Begin a meditation practice to deal with Holiday Stress

As a young girl, I suffered from regular migraines. The smallest sounds amplified themselves within my head. The smallest sliver of light seemingly intensified in front of my face and I would often vomit. It was super intense and no one around me seemed to be able to help.

 The only way I could find peace was to visualize myself in a forest or on a beach, at six years old I taught myself guided visualization and meditation. I have also been practicing yoga seriously since mychildhood, although I did not know what the poses were.  

Meditation was always something I knew I had to “get to“ but it was last of the longlist of things to do.  I knew I needed to but somehow continued to resist. Sitting still has never been my forte.  In 2012 a good friend and colleague told me about Transcendental Meditation (TM)  she swore by it and claimed it helped her finish her latest book, a New York Times best seller. 

She said, “people like us are impulsive, impatient and irritable.“  I'm guiltyas charged:  I am a type-A New Yorker, who despite years of yoga suffers from constant doing, over scheduling, ADD, OCD and too much enthusiasm for too many things, people and places.

I intuitively knew I had to commit to a meditation practice.  Ironically enough, I remember my mother doing TM in the late 70’s; but she quickly stopped as she said it “slowed her down too much.”

The next week Idid the training. It was love at first try.  I watched myselfleaving parties to mediate, avoiding wine at social functions so I could first meditate, excusing myself from meetings to go meditate and return.  I can truly say a regular meditation practice has changed my life. Despite running a yoga business, my life is very stressful: constant travel, businesses in multiple countries constant focus on the working of a business,  and managing some side businesses and family obligations. 

Your meditation practice canbecome your“vacation “and yourespite. It gives youthe space to reengage.

Try doing itanywhere from 4-7 pm for 10-20minutes so you can recharge for an evening of business or social obligations.  

I don’t know if I would be able to manage my life without meditation and urge you to give it a try so excited to share meditation with you. 

So give yourself permission to be a beginner, and know that with practice your ability to concentrate will improve. Eventually, you will find that during your meditation practice you will have the exWith enough practice, you’ll find that you could meditate in a noisy airport or on a busy street corner without becoming distracted whatsoever. 

Best Way to Start: Grab a mantra you like and repeat it out loud for 2 minutes than bring it inside repeating it to yourself silently for 8 minutes.  I like a lot of the chants from Snatum Kaur( Ra Ma Da Sa ) or a simple SAT NAM or OM. Work up to twenty minutes twice a day, meditation is like a muscle that will get stronger over time, you just need to work t out on a regular basis.

This time of year is a time to be thankful and joyous, however, it can also push people’s buttons. Here are a few things I practice to get me into the New Year:

Here are some other tips you can use during the holiday season to deal with stress:

1.      Shorten your workouts and increase their frequency.  Since cortisol levels are raised if your workout lasts longer than 30-45 minutes. No one needs more of this stress hormone, so keep your workouts under 40 minutes of continuous movement.  I literally set an alarm when I go to the gym and stop at 45 minutes, as hard as that is.

2.      Make time for meditation. If you are used to a longer workout, take that extra 10-20 minutes once a day to clear your mind. I like to practice a mantra based meditation or take a break with a guided meditation. Often times the guided meditation will put me to sleep, but I’m happy to know that it is permeating my subconscious anyway.

3.      Volunteer. This may sound counterproductive since you’re so busy to begin with, but giving at least an hour of your time a week will help take the pressure off of you and give you an external focus. Studies have shown the happiest people have a sense of purpose. There is an animal shelter around the corner from my home in NYC and I plan to walk dogs during the month of December and beyond.

4.      Clean up your diet before the New Year. Consider limiting your alcohol and sugar intake down, even by 10%. For example, only indulge 3 days a week if you are currently at 5. Alcohol is a depressant and excess drinking this time of the year can leave you despondent. I had a therapist that once said “If I were to write a PRESCRIPTION for depression- I would write “Alcohol” on the pad.

5.      Write your thoughts in a bubble. We have 60,000 thoughts a day; If you have one that seems nagging or persistent, write it in a journal as a thought bubble and see that it is merely a thought. Remember there is a difference between thoughts and intuition.

With practice, intention, patience, and a sense of humor you CAN thrive and step into the New Year a better version of yourself.

With gratitude. Love and light.

Beth Shaw