by Richelle Kimble
Take a moment to be mindful.
Eliminate the clutter in your mind, focus on being here, breathe in clouds of positivity and joy, and breathe out blackened negativity and stress.
By here, I mean, now.
With the bustling atmosphere of the holidays, taking a few moments to breathe can go a long way.
Amber Kilpatrick, senior teacher and workshop coordinator at The Funky Buddha Yoga Hothouse, added meditation to her yoga practice five years ago. In addition to finding stress relief during her pregnancy, she found meditation to ease her discomforts and heighten her personal connection with her body. Since, she has trained around the country with renowned teachers Baron Baptiste, Philip Urso and Stacy Dockins and will be receiving her 500-hour Registered Yoga School (RYS) certification in 2015. RYS training incorporates hundreds of contact hours and study subjects such as anatomy and physiology, yoga philosophy, lifestyle and ethics.
Now, Kilpatrick encourages meditation to her students and beyond. Her advice for waning stress during the holidays: let go of distractions through meditation.
“The practice of meditation can bring the practitioner numerous physical and mental benefits,” she said. “A regular meditation practice can also increase a person’s intuition, reduce reactivity and bring an overall sense of real happiness.”
The benefits of meditation are scientifically supported and encouraged as an active form of health improvement. According to Kilpatrick, studies and MRI type imaging show us that during meditation, the brain cells work together to strengthen key brain functions such as decision making, memory and emotional responses. We may not notice these changes as much as the lower blood pressure, reduced anxiety, increased serotonin and increased energy that meditation can bring.
Kilpatrick defines meditation as essentially training our attention. Allowing yourself to step back, relax and focus on the present moment during stressful times can have a major impact on your performance. If you’re completely new to meditation, try starting slow. Kilpatrick suggests first realizing that meditation isn’t an insurmountable task, and then begin with small doses of 2-5 minutes each day.
“All you have to do is sit still, close your eyes and notice your breath,” she said. “As you sit, you will undoubtedly be distracted by thoughts or your environment. Repeatedly let go of these distractions and return to notice your breath.”
For those of you who are familiar to meditation and would like to deepen your practice, try reading meditation literature or attending workshops, retreats or intensives. Start local by finding resources here in town, such as the Funky Buddha, Expressions of Grace Yoga, Cascade Yoga or other wellness-based studios.
Incorporating small segments of meditation into your daily lifestyle is an easy way to relax, increase self-awareness and calm your mind, especially during the holidays. Go ahead, retreat from the chaos for a 5-minute refresh.