I don’t know about you, but I think this time of year is complex. Invitations pour in to be “out, about, and social” while, at the same time, the days are shorter and the Natural World is reminding us that this is a time for conservation, hibernation and retreat.
One of the ways I ride these contradictions as the holiday season catapults us towards the end of the year is a qigong form called the Crystal Generator, which is a featured practice I offer annually at my Nourish the Flame event. Although I can’t offer the whole thing here, I think if you take about 3 minutes to try out this excerpt, you may find, as I do, that it will become a key sustaining tool to thrive through the season.
Although I believe that this time of year can be hard for many people for many reasons, I was surprised to discover how relatively few articles there are offering tips to reduce stress at this time of year. So I laughed out loud when I saw a comment somewhere on-line that said “Want to avoid Christmas stress? Stay Jewish.”
For me, growing up with one parent who was Jewish, the other Catholic, Christmas won. That is, my family decorated a tree, left cookies for Santa and inevitably had some kind of painful fight before the day was done.
By the time I left home, I’d had it with Christmas. I just didn’t like the various pressures, the crazy-making swing between expectations and disappointments, the invisibility of the Jewish part of my heritage, and the general atmosphere of not-enough-ness — not enough presents, money spent, love connections, laughter, and well, Joy.
So when a dear Native American friend told me that she found it odd that the dominant culture here held a “give away” (gift exchange) during a season when the natural world was pared down to its least abundance, I began to think about what this season of Winter Solstice, the day that are more hours of night than sunlight, might hold for me, I began to align with what the true gift of this season might hold for me.
Vicki Dello Joio, founder of The Way of Joy: A Spiritual Fitness Program, is a teacher, speaker and performing artist. Integrating over 40 years of Chi Kung practice with other martial arts as well as her work in Yoga, Feldenkreis, physical fitness and theater, Vicki has developed a dynamic set of tools to increase awareness, transform obstacles into opportunities and enhance creative potential. Book: The Way of Joy: An Evolutionary Process to Awaken Inspiration, Focus Intention and Manifest Fulfillment, CD: Short Meditations for a Busy Life.
As we move towards Winter Solstice and the days grow shorter, there tends to be a social pressure to be Out and About, get things done, shop and socialize. In some ways these two states can feel out-of-sync or contradictory, thus producing tension in our minds and bodies.
In past vlogs I’ve talked about different natural stress relievers: bringing your focus to your breath or taking a moment to slow down to align your body and become present like a baby Buddha.
Today I’d like to offer a short easy qigong practice to help stay grounded during times of stress or tension during accelerated times.
Do you notice anything different in how you feel after you’ve tried this out or do you feel about the same?