At Earnest Eats, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to act earnestly, but that isn’t just in your personal interactions. Being earnest to yourself and your needs is an important part of that. Here are some ideas from our Mind-Body guru, Jenni Tarma on how to manifest what your heart needs this holiday season. Ideally, Thanksgiving is a time for relaxing, spending time with your family and connecting with your loved ones. In a slightly more realistic scenario, it’s usually not quite that idyllic: most of us deal with the stress of hosting large gatherings, executing elaborate meals, and traveling through busy airports. The pressures of the holiday season can make it difficult to keep your cool in hectic conditions, much less find gratitude and serenity in the midst of it all. How can we encourage feelings of contentment, even when circumstances are challenging? Here are a couple of my favorite tips for fostering an appreciative, satisfied mindset. While these techniques work year-round, I especially like to deploy them when things get busy around the holidays. Meditation in Sukhasana Sukhasana literally means Pose Of Happiness! Give this a shot even if you’re new to meditation. There’s no right or wrong way to do it: the idea is simply to take a moment for yourself, and observe how you’re feeling without judgement. One thing will definitely make things easier, though: get comfortable before you start, so you’re not distracted by an achy back or pins and needles in your legs. Here’s how. Take a seat anywhere quiet, and preferably with a door that you can close. You can sit in a chair, or cross-legged on the floor, but the main thing is to find a neutral position that feels effortless and natural (if you have tight hips or find yourself hunching forward, sit on a firm cushion, or a couple of folded blankets). Place your left hand on your heart, and your right hand on your belly, close your eyes, and allow your face to relax. Notice the weight of your sitting bones on the chair or floor, the support of your spine, and your head resting easily on top of your neck. It’s very common to tense certain parts of your body out of habit; consciously allow all unnecessary effort to drain out of you. Bring your attention to your breathing, gradually letting it settle into a slow, smooth flow of inhales and exhales. Notice the rise and fall of the right hand on your belly, the lift of the left hand as your ribcage expands. Imagine your entire upper body as a giant pair of lungs, expanding and contracting as you breathe into every nook and cranny of your torso. If your mind drifts, bring your focus back to your breathing, allowing other thoughts to meander in and out through the background. Gradually relax into a sense of physical wholeness, noting your ability to observe external stimulus without needing to react to it. Move just for the sake of it Determination and a competitive edge are some of the best assets you can bring to an athletic lifestyle. However, in the times when daily life is already challenging enough, it can help to reconnect with the original intentions of your exercise routine. Chances are, you started running, cycling or swimming just because it was fun, even exhilarating. Over time, though, that competitive streak can take over, and it’s easy to focus solely on improving your performance. Finding joy in movement is a great way to connect with the sense of fulfillment that comes from being physically active. Try this: on your next run, hike, or gym visit, make a decision to consciously remove any kind of goal or target from your workout. Leave the GPS watch at home and don’t fret about your pace. Don’t worry about racking up extra miles, and don’t even think about setting a PR. Instead, focus on moving with ease and observing how strong and capable you feel. Think about how lovely it is to be outside, and how lucky you are to have a functioning, healthy body that lets you engage in rewarding activities. Don’t force anything, and keep going only for as long as feels good. Afterwards, send your body a bonus thank you note in the form of some leisurely stretches, and proceed to bask in feelings of gratitude and contentment for the rest of the day. Pigeon pose This pose is one of my all-time favorites, period. We typically store emotions in our hips, so the outer hip stretch here helps to release any negative thoughts you might be holding onto. Forward folds also encourage introspection and calm, making this pose useful anytime you need a time-out, or just a moment to put things back in perspective. Starting on hands and knees, bring your right shin forward, and lay it down in front of you, flexing the foot as you do so. The angle of your shin is less important than finding an enjoyable sense of release here: you’re looking for a substantial but manageable stretch in the right outer hip. Lengthen the back leg straight out of the hip and untuck your toes. Take a big inhale as you reach up through your chest, then fold over your right leg as you exhale. You can rest your head on your arms, the floor, a blanket or a yoga block. Close your eyes, and allow your body to settle as though you were melting into the floor. Let your breath settle into an easy, natural rhythm, imagining it moving into any areas that feel tense or resistant. Notice the support of the ground underneath you, and your own ability to create a relaxed body and clear mind. Stay as long as you want, letting the pose deepen as you go. Take your time switching sides whenever you are ready. Take a deep inhale and exhale and don’t be afraid to bookmark this for easy reference over the next few weeks when you really need it. From all of us at Earnest Eats, wishing you a holiday season filled with peace and gratitude.
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