One of the very best things we can do to usher in the new year is to "just breathe". When we are feeling stress, pressure, uncertainty, or any other manifestations of stress our breathing changes. When those changes happen we are not consciously aware of the change. If we tap into it by drawing our attention to how our breath has changed we can help counteract the effect of stress on the body by taking a moment to become aware of how our breath is moving. Taking the time to draw awareness to our breath allows us to then have the power to slow it down or change it. When we consciously become aware of the breath we activate the part of the brain that can help calm us down and release feel good hormones, instead of stress hormones.
Pay attention to how you are feeling today and this evening. Especially if you are attending crowded parties, restaurants, family functions, etc. Notice when you begin to feel agitated, closed in, tense, nervous, sweaty, annoyed, pressured or like you want to jump out of your own skin, etc. Pay attention to what happens to your breathing when those feelings kick in, then politely take a moment to yourself and breathe in deeply for the count of 4 and then breathe out for the count of 4. Do this about 4-5 times and then see if you feel differently.
It is a quick meditative tool that is always available to you to keep you centered and present because we all know that stress is cumulative and boy, does it accumulate fast! One moment of feeling our personal space being threatened or our inner world being tapped into and it adds up fast to not wanting to be around anyone. If the part of your brain that reacts to stress is constantly on high alert, firing off stress hormones and nothing is ever done to activate the part of the brain that responds with rational thinking and feel good hormones, then you stay in a constant state of hyper-vigilance and stress. Developing simple meditative tools that you can use whenever you want can be a way to tap into the responsive part of the brain that helps calm you down.
As always, meditation is a complementary mind/body healing modality to help support already ongoing medical care. It is not a quick fix for the problems we face or the medical conditions we experience, but it can be a way for us be present enough to ride the waves of life with a bit more balance, presence, and an enhanced sense of well-being. Well-being is something that people suffering from PTSD and trauma often aren't thinking about. It seems the constant for many is about surviving the day, so that we can make it to the next one. Life is about living, not just about surviving. It is possible to see yourself through the dust of what you've experienced.