Sunday, November 27, 2016

Beginning a Meditation Practice Over the Holidays

by Catherine McLaughlin and Jen Perry

The holidays are a special time of year. Extra time with family and friends, invitations to parties and events, giving and receiving gifts, all that delicious food - but adding all the “extras” of the holidays to an already busy life can leave us feeling anxious and stressed. Here’s how meditation can help:

When we’re stressed, our brain’s amygdala is triggered. The amygdala houses the “fight or flight” response and is responsible for feelings of fear and anxiety. Research shows that a regular meditation practice decreases the size of the amygdala, and strengthens areas of the brain responsible for self-regulation, cognitive flexibility, planning, problem solving, emotion regulation, learning, memory, and may help to stave off depression and PTSD symptoms. So all the stress and anxiety from too much wrapping, traveling, seeing relatives, and partying can be managed through meditation.

But where should you start? Here are a few steps for beginning a meditation practice:

1. Start slow. Set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier and build meditation into your morning routine. You’ll know when it is time to increase your meditation time.

2. Be flexible. If something unexpected happens one morning and you can’t meditate, find another time during the day. Over your lunch break at work, in your car in the grocery store parking lot, before bed - any time you can squeeze in 10+ minutes of quiet.

3. Focus on the breath. When you sit quietly for the first time, you will probably notice how noisy your thoughts are. That’s okay! Notice them, like a train moving through a station or clouds floating by in the sky. The thoughts will move along, and you will return to your breath.

4. Stick with it! Sitting still with our thoughts is not easy. It may take a couple of tries to feel comfortable.

With everything going on, it may sound strange to add one more thing - but really, what’s one more line on your to-do list? And when it’s something proven to manage stress and anxiety, it may just be the perfect time to begin a meditation practice.

For more information on Catherine McLaughlin, call 267-800-5073 or visit  For more information on Jen Perry, call 215-292-5056 or visit 


Articles on Meditation:
Things to Know about Meditation at
A Productive Life: Meditation Guide at

How the Brain Changes when you Meditate at

No comments:

Post a Comment