Holiday Stress - Is It the Time of Year, or Is It the Time of Man?
By Bill Douglas
Life seems to compress as the holiday's get closer, and this shows us in no uncertain terms how "intense" our lives have become. Holidays put normal life into hyper-speed, but really our lives in general are now in hyper-speed anyway, which can make the holiday's seem almost unmanageable. However, there is hope, if we can understand the problem.
Research indicating that change is stressful, even good change, explains why the holidays are so stressful, as we are taken out of normal routines and challenged to "perform" in new and abnormal ways during holidays. Furthermore, modern life in general is changing at a mind-numbing pace. So, how do we adapt to change more healthfully? T'ai Chi / Qigong (Chi Kung) tips for loosening your grip on the holidays, and on life in general, include "remembering to breathe."
So, right now, place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, and then think of relaxing your torso open from the bottom abdominal area to allow the lower lungs to fill with air, observing as they fill up through the top as the upper chest inflates. Good. Now, on the sighing exhale observe your body "relaxing" the breath out from the top of your lungs all the way down to the bottom as your abdominal muscles relax back in...fully expending the air from the bottom of the lungs. Repeat this allowing the lungs to fill from the bottom all the way up to the top, and then relaxing the air out of the body from the top of the chest down to the upper pelvic muscles.
Although at first it seem as though the torso muscles work to expand the torso open for air, and then forcing the air out, little by little as you relax open to the breath, every atom of your being relaxes open to be breathed effortlessly. Every muscle in your head, face, shoulders, and torso...begins to let go, as though the breath were breathing you, and all you need to do is let go a little more with each sighing exhale.
The tip of the tongue placed on the roof of the mouth allows the breath in more gradually, rather than in one big open throated gush. Studies show this slow, gradual, inhale and exhale oxygenates the body much more effectively. As you breathe in the full breaths with the tip of the tongue on the roof of the mouth, your entire being relaxes open to the lightness of air, even the bones, organs, brain and heart. Then as you exhale every atom of your being can "let go" of everything it holds onto to release the loads and burdens of the mind, heart, and body to be exhaled into a healing lightness. You actually expand open with this lightness as an airy feeling of "effortlessness" permeates every tissue and field within and around your body.
This openness feels almost like the wind can blow right through you. Close your eyes so that you can feel internally the deep letting go as the bones themselves begin to release their grip on issues and tensions they may have unconsciously gripped. You will always find the more you let go, the more you can let go. As you approach the holidays or life beyond the holidays, allow your mind to release its expectations and obsessions as they come up. Let the world to flow to you and through you, rather than "reaching out" for outcome, and "holding on" to expectations. Often better opportunities are coming at us if we can let go of our grip on the past or illusions of the future.
By being "open" we may dream a much greater reality as it occurs, for the holidays and for our lives. By using holiday stress as a catalyst to breathe life and healing light into our clenching bodies, we can carry the promise of the holidays into our greater lives, breathing open to the goodness that waits to fill every aspect of our year and our lives.
You can experience a "Daily Dose of Bliss" by visiting www.worldtaichiday.org and clicking on "Free Online Lessons then "Sitting Qigong."
Copyright 2005 Bill Douglas
About The Author
Bill Douglas is the Tai Chi Expert at DrWeil.com, Founder of World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day (held in 50 nations each year), and has authored and co-authored several books including a #1 best selling Tai Chi book "The Complete Idiot's Guide to T"ai Chi & Qigong." Bill's been a Tai Chi source for The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc. You can learn more about Tai Chi & Qigong, and also contact Bill Douglas at http://www.worldtaichiday.org