Taking Time Out To Restore

AdobeStock_53255900.jpegThere are many ways to replenish ourselves during the busy holiday season. For all the extroverts out there, the many parties and gatherings this time of year can feel replenishing. For the rest of us that are partially extroverted and partially introverted or completely introverted, the holidays (while wonderful) can feel draining. Setting up a practice for yourself that includes restorative self-care can ensure an overarching sense of stability and ease. We can be more present to enjoy the ones we love when we have taken time to rest and restore.

  • Seated Meditation

  • Moving Meditation

  • Quiet Walking

  • Reading

Seated Meditation

While inviting in a regular meditation practice has numerous benefits, many people feel intimidated by the notion. Perhaps they have tried meditation once and discovered it was uncomfortable (either in their body or in their mind). This is perfectly natural. Many of us did not grow up in a culture where sitting quietly and calming the mind (as a practice) was normative. Conversely, if you grew up with the Western paradigm, you inherited a set of values that places worth on multi-tasking and busy minds (whether conscious or unconscious). The benefits of meditative practices are more easily recognized within ourselves for this very reason if we can get past the uncomfortable stage.

If you already have a meditation practice but maybe have not made it a daily practice for quite some time, this is a perfect time of year to reinvigorate dedication to your seat. Insight Timer is a free app that has lovely bells or chimes that let you know when your designated time has passed. For example, perhaps you decide that you will sit for ten minutes a day for one month to maintain a sense of vitality through the holiday season. You can set the timer for ten minutes on the app and choose what sound will rouse you from your practice. In addition, Insight Timer has thousands of guided meditations with different voices, styles and lengths of time, so you can explore a new one each day. This is helpful for beginners who would like some support and guidance while sitting quietly.

Moving Meditation

Maybe you sit all day at work and the last thing you want to do is sit for ten minutes a day. No problem; try a moving meditation, like yoga, qigong or tai chi. Amanda listed several options for learning qigong and tai chi in her blog post last week. Taking several minutes a day to practice one element of something you learned in a group class can have tremendous benefits. All of these listed moving meditations have the dual function of feeling good and calming in the body, while also invigorating the blood by moving. Qigong and tai chi tend to be more gentle, while yoga tends to be a bit more dynamic (both are both, but generalizations help if you are new to the practices). Conversely, you can simply stretch and breathe for ten minutes before bed. Any stretches that feel good in your body are appropriate.

Quiet Walking

Beginning a new practice sound intimidating this time of year? No problem. Numerous studies have come out revealing that simply walking amongst trees has similar effects to meditation practices on our health. To attain these results of lower stress levels, greater health vitality and lowered accounts of depression, walk amongst trees for 10-15 minutes a day. Scientifically speaking, these benefits are shown with quiet, contemplative walks in local city parks and do not require traveling to the forest (an early speculation in the science community).

Reading

Still not your thing? Maybe all you need is a good book. Reading is also a quiet, contemplative practice that can be very restorative. The New York Times comes out with their 10 best picks every year and for each book, they offer a nice glimpse into why they chose that book (without giving away the plot). A quick Google search including the year can offer an enticing new read and ensure a little quiet downtime for yourself during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. These are a few good books I’ve enjoyed:

  • Buddha’s Brain: the practical neuroscience of happiness, love and wisdom: If you would like to geek out on all the modern science about meditation and how it’s now proving what has been said for 2,500 years in the realms of yoga and meditation, this one’s for you. Inspiring!
  • The Memoirs of Cleopatra: The author, Margaret George, went to Egypt for four years to research this book. It is not only an account of Cleopatra’s life from her own scrolls she kept, but takes into account about six pages of other historical books the author found. A satisfying time journey with visceral descriptions of the life and times of this remarkable young woman.
  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek: Annie Dillard not only won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for this general non-fiction work, she has been praised by many since its first release. While she claims it is a book about theology, nature lovers will find her insightful and complex look into the natural world starkly honest and startling. I love the way she weaves words and overlays themes in her writing, like poetry.

 

Julie Baron is an EDSC_0081ast Asian Medicine Practitioner at the Thompson Family Acupuncture Clinic in Walla Walla, WA. Julie seeks to empower individuals and communities.  As a movement and mindfulness educator, she has a penchant for functional anatomy. As an EAMP, she has also has a passion for herbal medicine.

 

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