BALANCING HOLIDAY CHEER & PERSONAL YEAR-END RESTORATION.
This is an especially interesting time of year. On the one hand, the holiday season is incredibly festive and illuminated. Everywhere we turn we see the bright, joyous lights of the holidays marking this special time. We gather, attending and hosting numerous holiday parties, engage the extroverted parts of ourselves and raise a glass to life.
On the other hand however, these are the shortest days of the winter season. The winter solstice falls on December 21st, reminding us that the darkness of winter is here for a reason. As night falls early, nature's cycles beckon us to slow down, to rest, reflect and hibernate during this time of year. Many of us regard January as our time to re-engage our ambitious, get-up-and-go approach to life, naturally making the end of December our time to go inward and recoup before we pick up the pace again.
Earlier this week in my monthly women's group, we discussed this paradox of being pulled towards external exuberance and internal restoration simultaneously. Many of us expressed feeling overwhelmed by holiday party obligations, shopping, hosting duties and year-end deadlines. While we love to see our friends, families and co-workers, we were quick to admit that we were craving a few quiet nights at home before 2012.
Our conversation gave me pause and had me realize just how overwhelming this time of year can be for many.
How do we get the full festive holiday experience while honoring our physical, emotional need to slow down?
In sitting with this inquiry, I feel we have the opportunity to celebrate the light while cherishing the hidden gifts of darkness. If we choose to be mindful about it, we can create balance this holiday season.
CELEBRATING THE LIGHT
Christmas and Hanukkah fall at the same time this year. Each of these holidays is marked by lights. As Christmas nears, we are surrounded by the quintessential holiday lights that remind us that something special is going on. It is a time for celebration, faith and cheer. As a child I remember walking down "Christmas Tree Lane" in my neighborhood and counting all the houses that were covered in lights. Although I am Jewish and do not celebrate Christmas, I remember feeling a sense of excitement and wonderment as we passed others who were sharing the delight of the lights and holiday season. It is a deeply joyous, spiritual time for many.
Hanukkah is a holiday that celebrates the miracle of light. Pause for a moment and take in this obvious blessing that we sometimes take for granted: the miracle of light. It is my favorite Jewish holiday of the year. In addition to the festive, social aspect of this holiday, this holiday is my favorite because for 8 nights we take time out to light candles and celebrate light. Lighting candles is ceremonial, sacred, meaningful. We do it during rituals, when we meditate and in honor of our birthdays. It is an opportunity to pause, become grateful and remember to be in awe of life. I also see it as a chance to celebrate how illuminated my life is and how brightly the inner light of my friends and family shine.
Here are some questions to stimulate your appreciation of the light all around you at this time:
* How can you truly celebrate the light of life this holiday season?
* What are you grateful for?
* Who and what are you in awe of?
* Before going to a holiday party, pause and ask yourself: What am I REALLY celebrating tonight?
* What miracles exist in your life? How are you blessed?
* How can you spread the holiday light to someone in need?
* In what ways do you have faith? What restores your faith?
* What are you praying for?
CHERISHING THE DARKNESS
Darkness is something we often want to run away from. To many it represents fear, hardship and confusion. I invite you to consider a different perspective: the beauty and blessing of darkness. Darkness can also represent stillness, rest and peace. It is by contrast to the dark that we actually can see the light. Imagine the beauty and stillness of a starry night out in nature, away from the city lights. It is stunning how many stars are actually visible across the backdrop of the dark night sky!
Darkness also represents going inward. While this is scary for some, in truth, it is one of the most beautiful, powerful practices we can engage in. It is through going inward that we get clarity, return to a place of trust vs. fear and restore our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical tanks. It is by going inward, reflecting and resting that our creative ideas suddenly re-emerge and our capacity for others multiplies ten fold. Ironically, it is through the inner peace and stillness of darkness that we access and strengthen our inner light.
On a physical level, darkness makes us sleepy. Melatonin, a hormone that makes us tired, is secreted upon exposure to darkness. As night falls, this hormone is released, allowing us to easily fall asleep. As the days shorten, we are called to go inward. Nature demands it of us. It is our time to rest, replenish, reflect and restore. To learn more about melatonin and other variables that impact your sleep/wake cycles, download my free article on
The Six Secrets To Splendid Sleep.
I invite you to turn your phone off and schedule time on your calendar for napping, meditation, alone time, baths, massages and personal pampering amidst the holiday buzz! Here are some questions to get you started:
* How can you create in-between moments of stillness amidst the holiday rush?
* Will you commit to sitting in silence for 5-10 minutes first thing every morning until 2012?
* Before entering a holiday party, sit in your car for 3 minutes and practice deep breathing. Go inward and ask yourself: What am I really feeling? How can I experience this party in the most balanced way?
* What can you say NO to? I give you permission to set boundaries!
* What does your ideal quiet night at home entail? Promise yourself one night like this before 2012.
* When you take a few moments and quiet yourself, what do you hear?
* What does your intuition tell you that you need?
May your light shine bright and your tanks be full.
Wishing you balance, joy, celebration and personal time for rest and restoration this holiday season!
I welcome your comments!
A NEW WAY TO EXPERIENCE THE HOLIDAYS
The holidays can be a time of stress, family tension and over-eating for many of us. While we cherish time spent with relatives and friends, enjoy traditional foods and leaving town for a few days, typically, the holidays are laden with travel tension, family tension, little personal time and lots of over-eating that leaves many of us feeling bloated, frustrated and regretting our choices. It is as if we let all of our conscious choice making fly out the window in order to fully experience the holidays. We opt for complete indulgence during the holiday season knowing that January will come soon enough to get us back on track.
What if we could indulge, connect and relax while feeling empowered, conscious and proud of ourselves? What if we could spend the holidays totally fulfilled AND in a way that continued our self-growth, fostered our health and forward movement towards our larger goals?
WHAT IF YOUR HIGHEST SELF CAME TO THANKSGIVING?
THE OLD STORY
Many of us have created stories that promote being stuck in a limited place of false beliefs. We convince ourselves that the following is true. See if any of these statements are things you’ve told yourself before:
* I won’t really enjoy the party if I stick to my diet.
* To truly obtain a feeling of indulgence and relaxation, I have to let go of everything I’m working on.
* My family members won’t understand me if I show up as my Highest Self.
* I will be alone if I truly embody and express my truth.
* Traveling is stressful.
* The holidays are stressful and depleting, I have to please everyone else.
Newsflash: It is all illusion!! These are stories that you have created from a part of you that is experiencing fear – fear that you can’t have it all, a scarcity mentality, a lack of trust. Open yourself to creating a new story.
THE NEW STORY
What does it feel like to experience fun, meaning, yummy-ness or love in a way that honors your highest self; in a way that values your vision for the best you? You’ve felt it before. See if you can remember a time when:
* You showed up at the social event and opted for veggies over chips.
* You went to dinner and only had one glass of wine or none at all despite funny looks from others at your table.
* You were in a loving relationship and spoke up about what you needed even thought it might have been scary.
* You were with your family and stayed centered in your truth, even for a few moments.
* You found some moments of peace in the midst of chaos.
* You realized that you are creating your own chaos and chose to shift to a more centered, trusting mindset.
How did that feel? Were you able to experience the fun, connection, love, and indulgence without loosing yourself completely? I bet you were!
What is your NEW STORY? Try shifting to an “AND Mentality”. Fill this sentence in as many times as you need to:
I can __________________________ AND __________________________.
Ex: I can feel connected to my family and be myself. I can indulge and stick to eating healthy.
HIGHEST SELF HOLIDAY TIPS
1. Visualization & Intention
Take a few moments to visualize how your ideal holiday would feel. Really allow yourself to feel it. What would your interactions with family and friends be like? How would you navigate moments of overwhelm? How would you feel in your body? How much quiet time for yourself away from the action would you have and what would it entail? What foods would you enjoy? What would it feel like to take responsibility for feeling nourished, loved and happy? Now set intention around this. Take 10 minutes to write your intention in your journal, focusing on what you intend to experience and create.
2. Practice Self Care
The holidays can be a time when we focus on everyone but ourselves, especially when we host people in our homes, attend other people's parties and buy gifts for others. If we are depleted, running on empty, scattered or resentful however, we won't have a lot to give, or we'll give it in a way that doesn't serve anyone, including ourselves. Practice taking some time out for yourself when you feel overwhelmed - sit quietly in solitude for a few moments, take a epsom salt bath or a cat nap in the winter sun. Make sure to keep yourself grounded and rejuvinated so that you can give freely and fully from your heart.
My dear friend and colleague, Alexandria Marcus, a Holistic Food Psychology Coach and owner of Heart Food, taught me a wonderful tool based on the work of Geneen Roth that I'd like to share with you: The Self Care Contract. Thank you Alexandria!
Create a contract with yourself that you can look at each morning to remind yourself of your intention. I take 10 minutes to write my Self Care Contracts on the plane whenever I travel somewhere. It can be simple. For example:
I, Rony Gerzberg, in honor of experiencing my Highest Self in every experience, hereby promise to myself the following on this trip:
1. I will take 5 minutes every morning to meditate, even if it’s in the bathroom. I know that this creates relaxation, clarity, breathing room and purpose for me.
2. I will practice being loving with myself and others, remembering that this is a meaningful time of year with lots to be grateful for.
3. When others comment on how my diet is so healthy and different, I will remember not take it personally and I will kindly fill them in on how I eat/live so that we may have an opportunity to feel more connected. I will see it as an opportunity to honor my truth.
4. I will exercise once over the long holiday weekend.
You get the idea. Remind yourself of the payoff for each item. I.e., that it will allow you to feel alive, grateful, handling your basic needs, etc.
3. Practice The Rule of 80/20
Stick to your path 80% of the time and don’t worry about sticking to it 20% of the time. In other words, 80% of the time, eat the foods that heal your body, practice speaking authentically, or caring for yourself first. Then 20% of the time, indulge – treat yourself to the cheesecake, zone out from being present and give to others instead of yourself. The 80/20 Rule is wonderful to practice any time we are in a process of healing, self-growth or on the path of living our truth. During the holidays, which are a particularly fun and special time, modifying the rule to 70/30 is equally beneficial. Bottom Line: try to be conscious most of the time while giving yourself a break and allowing yourself indulge and relax!
4. Pause and Breath
Before choosing the extra serving that will send you into a food coma, pause and take a breath. Before compromising yourself for the sake of going along with the group dynamic, pause and take a breath. Before disappearing into the black hole of stress and overwhelm, pause and take a breath. Then choose. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does J.
5. Be Curious and Playful
Get curious around your Highest Self. Allow yourself to have fun with noticing when it’s easy for you to choose consciously and when you get triggered. Being present and conscious is not about being perfect! It is about simply honoring the parts of us that we love and are growing as often as we remember to do so, and doing so in a loving, open-minded and joyous way.
6. Dare To Be Proud Come January
What if you really could make choices that would have you experience the best holiday season possible? Allow yourself to experience the major payoff of empowered choices! Take a risk this holiday season and try it out. How good will you feel on the other side of the holidays? I can guarantee you’ll feel proud of yourself, confident, more in love with your body and more in love with your family, friends and community! I invite you to create a conscious holiday season for yourself and see how it sets you up strong, proud and ready to meet January on the right foot!
There is so much to be grateful for this holiday season. There is an abundance of healthy, seasonal food at your fingertips. There is no shortage of love all around and within. And there is plenty of opportunity to practice engaging the muscles of your Highest Self!
Here is to a healthy, happy and fun Thanksgiving with your Highest Self!