At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want. –Lao Tzu
Do you notice that as the holidays approach, it’s so easy to get swept away by the stress and chaos that oftentimes comes with it? How many gifts do I have to buy? How many gifts do I have to make? How many cookies do I have to bake? How many family traditions do I have to fit in? How many parties do I have to schedule? How much snow will winter bring? How much is everything going to cost? Am I giving enough of my time? How can I be of service and help those in need? Do we have enough? Did we spend too much? What do I get for grandma and the neighbors and the co-workers and do we have the family photo printed and the cards written and the letters addressed and how am I going to get it all done…!?
And then poof…it’s over. Just. Like. That. The presents have been unwrapped, the sweets devoured, the lists checked off. But if we aren’t careful, we may end up missing the special, meaningful parts of the holiday season altogether. And we’re kicking off the New Year having over-committed, over-consumed, over-eaten and over-spent.
Winter is a time to return to center. The colder weather, shorter days, and longer nights invite us to slow down, retreat and return home. It’s a season that can naturally guide us towards solitude, peace and stillness – that is if we don’t let the mile-long lists and obligations knock us off course.
So how do we enjoy the serene beauty and solitude that winter brings, and still be part of the holiday traditions? How can we invite more meaning, simplicity and stillness during a season that thrives on over-doing-it? How do we stay connected to our center, and instead embrace and celebrate this season in a more peaceful way?
One way to simplify your holidays and enjoy the slower pace of winter is to become more aware of what it feels like to be centered. Your heart, the core of your being – the place that stores your inner wisdom, joy, love and peace – is at your very center. And the way to get there is through stillness. The busier you are, the more distracted and caught up you get in the everyday. Life becomes more about checking off lists and keeping up. With a connection to center, it’s easier to stay balanced and grounded to a simpler, calmer way of being.
Finding stillness each day is a gift you can give yourself, because it is in this still space where your heart can be heard. Making space for a moment of stillness every day will help you see the world around you in a new way. It will be easier to stay true to what you value most, without getting caught up in the rush and stress around you. You’ll be able to more easily find the peace amidst the chaos and you’ll see the beauty that comes from slowing down.
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. –John Muir
Daily Practice for Finding Center – Blessing the Day With Stillness
In the morning, just as you start to wake, keep your eyes closed and stay in bed for a few extra minutes. Ask yourself: What do I need most today? Quietly wait and let a word or phrase come to surface. Try not to edit your thoughts, but simply observe the first word or phrase that comes to your mind easily and effortlessly. (It’s easier to do this when you are still in that blissful sleepy state!) Take a moment to repeat the word or phrase before getting out of bed – feel them in your body and carry them with you throughout the day. This simple ritual helps you bless the day and creates a clearer path between your heart and mind – the connection that helps you stay centered throughout the day. (So when you notice your mind start to race mid-day about your growing “to do” list, remember your morning blessing, take a few breaths and reflect on that special word or phrase. This will help you slow down and reconnect to your heart.)
During the day, try to make some time for a moment of stillness. Get out in nature. Go for a walk alone. Sit quietly. Write in a journal. Be with your thoughts. Let go of judgments. Feel your heart open and expand, as your mind quiets and your body relaxes.
In the evening, when the house is quiet and you lay your head on your pillow, take a few moments to reflect on the day – remembering your word or phrase from the morning blessing. Ask yourself: What did today bring? (Anything that didn’t get done, let it go. If there is something pending that won’t allow you to go to bed peacefully, then get up and wrap it up. You want to give yourself the opportunity to prepare for a new day, and that’s hard to do when you’re holding on to the things you didn’t get to.) Then, take a few deep breaths in and out, release your day and let yourself sleep.
The practice of blessing the day and night with stillness is a powerful way to find center. Slow down this holiday season. Prioritize what truly matters most and celebrate in ways that have purpose and meaning for you and your family. Let go of the push to keep up or to do too much. Find your moment of stillness each day so you can feel more centered and connected to your heart. Your heart knows things. Its job is to guide you towards peace. And it’s your job to listen, observe and become aware enough to follow its lead.
Shannon Kinney-Duh is the creator of A Free Spirit Life and the mother of 2. She has a passion for inspiring women to reconnect to their intuition and creativity so they can nurture their dreams, live with more meaning and joy, and create lives they love. When she’s not leading e-courses like “Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery” or “Outside in: A Return to Stillness”, Shannon is playing in the woods or making messes with her boys.
Rhythm of the Home is an online magazine for families that focuses on creating with children, nature explorations, seasonal celebrations, conscious parenting, and mindfulness in all that we do.