Ho, ho, no!

hohohoIn the Northern Hemisphere of the world, December is a time when the winter solstice is
celebrated. December 22, the first day of the solstice, is the shortest day of the year and
the longest night. From this day onward, we experience more and more light. This is a
time of year when a Pagan holiday called “Yule” was traditionally celebrated by Germanic and Scandinavian people. Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa and Diwali are some of the other traditions honoring light around the world. From ancient days, this time of year is a celebration of the birth and vital significance of the light within us.

This is a time of year when so many in the Western world are stressed to their limits, racing around, attempting to honor obligations that are often driven by social pressures and the commercialism of gift giving. It can be a time when so many are aware, more so than other times, of being alone and isolated. The cold in the northern climates can heighten all of this.

I opted out of the commercial parts of this time of year a long time ago. One of the things I discovered is that I value being with family and friends. Another great aspect of the winter season is the time I get to “go within”. This is not a practice that is exclusive to this time of year for me. I meditate year-round and continue to experience wonderful benefits from its practice. I gave up the pressure of exchanging gifts with others. Instead, I have researched worthwhile charities and social causes to donate time and money to. There are so many organizations that are accomplishing great things in the world. Call me ‘Scrooge’, if it makes you happy. I believe that if more people allowed themselves to really live consciously through this time of year, there would be more peace in the world. Having taken some of the intense pressure of this time of year off my shoulders, I now experience a level of peace that is wonderful.

In the process of going through the winter months in a different way, I made a valuable discovery. It is a really simple, easy thing to do. So simple, in fact, that you could easily dismiss it. This gem that I stumbled upon is not new to me. It’s golden.

Here’s how this works: Sit quietly, close your eyes. Its best if you can be in a place where there are no distractions or interruptions. Gently and deeply breathe in and out. All you need do is to focus your full attention on your breath as it goes in and out. Let any thoughts that come up go as they arise. Just bring your attention back to observing your breath.

That’s it! Don’t underestimate the power of this. You can sit this way for 5 – 20 minutes, once or twice a day or whenever and as often as you need. Here are just some of the things I found it did for me and so many of my clients; stabilized blood pressure, improved sleep, improvement of overall physical health, reduces stress, deepens relaxation, increases creativity and productivity, increases happiness and peace of mind.

While this exercise might seem like nothing, the effects are quite profound. Test this out for yourself. Wishing you a happy, peaceful, productive solstice and winter.

The entire contents of this article, photos and column is copyright © 2015 by George Koury. No part of this may be used without written permission from him.

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