(from Lee Holden)
Stress and anxiety are all too common during the holiday season! While many of us welcome the festivities that the holidays bring, the celebrations are not without their own set of challenges. Last week we discussed ways in which we can experience less stress and more energy during the season’s events. Today, we’re going to share a guided meditation to further help you let go of unwanted anxiety as the holidays quickly approach.
Of all the tools available to us, meditation is one that can deliver the most transformative results in the shortest amount of time. Lee offers many different meditations to accompany various intentions, and this one is all about letting go of stress.
Although we’re sharing this meditation during the holiday season, it’s actually a valuable practice throughout the entire year. Therefore, just remember that this is a meditation for letting go of all different kinds of stress, whether they’re caused by work, children, relationships, or the holidays.
The first part of this meditation is to purge stress from your body, and the second part is to relax your mind and body into a parasympathetic state. Per usual, we suggest that you read through the instructions once on your own before closing your eyes and beginning your meditation.
Start by positioning your body in a comfortable way. Lee suggests that you either sit in a chair or lie flat on the ground. Just listen to your body and choose the position that feels best for yourself.
Once you’re in a comfortable position, bring one hand to your chest and the other hand to your belly.
As you breathe, try to inhale through your nose, first filling up your belly, then abdomen, and finally your chest. Then, exhale through your nose, releasing the air from your chest, abdomen, and then your belly in that order.
At the bottom of your exhale (when you’re expelling the last of your breath), switch to exhaling through your mouth. As you let go of the last of your breath, imagine anything stressful leaving your body. Then, start your next breath in the way we mentioned above.
Continue taking slow, deep breaths for three minutes. Again—as you inhale, fill your belly, ribs, and then your chest. As you exhale through your nose, empty your chest, your ribs, and then your belly. Remember, at the end of each exhale let go of the last bit of air through your mouth as your purge stress from your body.
After three minutes, put your hands in your lap. If you’re laying down, let your hands lay at your sides. Continue breathing the same way, except now your entire inhale and exhale is only through your nose.
Keep taking slow, deep breaths as long as you like. Feel your parasympathetic nervous system start to take control (as opposed to your sympathetic nervous system). Once you feel deeply relaxed and at ease, take that feeling with you into the rest of your day.
Here’s a brief summary of the steps we covered:
Position yourself comfortably in a chair or lying flat on your back. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.Take slow, deep breaths through your nose. Focus on inhaling first into your belly, then your ribs, and finally into your chest. As you exhale through your nose, release the air in the reverse order—first from your chest, then from your ribs, and finally from your belly. At the end of each exhale push the air out from your mouth as you imagine stress leaving your body. After three minutes, put your hands in your lap (if you’re sitting) or by your side (if you’re laying). Continue to take full, deep breaths through your nose. Allow your body to relax into a natural, parasympathetic state. Continue breathing as long as you’d like until you’re ready to resume your day.
Applying this meditation
This is an excellent meditation to turn to whenever you’re feeling stressed or anxious. For example, if you realize you feel overwhelmed while going about your day, perhaps it’s a good idea to step away for a few minutes to practice this meditation.
Most of us accumulate stress throughout the day, so another great time to use this meditation is at the end of your day. Taking some time to do this meditation is a great way to let go of stress and anxiety before you go to sleep. Doing so also helps to ensure that you get higher quality sleep and don’t take negative energy forward into the following day.
Of course, feel free to share this meditation with anyone who you feel could benefit from experiencing less stress. At Holden Qi Gong, we hope this practice helps you to enjoy the gifts of the holidays and life as fully as possible!