It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas: I hear the Christmas carols, I see the Christmas merchandise displayed in the stores, and I feel the “hustle bustle” as everyone rushes around trying to buy all the presents, bake all the cookies, attend all the parties and events, and make it home in time to try to sing the yuletide carols and drink the festive punch!
It is truly a crazy time of year where we all seem to feel the rush and time pressure as Christmas day approaches and I can’t help but feel that in the busyness, we are sometimes missing the whole point of celebration, togetherness, and reflection on the year!
I make myself very busy most of the time. But lately, I have been trying to change. Changing a “way of being” for most of my life is no easy feat. But as I speed through life, sometimes on auto pilot, a sadness can overwhelm me, when I think about all the accomplishments and goals I have achieved but also all of the moments I have missed because I have been so future focused and goal-oriented.
I am not promising myself total transformation, but I can reflect upon and share a couple of things I have learned lately as I make a conscious effort to slow down. Slowing down has changed my body, my mind, and my spirit.
First, in slowing down, I feel I have much more awareness of my body. I am able to check in to see how I feel – where my muscles hurt, or where I feel healthy and strong. I am also better in tune with hunger and fullness. I believe so many of us “live to eat, instead of eating to live” and in so doing, we “miss” the eating experience. We are eating while doing activities like watching TV or driving or we are eating, but really thinking about all the things we have yet to do in our day. Eating without awareness can mean we don’t actually taste our food and it can also mean we are clueless about how full we are as we eat. This can definitely lead to overeating! Finally, I have become much more aware of how I stand. On days I have energy and confidence, I stand tall and proud. On days when I feel tired or sluggish or lacking in “gusto”, I slouch and tend to not feel as good about myself. I have learned to pay attention to my body and to work with it, not against it and, in slowing down, I have also come to re-appreciate the value in yoga and connecting with my own body!
Secondly, slowing down has helped me become much more attuned to my mind. I have a tendency to think negatively before I think positively. But lately, I have been catching my thoughts and turning them around. Whether my thoughts are ones of worry or “what if’s” or thoughts of things I must do and “busy thinking”, I am paying better attention and choosing much more wisely. I know the power of positive thinking and now I know the power of actually choosing to ignore the negative thoughts. I get to choose what I think about! And when I choose the thoughts that affirm who I am: “I am strong”, “I am confident”, and “I am brave”, it actually changes my experience! I am also aware of what I put into my mind. This includes: the books I read, the shows I watch on TV, and the people I talk to. If it isn’t helping me feel good about myself: inspired and supported, I am choosing to ignore it! In slowing down my mind, I am also able to cultivate more feelings of appreciation and gratitude for all that I have, and for all that I am!
Finally, in slowing down, I have come to learn to pay attention to my spirit. I would define spirit as the light inside of me: the sense of hope, joy, and purpose. When my spirit is down, I become self-focused and self-absorbed. I can wonder “what is wrong with me?” and I can feel that some of what I do in life is in vain. However, on days when my spirit is fulfilled, I can feel so incredibly inspired, hopeful, and other-focused. On these days, I strongly feel I have a clear purpose and place in this world and something special and unique to offer. In slowing down to give my spirit the love, care, and attention it needs, I can reflect upon my feelings: the positive ones like happiness and joy as well as the negative ones such as disappointment and fear and I can figure out what I need to do to feel inspired. With a little down time to reconnect with myself, some positive conversations, and time outside in nature, my spirit is easily restored.
So, even though I understand and I am a contributor of the busyness of Christmas, I am also learning the value in slowing down to actually feel my body, my mind, and my spirit and be present and in the moment before I move forward!