out for increasing your caffeine intake! It’s super easy to fall back on caffeine and sugar to boost you when sleep is low and time is tight. Yet the cycle of boosting and dropping energy levels can set you up for adrenal fatigue that you have to struggle with for the rest of the year.
Add 20 minutes of stimulating exercise to your day to perk you up. Remember jumping jacks? Get your whole body moving and add some kind of jumping or bouncing into the experience – as long as it feels comfortable – for one version of a full body hello.
Try breathing exercises like the ones Dr. Andrew Weil provides in his CD, Breathing, the Master Key To Self Healing. There is simply not enough good stuff I can say about breathing exercises to relax the body, calm the mind and provide a balancing shift to the nervous system. When done repeatedly, breathing exercises can cleanse your system and literally breath new life into you, waking you up. This makes a great stocking stuffer, too, by the way.
Try presence meditation for 15 minutes. You can do this almost anywhere.