“Keep Calm and Carry On”

by Dr. Ellen Cullman, FLT Columnist

Are you still whirling from the holiday bustle? Is it time to unwind from the stressful pace of the holiday season? For me, it’s a challenge. In fact, it takes me time to notice I am still sprinting in my mind with holiday energy — necessary energy I needed then but not now. All the celebrating and holiday obligations are long past, yet I am keeping mindlessly busy out of a habit that has already served its purpose. For me, by all appearances, “things” are back to normal except for leftover holiday mental-clutter. I need to shift, slow down and with awareness properly enter 2015.

Do you see yourself in any of this? If so, how do you slow down? Perhaps you would like to join me in a mindfulness meditation that ushers you out of the holiday whirl and into 2015. It merely requires you to breathe and “exercise” your consciousness to observe each breath for five to 10 minutes.

Find a calming ringtone on your cellphone timer and a private place with a comfy chair. Sit down and take a minute to allow your body to feel at ease. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and then naturally allow your breath to find its rhythm of flowing in and out. Stay focused on your breath — in and out, in and out. It is not work; it is just breathing. It is allowing your mind and body to do the work for you.

Below are several phrases adapted from Breathe, You Are Alive by Thich Nhat Hanh. Setting your timer for 5-10 minutes, slowly repeat in your mind the verses to help you stay focused on your breath. When you notice your thoughts beginning to whirl again, nonjudgmentally return to the phrases and continue noticing your breath.

1.  Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.

2.  Breathing in a long breath, I know I am breathing in a long breath.

3.  Breathing in a short breath, I know I am breathing in a short breath.

4.  Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body. Breathing out, I am aware of my whole body.

5.  Breathing in, I calm my whole body. Breathing out, I calm my whole body.
When you finish, notice the calmness radiating inside of you. Spend a few minutes observing it and placing the pleasurable feeling in your memory. When the day becomes hurried, return to that memory and carry on. Any time you need to, find your calmness again by tapping into its memory. Doing this breathing exercise daily makes tapping in when necessary a snap. Now you have learned how to “Keep Calm and Carry On!”

See all of Dr. Cullman’s columns at http://www.firstlocaltoledo.com/columnists/dr-ellen-cullman.  Email mindfuleatingcoach@gmail.com or call 419-494-7699 for information about coaching services.