‘Tis the season of “Giving”!
Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!
And a partridge in a pear tree....
Most of us are familiar with this popular holiday song, The Twelve Days of Christmas. Everything from five golden rings to ten lords-a-leaping makes for quite the Christmas gift list.
I decided to come up with my own version of gifts for Christmas with something meaningful and special to each. I hope you enjoy this message from the heart and will share these special gifts with those on your holiday list.
The following are the greatest gifts you can give to yourself. Since, when you give to yourself, you give to others! You share it in your heart! They feel it in theirs! That is what this season is about!
You may wonder what these gifts have to do with “Health and Wellness”, but isn’t that what these past month’s articles have been teaching us—We are not just physical beings! “Wellness is achieved when body, mind, spirit are in harmony”.
Here are 12 gifts for you!
In college most of us are searching for our purpose and direction and have many options! It’s been said, "If you dedicate your life to love, you will be happy and everything will fall into place perfectly."
Now, after years of life experiences, we realize love is our true nature, and no matter what else we do, “All We Need is Love”, as John Lennon wrote!!
This time of year, when all of Nature rests, we speed up our lives and stress our minds and bodies. Stress creates mental tension. There is no pill, powder, potion or lotion that will get rid of stress.
To relieve stress we can use drugs. Try nutrition and exercise. Watch our diet. Reduce sugar. Take a walk. Sing. Dance. The most impressive stress reliever is an attitude of gratitude.
Blessing what is in your life reduces stress. Be grateful consciously for everything you have in your life. It is an essential element to optimal health.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy
Challenged by unexpected adverse circumstances, such as the news of cancer or the death of a loved one, we first attempt to deny reality. Subsequently, we get angry, bargain with life, become depressed and finally, accept it (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, "the stages of grief"). Then, something, difficult to define, an intangible, begins to breathe life back into us. This is the invisible "hope."
It allows a young Japanese promising ballerina, Ma Li, who lost her arm in a car accident and subsequently tried to kill herself, dance with a young Japanese man, Zhai Xiaowei. Zhai lost his leg after he fell off a tractor at 4 years of age. Ma Li convinced Zhai who was training to be a cyclist that he could dance. Today, they dance beautifully together in exquisite harmony balancing each other's deficits with their remaining strengths. Watch them perform on You Tube (She without an arm, he without a leg - ballet - Hand in Hand).
Indeed, "Hope arouses, as nothing else can arouse, a passion for the possible”, William Sloan Coffin, Jr
With silver armor gleaming, the noble warrior stands immovable. Defiantly outnumbered, facing his foe, he's Hollywood's embodiment of courage and fearlessness. A true hero.
Most of us will never experience that moment of resolutely staring down death. And we may not consider ourselves courageous or fearless; especially in today's world with never-ending reports of catastrophe, violence, and uncertainty. It all seems so daunting and dangerous.
Movie heroes aside, there is a more genuine and eternal fearlessness within us that lies at the heart of our spiritual being. True courage walks softly. Embraces gently. Speaks kindly. It is far more potent than mere physical might. It doesn't combat, it alchemizes by fearlessly loving the seemingly unlovable. Transforming pain into peace; discord into harmony.
While not Hollywood super-heroes, we do have within us the power to melt every fear, conflict, prejudice, or suffering. Courage is love's face in action.
According to Wikipedia, “awareness is the ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, thoughts, emotions, or sensory patterns. More broadly, it is the state or quality of being aware of something.”
So, are you aware of what you are thinking, what you are feeling? Being aware of what is going on inside affects our health and our relationship to the world around us. Be more consciously aware!
Norman Vincent Peale says, “Change your thoughts and you change your world”.
Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it this way: “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you”.
6. Silence - Listening...
One of the most empowering and healing gifts you can give to someone is the gift of yourself, being totally present and listening. By that I don't mean merely holding your breath and waiting to speak the minute the other stops. Nor do I mean the need to jump in and fix, change, save or control another person's experience.
Listening that is most healing is listening from the heart. Not just to content, but to intent. Listen to what others are feeling. You don't necessarily have to do anything. Just hear it and let the other person feel ‘heard’.
Listening is the foundation of intuition. Listening is the gift that keeps on giving.
When we think of "forgive" or "forgiveness" we often perceive it as an act we bestow upon someone who has wronged us. We are in some way absolving them of some act that was unacceptable or inappropriate. But on a spiritual level, forgiveness has very little to do with another person and much more to do with ourselves. Forgiveness is about allowing ourselves to move past a situation and no longer hold negative feelings towards it. We are choosing to let go of the anger and/or frustration and embrace a sense a peace that is truly a gift to ourselves.
There is another dimension to forgiveness: There are times that we acknowledge that we have done things that we are not proud of and feel a sense of guilt. It's important that we come to terms with guilt and forgive ourselves. We need to remember that we are worthy of the same forgiveness we give to others. And in forgiving ourselves, we move forward without guilt or burden, and truly open ourselves to a new world of possibilities.
Laughter is a great gift to the world. We seldom have any idea what people we meet are dealing with, what might be troubling them. The kindness of your laughter might be someone's saving gift for the day.
Your laughter is never wasted. One person will always benefit immediately--you! Every smile, every laugh is a signal to your inner self: I am a happy person, goodness is all around. Such thoughts affect your brain chemistry and nervous system.
And there is an immediate ripple effect into the world around you. The cutting edge of neuroscience is the recent discovery of mirror neurons---brain cells dedicated to mirroring the emotions of others. We are literally hard-wired to respond to others!
You don't know when your good nature and cheerfulness will make a big difference to someone. Foster an attitude that promotes smiling, a wonderful gift to all you meet.
How do we know it's time to make a change in our lives? We may feel stiffness ; a pain in our chest; or stuck in our inability to move forward with a decision. Here are a few exercises I do when I feel the urge to make a change.
One suggestion is to dive deep into a daily practice of meditation. Empty the mind as much as possible. Use a mantra that you resonate with, chant, or simply concentrate on the in breath and the out breath. Take some deep breaths and let go of your day. Let go of your position in life. Let go of your dilemma, and sit in your heart and rest there. When we surrender our attachments, we allow a new awareness to surface. Making small changes in our present behavior can result in bigger changes later.
Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.
Mindfulness is also an attribute of consciousness long believed to promote well-being. Large population-based research studies have indicated that the construct of mindfulness is strongly correlated with well-being and perceived health. Studies have also shown that negative feelings and worry contribute to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, and that mindfulness-based interventions are effective in the reduction of this negativity.
Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.
When I spend time with my grandchildren, they bring immense joy into my life. The best thing about being a grandparent is when you‘re with your grandkids you’re totally present and involved with them.
Joy is one of those emotions you feel when you are present in the moment. It is experienced not in the grandiose but in the minute. It can be achieved from little things which are otherwise insignificant: Walking in the snow with a good friend, playing with a grandchild, partaking in a holiday meal with family, decorating a tree. Joy is meant to be shared; it is not in things. It is in us!
I think it's wonderful that there is a short period of time each year when we focus on peace as a priority.
This quest for peace is found at the heart of all spiritual traditions, whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu. This message is for each of us regardless of religion. This is a time for all. We can refer to it as, "the peace that surpasses understanding."
This holiday season, may we find peace on earth and goodwill to all!!
These gifts work for the holiday season, but Wellness is a 365 day process. There is no reason why we cannot give these gifts to ourselves and apply them every day during the year.
Copyright 2015 Dr. Felicia Santelli. All Rights Reserved.