Holiday Stress - Is It the Time of Year, or
Is It the Time of Man?
by Bill Douglas, Founder of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day
WORD COUNT: 1,056
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 hyperspeed, but really our lives in general are now in hyperspeed anyway, which can make the holiday's seem almost unmanageable. However, there is hope, if we can understand the problem.
Change is stressful according to psychological studies, even good change. Which explains why the holidays are so stressful, because we are taken out of our normal routines and challenged to "perform" in new and abnormal ways with friends and family and with society in general. This holiday pressure is a microcosm of what is happening with humanity. Bill Joy, Chief Scientist for Sun Microsystems, explained that with the advent of the information age life around us began changing at an extraordinary pace. In fact, the speed of change is not just doubling every eighteen months, but doubling "exponentially" every eighteen months.
This deafening roar of change is the reason that 70% of illness is now due to stress, and the six leading causes of death are stress related. Yet, change is often very good, and actually it is not the change that is damaging us. It is our inablility to adapt to change, by loosening our "grip" on old patterns so that we can flow more easily into the ever changing future more happily and healthfully. Just like with the holiday's if we can "ungrip" our hearts and minds from the delusions of what we think the holidays are "supposed to be like," we can then enjoy our relatives and friends more, because we dropped our "expectations" of how they should behave. This is what ancient Taoists and Zen philosophers referred to as being "here and now." This is sitting still in the eye of change's hurricane.
So, how do we actually do this. Following are a few T'ai Chi / Qigong tips for loosening your grip on the holidays, and on life in general. First of all, "remember to breathe." This one is the most critical. In fact, 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, and observe as they fill up through the top as the upper chest inflates. Good. Now, on the sighing exhale observe as your body "relaxes" 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.
At first it will seem as though the torso muscles are working to expand the torso open for air, and then forcing the air out. But, little by little as you relax open to the breath, and allow every atom of your being to relax into your chair as it lets go of the breath and lets go of every muscle in your head, face, shoulders, and toros . . . it will begin to feel as though the breath were beginning to breathe you, and all you need to do is to allow the body to relax out of the way of the breath.
The tip of the tongue is placed on the roof of the mouth so that the breath comes in through the throat 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 tonge 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 "effortlesness" permeates every tissue and field within and around your body.
This openness feels almost like the wind can blow right through you. As you practice this, 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. And 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, you can allow your mind to release its expectations and obsessions as they come up. Allow 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. New times, changing times, offer great challenges. By staying loose, opening to our breath, filling with the healing energy of lightness, we can become vessels of health and hope for our lives and for the world around us. We can begin to be filled with the light and hope that the holidays represent. Thereby actually living and breathing goodwill and goodchear, rather than just mentally regurgitating the ideas on greeting cards. 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, in the Free Lessons Section, which offers a "Sitting Qigong Relaxation Therapy Session." You can use this now, and through the holidays while sitting in front of your computer. This sight also offers a Find T'ai Chi in Your Area section that lists local schools in most US states and fifty countries worldwide.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Bill Douglas is the Tai Chi Expert at DrWeil.com, Founder of World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day (held in 60 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. Bill is the author of the ebook, How to be a Successful Tai Chi Teacher (Namasta University Publishing). You can learn more about Tai Chi & Qigong, search a worldwide teachers directory, and also contact Bill Douglas at http://www.worldtaichiday.org