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Are you grieving a loss during the holidays, feeling drained or lonely? Effective breathing exercise just for you

It's almost December 24th. This might be a magical, white (depending on where you live), and luminous time, and at the same time a difficult season that reminds us of lost loved ones and having those awkward family reunions. For me, it is a combination of both: bright and sad -trying to find the balance so the scale moves towards the first. Since I was born I celebrated Christmas with my mom, when others exited my life it was always her and me and we were partners in crime for so many years. She was originally from Germany and the tradition there is just beautiful with the Christmas markets, crisp weather, and Christmas Eve gift-giving under a candle-lit tree. So many memories in different countries, always together, going through thick and thin, always a true team. 

Just like spring has an ending our life together did too, way too soon yet a part of me knows it was the right time. Our last Christmas together was marked by the sorrow of the disease and the despair of being confronted with the end of life, yet we both made a silent pact to bring as much normalcy to our favorite holiday as possible. I decorated our Christmas tree, put on festive music, and we had one final gift exchange. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's were spent by her bedside and it took every ounce of willpower not to cry all day. But we made it, we were together until the end. 

So here we are again, it's Christmas and she is no longer here, at least not physically. I have been debating what to do on Christmas Eve, perhaps I'll stay home with my fur-family and order some Indian food. What I know for sure is that I will be watching the sunset at the shore and then I will decide what to do next. I am not sad, perhaps a little melancholic, and just need this time by myself, reflecting and being grateful without noise from the outside world. There might be those who will not understand this but I reached a point in my life where I no longer feel the need to explain myself or my choices, I just am. I see beauty in silence, in remembering the magical life we shared, not with sorrow but with joy. As I write this I have a wonderful Christmas-scented candle flickering and an aromatic tea and truly appreciate the gift to use this meditative time to paint and connect with my creativity.

I dedicate this post to all you beautiful souls spending the holidays or part of it by yourselves. To those who are grieving a loss or caring for a loved one that is at the end of life. You are not alone, there are millions of us looking for some peace in the middle of chaos.

I do understand it can be difficult and tensions might arise, alone or not. If you find yourself experiencing some tension this holiday season, if you have lost a loved one around this time of the year, or simply get anxious around the holidays please know that you’re not alone. I’d love to share a breathing exercise that always calms and centers me. 

Find a quiet space and sit with your spine erect:

- Begin to inhale and exhale deeply through the nose

- On each inhale, expand the belly like a balloon

- Move the air up from the belly towards your rib cage and then fill your lungs

- While you breathe in, metaphorically inhale "hope"

- On each exhale, very slowly empty the lungs, then the belly

- While you breathe out, metaphorically exhale "sorrow"

- Do this breathing exercise for 3-5 minutes while you bring your attention and focus to the present moment

This is one of the most grounding and calming breathing practices that you can do. Don't strain, your lungs should feel comfortably full! You can do this breathing practice whenever you're feeling tension or anxiety.

Wishing you and your loved ones (here and already transitioned) much peace and love.

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