The best gift I received for the holidays was more presence… and no I don’t mean presents! I really wanted to make sure this season that I was as present as I could be for all of the celebrations, special moments and interactions with my loved ones. I wanted to show up fully rather than being partially focused on all the things I need to do, thinking about what’s happening next, and worried about what’s going on in the world.
Knowing how helpful it’s been in dealing with the stress of the past couple of years, I knew my best chance was to make an even bigger commitment to daily down-regulation. I typically do at least a 10-15 minute breathing practice, meditation, rollout or mobility practice each day. As the holidays approached, I allowed for these practices to take as long as they seemed to need to in order for me to feel calm and refreshed.
This was also a great support for reflecting on 2021 and looking toward 2022 with more clarity. Even if you’re not necessarily into New Year’s Resolutions, there is no denying that there is a certain energy this time of year. We can’t help but look back on the previous year and imagine the ways we’d like things to be different, how we want to grow, or things we’d like to experience this new year.
I think one of the biggest reasons resolutions can be off putting, or that we might perceive we haven’t stuck to them is that they are either past or future focused, and have very little connection to the present. We are resolved to stop doing something we’ve done in the past, or start doing something we haven’t done. Or we fixate on how we want things to be a year from now. So how do we take our reflections on the past year, and excitement toward the future and turn them into something we can experience in the here and now?
One of the ways that has helped me tremendously is this practice of balancing action with inaction to very deliberately include down-regulation every day. Down-regulation is different than just relaxation. True down-regulation should stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, allow your body to experience less muscle tension, and allow your mind a break from processing information. If you are worried this isn’t for you because you can’t possibly sit quietly and meditate with an empty mind, fear not! As I mentioned above, I will do a variety of breathing exercises, gentle self-massage rollouts, and slow mobility movements as part of my practice. And if you do feel inspired to meditate, you can try guided meditations. Don’t worry if your mind wanders; that’s what minds do and you’re not doing it wrong.
Just like the mythical Phoenix rises from the ashes to be re-born, every time we pause in purposeful down-regulation, like a savasana (which means corpse pose) in a yoga class, we give ourselves the chance to be re-born into taking purposeful action. We humans spend quite a bit of time in a strange zone where we aren’t fully switched on or switched off. We are busy doing all sorts of things, but not always present. When we try to relax we are still over-stimulated. When you regularly practice truly powering down, you’ll find you can power up even better and your actions will be more clear and purpose driven. The really great news is this can work for everyone - those who tend to try to do too much, and those who feel unsure what to do can find great clarity in those moments where our bodies and minds are at rest, even if just for a moment.
This year I am resolved to be present, in the present. See you there!
Strength & Love, Kati
PS - Join me for my Ignite Your Power Masterclass Saturday 1/15 or our Phoenix Retreat in Lake Arrowhead 2/3-6 for lots of guided down-regulation practices and ways to take purposeful action on the things that matter most to you!