Staying Centred This Festive Season
“If you’re really serious about making it through the festive in one unharrowed whole then you’ll probably want to take things a step further”
The break from routine is a welcome one this time of year, however it can often mean that we lose sight of ourselves in the process. 99FM’s MYD Heart spoke to Melissa Mukaiwa, the Meditation Maverick & Peak Performance Coach, to find out how to stay centred this festive season so as to welcome in the New Year in a way that will carry us towards what we wish to achieve. Melissa prepared piece to help us keep our peace of mind in tack this festive season.
Meditation Tips at this time of year – Staying Centred over the Festive Season by Melissa Mukaiwa
When we think about the holidays most people tend to imagine themselves stretched out on a hammock sipping coconuts on a beach somewhere, but in reality things generally end up being considerably less glamorous.
Instead of deadlines at work, office politics and combustible egos, our daily stresses shift to streets packed with tourists, long car trips made all the more merry by screaming kids and the endless queues characteristic of our last minute Christmas shopping.
The truth is that in most cases the anxiety that plagues throughout the year still manages to rear its ugly head in a range of clever guises and forms. It’s no wonder then that so many find themselves starting the new year as rundown, strung out and totally disillusioned as they ended the last.
Thankfully, it really doesn’t need to be this way. Here are a few tips to help you stay centred throughout all the holiday hooha.
1. Practice saying “No”…A LOT.
The festive season is a great time for catching up with friends and loved ones but once the novelty of being able to sleep in till 11am slowly begins to wear off, you may come to realise how all of that “chilling” you’ve been doing has actually become kind of exhausting.
Now listen I get it, sometimes that “FOMO” can just be so, SO real, but you know what else is real – adrenal fatigue, liver failure and all other forms of biological burnout.
It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, fact is co-dependency and unhealthy boundaries are never sexy. So practice turning down that extra bit of work, fun festive activity or Jaggie that you know you really don’t need.
And remember: “No is a complete sentence”.
2. Spend time alone. Do Nothing.
So you’ve turned down an invitation to what feels like the 100th “event of the season”. What now?
Now you do nothing.
One of the main reasons why people struggle to sit in meditation is because they don’t much like being with themselves, so why use some of your extra free time to give it a try.
See if you can make your way up to sitting in silence for 20 minutes a day.
And no, trawling Instagram for selfie-spiration doesn’t count! Pack up your laptop, take off those headphones and put down that smartphone too…you may be surprised by what you learn.
3. Go outside…and stay there.
I understand how this kind of technology detox might seem a little extreme for some people and that’s why I’d also suggest spending time in nature while you do.
Science has long shown how being outdoors has an incredible number of health benefits ranging from grounding and vitamin D to better eye health and sleep rhythms.
Besides being soothing and oh-so beautiful too, our natural environments also happens to be a great place to practice The Sound Awareness Meditation Technique. Try it out for just 10 minutes a day…See how you feel after. You can thank me later. 😉
4. Leverage your boredom & frustration
Like I said before, things can get very old very fast… And annoying.
With all the holiday hubbubery, you’d definitely be forgiven if things started to get a little annoying too but this is about the time that you may want to begin to leverage that boredom and frustration by practicing centring.
Here’s a very simplified version of how to centre:
i. Sit/stand with your spine straight.
ii. Empty your lungs by blowing air out through your mouth.
iii. Inhale slowly and deeply in through your nose. Breathe deep down into your belly keeping your shoulders down, heavy and relaxed.
iv. Then exhale slowly and deliberately through your mouth.
Make sure your lips are slightly puckered and pursed as you exhale. Let the air out with control. Allow any sounds that may want to come out to pass through too. None of this should feel uncomfortable, take your time.
Try to focus your complete attention on the sensation of air entering and leaving your body. Notice how your body and mind feel as you do this.
v. Repeat 5-6 times.
vi. At the end of the 6th breath, picture a bright white light running from the top of your head, through your spine and into your coccyx, then mentally say the word “centre”.
vii. Start breathing normally now. Slowly and deeply in through the nose and out through the nose. As you do this gently, mentally repeat the word “centre” or “relax” until you feel a sense of peace and are better equipped to deal with the task at hand.
When drowning amidst the sea of last minute Christmas shoppers, I highly suggest that you forgo the urge to punch that “slow-walker” in the back of the head and practice taking a couple of deep breaths instead. 😉
5. Get Help – It’s quicker & less painful too
While simple deep breathing, may be a great place to start, most of us have at least 2 weeks of vacation time this festive season.
That means 14 days of confused tourists asking you where The Warehouse is.
That’s 336 hours of relatives reminding you how: “You’ve gotten fat ne?”
You’ll be trying to live through 20 160 minutes of personal prodding about “why haven’t you settled down with a nice boy/girl yet?”
And yes, somehow you’ll be expected to survive the 1 209 600 seconds of enquiries into when you plan on getting a real job that pays a decent wage?
That’s a lot of deep breaths.
If you’re really serious about making it through the festive in one unharrowed whole then you’ll probably want to take things a step further and get some outside help. It’s common knowledge that meditating in groups is a vastly different experience than doing it on your own and it’s also really great for flattening that learning curve too.
There are a ton of teachers and resources both on and offline that can help you. Why not use some of that time to learn or refine a life-changing skill.
6. “Do or do not. There is no try…”
Back in 1977 George Lucas thrilled millions by introducing us to Star Wars and its family of unforgettable characters. One of my personal favourites is Jedi Master Yoda, and I make a point of sharing this quote with all my meditators, regardless of the time of year:
“Do or do not. There is no try…”
The truth is you may not be a very good meditator right now, but so what?
Instead of wasting energy wondering about what you may be doing wrong, why not channel more focus into the things you know you’re doing right.
Pay attention, then watch them grow….
And there you have it. My top tips for staying centred throughout this holiday season. If you have any more questions about flourishing through the festive, then please let me know.
Till then I wish you all the best in your practice and in life.
You can get in touch with Melissa through her website here : Melissa Mukaiwa