Here we go; December is right around the corner!  Time to add more go, go, go to your already busy life.  The pressure to get it all wrapped up, literally, by the time the family comes together to celebrate.  But, what if I told you that it doesn’t have to be that way?  You can still get it all accomplished without the internal panic, and with possibly a bit of joy and serenity.

Here’s the trick – you have to know what helps bring you to calm.  Take a moment and ponder when the last time was that you felt calm?  What were you doing at that moment?  Who were you with? Perhaps you were alone?  What was happening in your day to let you go to that place of peace within? See if you can reflect on that time, and allow yourself to recreate that sense of calm within your body. Notice how your attention shifts internally; allowing your outside pressures to take a back seat.  Likely your breath has deepened, and you are feeling the air filling your lungs more completely.  That frantic energy racing within you may have finally pumped its brakes.  You might even find that your tension through your neck and shoulders has eased a bit.

While, for many of us, Zen time with our favorite hobby or passion can often bring us to this internal space, there are indeed universal tricks that can have an impact on all of us.  Our body reacts to what our mind tells it is real.  That’s why you can get chills just thinking about something, or have the hair on the back of your neck can stand up when your mind tells it to be afraid.  So, logically, when we adjust our mindset, we adjust our calm, but that can take significant time!  So, how do we find calm before the snow arrives?

I often lead my clients through guided meditations, where we focus on their breathing.  Yes, mindset encourages long lasting calm, but if we can affect the physiology of the body, we can change the thoughts racing your mind, and thus, create a feeling of calm.

I suggest putting your feet up on a chair with your knees bent, flattening your lower back to the floor, and placing your hands, palm up, next to you.  If you experience low back tension, simply flattening your back to the floor, in this position, will help elongate those taut muscles.  From here, you can begin to focus on your breath.  Now, you might find your mind racing, so I suggest imagining a ship sailing away with these thoughts in tow; promising yourself that they will all be at the dock when you are ready to address them.  In massage school we learned three-dimensional breathing.  Essentially, it is a three part breath.  The first part of your inhale raises your stomach, the second part pushes your kidneys, or mid-back, deeply into the floor, the third raises your chest.  The idea is to take a deep breath and move it through all three areas, really stretching out your torso muscles.  When we focus on our breath we are letting go of the external pressures around us, and offering our attention to our life within.  Breath is a key component to calming our mind and our body.  As you exhale, think about clearing your lungs and your body of all its air, so that each inhale is cleansing you.  Each exhale is pushing out your pain, or your stress, or your anxiety, and when you inhale, you are replacing it with what you are choosing for your life.  Try to stay in this position for ten minutes, offering your mind to gently fall quiet as you return your focus to your breath.  Don’t try to stop your thoughts, just simply put them on your mind’s ship and sail them away for later.  The more you focus on stopping them, the more attention you are ultimately giving them.  Just quietly return your focus to your breathing.  Three parts – in, in, in – deeply, and then a long out.

After ten minutes of this you will have likely soothed your physiology and thus calmed that internal panic, returning you to your calmed mind.  Another tip is to remember, that while you may not always be able to kick your feet up while in the aisles of a busy shopping center, you can always focus on your breath.

You are always choosing how your experiences impact you, so choose what makes you the most fulfilled.  Breath is life, as I see it, and focusing on that life force can always help re-ground us, soothe our bodies, and ease our minds.

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