The holidays are supposed to be "the most wonderful time of the year," but for so many people, they instead are a time of stress and overindulgence. While we tend to over-consume in every way possible - from party foods to buying gifts we feel social pressure to give, many of us are left feeling rather empty by the time the new year rolls around.
Along with this emptiness, we often get caught up on what is lacking in our lives - whether it's money to buy special gifts, time to accomplish everything on our to-do lists, the right partner to celebrate with, etc. These feelings of deprivation can send us into the depths of depression at a time when we feel so much social pressure to be cheerful, which can then lead to further spirals of self-judgement and inner criticism.
The following meditation is inspired by a practice offered by Rick Hanson, who wrote the book Buddha's Brain, which is a fabulous introduction to the research neuroscientists have conducted on the effects of meditation and other contemplative arts. This meditation specifically builds up areas of our brain that are responsible for helping us feel safe, secure and that we have enough. Done daily, this meditation is like preventative medicine against the poisonous thoughts of lack, jealousy and greed.
In the recording below, we practice for about 10 minutes (beginning by connecting to the breath, and then proceeding through three sets of instructions), but know that you can do this meditation in less than two minutes on your own (spending about 30 seconds with each of the instructions). The more you practice, the more you build up your natural defenses to social pressures telling you that you must acquire new or be something different to find happiness and meaning in your life. Start today...whether you practice just once, or on an on-going basis, the results are noticeable and profound in my experience.