By Rev. Carol Bodeau
I am a bit stunned to realize that this year is nearly over. And what a year it has been! There have been so many ups and downs in our world, and these impact each of us personally in a variety of ways. I think it’s been a bit overwhelming for many of us.
But this time of year is meant to be a re-set. The holidays, ideally, give us a chance to prioritize family and friends, and the sorts of deep connection and beauty we long for. In a recent service, I spoke about the many ways that cultures and religions help people shift out of ‘high beta-brain’—the brainwave frequencies associated with anxiety, stress, and general upset—and into more calm, curious modes in low-beta and alpha states. Throughout time, people have used meditation, prayer, physical practices such as yoga and tai chi, music and other modes to help them shift from the worry-brain to the receptive, calm, happy brain that we all sometimes crave.
I believe that this sort of shift is actually what we’re all seeking during the holiday season. The lights, the colors, the music, the scents, the ritual behaviors…these are all ways that, ideally, we shift out of our day-to-day stress modes and into a more joyful, playful, creative and restful way of being. But as we all know, many times the holidays have the opposite effect. They stress us out even more, as we overschedule and try to perform them perfectly.
So this year, perhaps we can make a commitment to help one another with that beta-to-alpha-brain shift. The trick is to take the performance out of it all, and get off the schedule merry-go-round, even for a few minutes. To allow those sights, sounds, and experiences to bring us fully into the present moment (rather than the next thing on our to-do list or schedule).
What’s your favorite way to shift into a calmer, happier, more receptive way of thinking and being? Maybe it’s baking cookies, or listening to music, or watching a familiar movie. Maybe it’s looking at beautiful lights, or hanging out with family and friends.
Whatever it is, during the coming weeks of holiday busy-ness, I wish you moments of deep, unscheduled relaxation and ease.
Rev. Carol Bodeau