In the past 24 hours I have heard two friends complain about the increasing pressure they are feeling around getting everything done during the holiday season. Sometimes the stresses and intensity of the Christmas season result in us feeling overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of everything we have to do: gifts to buy, food to prepare, events to attend, friends to connect; time seems to contract and we can become uncentered and almost paralyzed by all the small decisions we have to make. So here is a simple coping mechanism that takes of all of 26 seconds and involves focusing on five specific breaths. It can help you cope with all those little decisons that this time of year brings. This is a simple practice developed by the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh and can really help to relax the body, calm the mind and create increased clarity.
Take a Deep Breath and as you inhale reflect on the word “In”
Exhale and reflect on the word ‘Out”
Take a second breath and inhale to “Deep”
Exhale to “Slow”
The third in-breath is Calm
The out-breath is “Ease”
Then inhale to “Smile”
Exhale to “Release”
Finally breathe in to “Present Moment”
Breathe out to “Wonderful Moment”
A total of five breaths is often all it takes to shift from a state of excitable agitation to calm clarity, an excellent use of 26 seconds. Try it standing in an irritating line-up or sitting in unwelcome traffic, you may be surprised at the result.