If, like me, you have found that the holiday we’ve just had, encouraged you to skip your meditation and other routines that help you feel stable and secure (the coming Christmas period may do the same thing) there’s no need to panic! Just follow these simple tips to either get you back in the swing of things or to keep you going until the opportunity to resume your normal schedule is available.
1. Look around – take in what you can see around you focusing on what’s happening right now. I find that skipping my stabilising routine blinds me – I’m running around like a headless chicken so focused on what’s under my nose that the bigger picture has long disappeared. So taking a moment to remove the metaphorical blindfold that busyness demands from us can come from just using our eyes – literally taking them off the screen in front of you and look around the room and through the window to outside and hey presto, perspective may come!
2. Notice your thinking right now. Particularly notice if you’ve been rehearsing a past conversation; focusing on someone’s mistake or other past incident. Or if you’re firmly focused on what’s happening next – rehearsing a future event, planning, longing and hoping, perhaps imagining a scenario over and over again. Our minds are mostly in the future and past but in a single moment, just noticing that will bring you back to the present moment. If you notice you feel a bit depressed (past focused thinking induces this) or anxious (you’re stuck in the future focused on what might happen) then remind yourself what is actually happening right here right now! If you find during a meditation moment that you’ve wondered off into some past or future place, it’s time to celebrate! The noticing is a sign that you are awake and aware. We’ll never lose all our wandering thought patterns but the more we notice that, the more present we are becoming…
3. Focus on the breath. This will help bring you back to the present time. It will also bring vital oxygen to your lungs which will offer vital energy to all your systems. Really soften the belly as you exhale. Those who tend toward worry will often hold a secret squeeze in the belly area which can restrict breathing as well as increase tension and anxiety which we often hold in the gut.
4. Release your jaw! We often hold tension around the face. If no one is looking, open your mouth wide, move your lower jaw from side to side, then circle clockwise and anticlockwise. Notice clicks and grinds!
5. Gently release tight neck and shoulders. All that past and future focused mind chatter settles itself easily in the neck and shoulders so shrug it off with a few shoulder shrugs and circles and with some slow neck stretches such as looking over to the far right and slowly over to the left then releasing ear to shoulder one at a time then rolling the chin around an imaginary scoop neckline. Notice the clicks, cracks and grinding noises that are released in these movements.
6. Clench your butt! This one is for you particularly if you are feeling frustrated or angry and need some time out from those crushing thoughts! Sitting or standing, take the opportunity to release those huge glute muscles which often hold a lot of tension. Add breath awareness, exhaling as you slowly and mindfully release a buttock squeeze and feel the relaxation flood your body.