Thanksgiving, which marks the beginning of the holiday season in the United States, is supposed to be a time where we come together to give thanks for the blessings and bounty we have received. However, the chaos of holiday travel, shopping for a large meal, or preparing for guests can distract us from the true meaning behind this season of gratitude.
There are effective ways to remain centered and energized during this busy time of year, including breathing and chanting techniques. Here are five activities to help you move through your day fully present with your heart open and feeling calm, peaceful, and productive.
Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
Begin each morning with a few rounds of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, a breathing exercise that steadies and calms the mind and body to help eliminate anxiety and stress.
Sitting comfortably, with eyes closed, place the index and middle fingers of the right hand between your eyebrows, your ring and little finger on the left nostril, and the thumb on the right nostril.
Pressing the thumb down on the right nostril, breathe out through the left nostril. Do not strain. Breathe in through the left nostril; then press it with the ring finger and little finger. Lift the right thumb and exhale through right nostril.
Inhale through the right side and at the top, press the right nostril closed with your thumb, and breathe out through the left nostril. Inhale through the left, and gently press the left nostril closed with the ring and little fingers, lift the thumb from the right nostril, and breathe out.
Keep moving through the pranayama for nine rounds, breathing in through both nostrils alternately.
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya Namaha (Chanting the Moon Mantra)
Chanting a mantra fills the environment, and you, with its energy. The Moon mantra is “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya Namaha,” and chanting this opens the heart to the blessings of gratitude. Slowly chant this mantra nine times, once a day, each day.
It's best to do this first thing in the morning to experience its benefits throughout the day. This mantra aids in attracting positive relationships, successful communication, and mental stability. Mantra chanting, like alternate nostril breathing, is a form of Pranayama and will help bring your mind into the present moment.
Phonetic Pronunciation: Om Na-mo Ba-ga-va-tay Va-su day-vai-ya Na-ma-ha
This ancient practice releases stress and induces deep rest, which supports balanced health in the mind, body, and spirit.
The practice of meditation is easier after alternate nose breathing or chanting because the mind becomes quiet following these techniques. Place your attention on your breath … and let go to enjoy the host of mind-body health benefits of meditation.
Give to Others
Many find the holidays a stressful time of year. Instead of reaching out, they withdraw, and isolate themselves. Volunteer your time at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or other charity. Go through your closet and donate extra coats, blankets, and warm clothing. Check out these five creative ways to feed the hungry. A simple act of kindness to others is a blessing to you as well.
Create a Vedic Gratitude Altar
Altars act as focal points for creating something positive in your life. Northeast energy is the confluence of the positive magnetic energy coming from the north and the positive solar energy that comes from the east. The Northeast energy is the most powerful and positive energy in your home and specifically supports your spiritual connection to the Divine and the unseen forces that guide your daily life. An altar built in this area of your home enhances that connection.
Creating an altar focused on gratitude sets in motion the energy of attraction and brings more of what you want into your life. Practicing gratitude helps you bounce back more quickly from challenging times, and strengthens the immune system. Gratitude can also strengthen your social relationships.
These five steps are powerful tools to use during the season of gratitude—and beyond. They will support you to keep your heart open, count your blessings, and remain energized and happy all year long.