Handling Holiday Stress

My focus this week in class has been a combination of translations of Romans 12:1. My version goes something like this. We have this treasure in earthen vessels -- this shining light, this gift, God's presence, his spirit, this hope. It comes from God, but we carry it in fragile jars of clay. And during the holiday season, stress tends to pile up in these fragile earthen vessels. If we don't find ways to empty the stress, the pressure may cause undue damage to our clay pots. Your shoulders hurt, your back aches, your head throbs. Your body holds the stress. In class over the next few weeks, we will be exploring ways to empty the vessel of stress.   

Try this centering breath technique. If you can practice it for even five minutes a day, it will help reduce your stress level. 

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Lie on your back (on the floor, a couch, or your bed) with support under you head and neck and a blanket, pillow, or bolster under your knees. Bring your attention to your breath. Aim for an easy, smooth, breath. Scan your body for any places you might be holding tension. The usual culprits are the jaw, shoulders, abdomen, and hips. Focus your breath into any tense area and consciously relax your body. 

As you feel yourself settle into the floor, take a long, slow, expansive inhale. Then exhale with the same long, slow control. Filling completely on the inhale. Emptying completely on the exhale. Then return to your normal, easy breathing for three or four breaths. Repeat this pattern up to ten times. One lone inhale. One long exhale. Three or four normal breaths. 

When you are ready to get up, roll to your side. Remain here for three or four breaths. Slowly press yourself upright. Take three or four breaths here before you stand up. 

Try it in bed and see if it will help you get to sleep.