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Holiday Joy: A Four Week Coaching Program

It’s late November. The days are short, the nights are long, the world is cold. It’s time to light candles, to sip warm drinks by the fire and to come together with loved ones to fight back the chill and warm our hearts. But as beautiful as these images are—warm fires, snowy trees beyond a frosted window pane, chunky knits and warm boots—this can also be a difficult time of year. It’s easy to become over-committed, to lack the time and space needed for rest and self-care. Goals and dreams can be pushed aside as our attention goes towards the parties we’re attending or hosting, shopping for gifts, preparing for family gatherings and other obligations of the season. Many people feel lonely. Some worry about money, or about the weight they’re gaining.

What’s heralded as a magical time of year often feels just the opposite. But the possibility is always there. We can always stop, take a deep breath and reconnect to the magic around us.

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Try This: Mini-Meditations

IMG_1613Once a day, or whenever you’d like to live with a bit more grace and ease, try taking a mini-meditation break. It’s very simple, takes only a few moments and can completely change your entire day.

I like to set a 2-5 minute timer on my iPhone, sit down on the floor if I can, close my eyes and just breathe. In and out. Watching the rhythm, and giving myself a short break from whatever life is throwing my way. I place my hands on my knees, palms down if I feel I could use some grounding, palms up if I could use some energy or insight. That’s all it takes, and it never fails to bring me a touch of peace.

With so many things in life, we assume that we need big solutions, big changes, extreme measures. And often we do need to do something, change something–but that something may not be as daunting as we think.  A moment of quiet breathing may be all it takes. If you meditate regularly, these short sessions are an added treat, and a way to weave your mediation practice more fully into your day. If you’re a new or (like many of us) an inconsistent meditator, these mini-sessions offer a convenient opening into mindfulness. Without the pressure of meditating for sustained amounts of time, you may find yourself going deeper more quickly and easily.

I invite you to stop, sit and breathe. Just for a moment. Just for one, precious moment. Notice how precious it is. Notice again. And then let it go.

Try This: Keep a Journal

IMG_0109Over the next few weeks, I will be introducing a series of posts called “Try This,” a collection of ideas for you to try when you’re seeking greater joy and peace in your life.  These are things that have often worked for me, and which might be of benefit to you.

I’ll begin with a practice that I began at the age of 14, and have used fairly consistently ever since:  keeping a journal.  I have used my journals for many things:  to rant about problems, to play with solutions, to capture memories, to record my journey.  There is no wrong way to keep a journal but, if you are new to the practice, here are a few ideas:

Begin where you are.  Describe where you are sitting, how you are you feeling, what’s on your mind.

If you’re upset, angry or wrestling with a problem, try this:  give yourself some time and space to really get it out.  Express your feelings, without censoring. After you’ve done that for a few minutes, switch gears.  Find something good about the person or situation, or some lesson that you’re learning.  If that doesn’t work, switch gears entirely–try writing about something else that brings you joy, such as your adorable 2-year old niece, the party you’re looking forward to, or just the way the snow looks on the mountains.

Use your journal to express gratitude.  Simply writing down a list of things that make you happy can make you feel better.

If you’re concerned about privacy, there are apps that require passwords (I like iJournal), or you can enable password protection on many word processing programs.  Or find a great hiding place!

As with any practice, experiment with different ways of doing it, and find a way that works for you.  That could be writing every morning as you sip your coffee, or once a week as a Sunday night ritual.  You may prefer a spiral notebook, a computer or a beautiful leather book (I like fairly large pages that open flat, but over the years, there’s nothing I haven’t tried).

Have you ever kept a journal?  What works for you?  If you have ideas, suggestions or questions of your own, I’d love to hear them!