The holidays are just around the corner—you can almost taste the gingerbread cookies and fruit cake—but while it's the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be the most stressful. Gift shopping is fun but the crowds certainly aren't; vacations are awesome but the last minute work rush isn't; and family time is the best but it can also be challenging. So how do we maintain our sanity throughout these testing moments? Meditation.
Micah Mortali, director of the Kripalu Schools of Yoga and Ayurveda at The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, recommends a few minutes of meditation to keep you grounded and sane through the holiday season. Throughout his 11-year career as a certified yoga teacher, Mortali has seen firsthand how this simple act of mindfulness can increase focus, improve the quality of your decisions, and remove stress—and you don't have to be sitting on a mat in a quiet room either. With his unconventional and simple hacks, you can meditate during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Scroll down for his tips to improve your sanity this holiday season.
Focus on the surrounding sounds
While family time is super fun, there's always plenty of loud noise and crazy sounds that can be distracting if you want to meditate. But it is possible. "Close your eyes and focus on the sounds you can hear, and use the sounds occurring in the present moment to hold your attention in the here and now," he says. "Sounds are always changing, so the variety of sound will give the mind something interesting to focus on, which is much easier than focusing on your breath."
Tune into your holiday meals
Oftentimes our food becomes a necessity to fill a hole rather than being a time for enjoyment. Mindful eating is another practice that can bring your attention back to the present moment. "Before you dig into that holiday brunch or massive piece of pie take a deep breath and notice your food; smell it, take in the colors and textures," he suggests. "As you eat, stay with your food, and try not to think about anything else. Use the flavors of the food to keep you present in your meditation practice."
Go for a walk
When it all gets too much, always remember there is an exit. Sometimes just a short walk can solve everything. This allows you time to meditate without having to sit down and close your eyes, but still results in the same calming effect. Plus it means you can escape the chaos of family for five minutes and regroup. "With walking meditation, the idea is to walk slowly and mindfully, while maintaining a soft and conscious breath," Mortali points out. "Every footstep is conscious as you remain mindful of the environment around you; the wind, the sound of the leaves blowing, the cars going by. Time and again you bring your attention back to the act of walking with the fullness of your awareness in your body."
If you want to try meditation to relieve stress, shop our top book on the topic below.
To learn more about meditation and mindfulness, visit The Kripalu Center.
Do you use meditation for stress relief? What are your simple hacks for maintaining sanity? Share them with us below.