“Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot, which was taught in immense milky way soft cloud innumerable worlds long ago and not even at all.” ~ Jack Kerouac
It happens often: I’m hurtling through my day on autopilot, my mind gnawing on things that ultimately aren’t that important.
I lose perspective, get caught up in negative emotions, and snap at the people I love the most. Or I obsess, fantasize and worry.
This time of year, in the thick of the holiday season, it’s even easier to get sidetracked. With a full calendar and too many items on my to-do list, I find it harder than ever to stay centered.
In these moments, I forget that I’m a spiritual being.
I can act more compassionately, and feel more connected and lighthearted. Here are eight techniques that can help me quickly tap into my spirit throughout the day:
- Practice a morning routine. Most mornings, I practice a short routine consisting of a brief meditation, a reading and a prayer. It takes 10 minutes or less to start my day off with the reminder to be present and in my body.
- Get outside. When I get into nature, whether it’s entering a tree-strewn patch of woods, walking on a windy beach or tilting my head up to the night sky, my body instantly relaxes. Connecting with nature puts everything into perspective for me. Remembering that I’m part of an incomprehensibly vast universe washes away my less consequential worries about money or schedules.
- Listen. If I’m feeling ungrounded, listening to a spiritual talk can help bring me back to my center. Driving is a perfect opportunity to listen to such a podcast. Even if I’m not fully listening because I’m concentrating on the road or my mind is wandering, hearing something calm or inspiring helps me shift my energy.
- Connect. While the ubiquitousness of technology sometimes means less mindfulness, the ease of getting in touch with loved ones can be very positive and connecting. I have a few friends who I don’t get to see in person very often, but who are a very important part of my life and have similar beliefs as I do. Sending or receiving a text from one of them makes my day better, and reminds me of what’s important.
- Legs up the wall pose (Vipariti Karani). I’ve been working on ways to calm myself down as a way of modeling for my kids, but the truth is, I need these techniques at least as much as my children do. A few minutes of lying on the floor with legs up the wall—or the couch—triggers the parasympathetic nervous system to relax our bodies. Once I move out of a fight or flight reaction, I am much more likely to behave in a way that’s in line with my spiritual values.
- Make a goodness list. The news lately has been brutal. It’s easy to start thinking—especially in this season of waning light—that the universe is a harsh place. Like making a gratitude list, taking a few minutes to write down a handful of things that are good can shift my attitude immediately. I might write about the way that my kids watch out for one other, a pleasant, unexpected exchange with someone at the grocery store, or the simple glow of holiday lights. Also like a gratitude list, it doesn’t have to be complicated to work. Refocusing my attention on goodness connects me to the current of spirit.
- Say thank you. There is nothing quite like saying thank you to the universe. I don’t know if it’s the vibration of the words or just the act of uttering gratitude, but whether it’s an amazing sunset, the faces of my favorite people, or simply noticing a feeling of well-being, it works. Saying thank you inherently assumes that there is something larger than you or I to say thank you.
- Mini Metta. In metta meditation, we send out positive wishes to other beings. Some scientists have theorized that our bodies produce oxytocin—the love hormone—when we practice metta, giving us a general feeling of well-being. Metta is one of my favorite quick ways to feel linked with other people—and my own spirit.
In this rushing season, may we be calm. May we be true. May we be connected.
Author: Lynn Shattuck
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Greg Rakozy/Unsplash