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December: Founder’s Muse

It’s official, the holidays are here! A BIG thank you to all who came out to support our charity classes for SOME on Thanksgiving. I hope that day served as a beautiful launch into this season, wherever you were celebrating.

For December’s muse, I wanted to offer tips to make this season brighter (and more manageable). Despite the festivities, garlands, and twinkle lights, the holidays can feel a bit, well, less than tranquil. To combat the chaos, I’ve sought to adjust my expectations and output over the years.

No more holiday cards. No more piles of gifts. No more trying to squeeze it all in. No more guilt. Simplicity has become my motto. The space between Christmas and New Year’s Day has become my reset button.

Over the years I’ve dabbled with ways to help the holidays feel more tranquil inside and out. While this list is not exhaustive, the suggestions are tried and true. My hope is that they’ll offer you a touch of tranquility, too!

1. Get outside. Brisk, fresh, outdoor air helps ground me. Take in the scent of pine trees and wood smoke. Time in nature builds on a sense of interconnection. This larger view helps put things in perspective.

2. Center yourself. During the hustle and bustle, it’s extra important to make time for self-care. Keep up your favorite centering practices such as sipping tea, sitting on a meditation cushion, writing in your journal, practicing on your yoga mat, or soaking in the tub.

3. Give. Gift your loved ones a batch of homemade jam, a beloved book, an artisanal treat from a small business, a box of their favorite tea (or whip up your own blend), or tickets to see an exhibit. Think useful and consumable. Volunteer. Donate to a special cause. Rescue an animal. Adopt an orangutan. Sponsor a farm animal.

4. Be kind. This time of year can be hard. Be gentle with yourself and others. Know we’re all doing the best we can. Practice loving-kindness meditation. This may have been a hard year. Honor your growth, lessons learned, and what’s to come. When you make a mistake, say to yourself “Bless my heart.”

5. Breathe. When you notice your shoulders creeping up toward your ears, your heart racing while stuck in traffic, or stress building, tune into your breath. Inhale to the count of four, exhale to the count of four, repeat. Again and again.

6. Travel lightly (and off-peak). Print this Tranquil Travel checklist. Save space by rolling your clothing. Choose layers perfect for mixing and matching, dressing up (pearls and heels) or dressing down (clogs and denim jacket). When possible, choose off-peak travel to avoid congestion.

7. Express gratitude. Take time to appreciate the little things: a warm bath, a steaming cuppa tea, a cozy bed, a devoted pet. Studies show that expressing gratitude can lower stress levels, help you sleep better, improve self-esteem, enhance empathy, and adjust your attitude.

8. Get moving. Exercise releases endorphins, reduces stress, and helps offset those extra holiday cookies. Put on your hiking boots or tennis shoes and hit the trails. Roll out your yoga mat and do a few sun salutations (yes, even when staying in a hotel or Grandma’s house). Grab your bike and begin pedaling.

9. Celebrate. If you’re feeling a bit of the bah humbug blues, put on your favorite holiday film, create a playlist of festive tunes (here’s one I created last year), go see a childhood treat such as The Nutcracker, and put up a few holiday decorations to evoke good memories.

10. Reflect + Dream. Review the year and list highlights and lessons learned. Create time to daydream about the new year. What do you hope to see, taste, touch, smell, and hear in the coming year? List everything that comes to mind and focus on the experiences you hope to have. Join me on December 31 for the Yoga + Mindfulness Mini Retreat and I’ll walk you through this process.

Wishing you a holiday filled with your favorite things. May this season be meaningful. Namaste.

P.S. Watch last year’s Facebook Live video on Tranquil Holidays.

Launching into the Holidays with Intention

When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.—G. K. Chesterton

I hope your launch into the “hollydaze” is filled with gratitude, exhales, and deep connection.

After teaching one of our Thanksgiving charity classes (thanks for supporting SOME), I created a collage spread about intention (see above image). It feels good to play in paper, washi tape, and pens again. I plan to spend more time this weekend curating—pulling images and words that resonate, then cutting them out to place on a future collage spread.

If you’d like to do the same, the next phase involves creating a collage with the words, images, quotes, paint swatches—anything you find that inspires—and gluing or taping them down.

The final phase is writing on or around the images by answering journal prompts or free writing. Here’s a video I made a few years ago that gives more insight into art journaling and a France travel art journal.

Since we’ve all heard about the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal, a fun spread could be around what you’re grateful for.

This holiday weekend offers an opportunity to shake things up and do things differently. Maybe for you this means sleeping in or traveling to grandma’s. Or maybe it means taking naps and losing yourself in a novel  or a restorative pose.

Listen deeply to what wants attention and allow yourself to drop into the holiday experience with intention. Set aside the smartphone, roll out your yoga mat, slow down, and savor. Even if it’s only a few minutes and means pumpkin pie for breakfast (my favorite thing about this time of the year).

Wishing you an ease-filled weekend that nourishes your soul. Hope to see you on the mat soon!

Kimberly Wilson

P.S. Below is a poem I found a few years ago and thought you, too, may enjoy!

Be Thankful Poem
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,
because it means you’ve made a difference.
It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.
—Author Unknown

Founder’s Muse: November 2017

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live them.—John F. Kennedy

Welcome to a brand new month at Tranquil Space. We have pumpkins, mums, twinkle lights, and, of course, tea and cookies to greet you.

Mark your calendars to help us celebrate 18 years of co-creating community and serving tranquility in the DMV on Saturday, November 11 from 10-1. I’ll bake vegan pumpkin scones, we’ll have cake, plus 20% off boutique and class passes at both studios. At our Dupont location, we’ll be hosting a TranquiliT trunk show. Please stop by, we’d love to see you!

As we move into the finale of this year, I like to hit the pause button to reflect on 2017 before the whirlwind of the holidays hit. I’ve just returned from hosting my annual Writing in the Woods retreat where writers of all levels took time to slow down and listen within. One prompt we explored was creating a wish list for the last two months of 2017. What’s on yours?

In Writing to Heal the Soul Susan Zimmerman writes, “Through writing, we discover unexpected particles of truth that light our path; we move through our grief mindfully, in a way that allows us to comprehend and integrate the experience into our lives, not just rush frantically on as the avalanche thunders around us. By going deep within to a place of honesty untainted by society’s ‘shoulds,’ our vision is enlarged. We gain perspective on our lives.”

Seeking clarity and perspective is a mindful way to practice yoga beyond the mat. Many mornings I reach for a notebook and pen, sink into a cozy black-and-white patterned chair, and release the cacophony of my mind onto the page. This is called journaling.

Studies show that journaling helps stimulate creativity, brings mindfulness to a wandering mind, process post-traumatic stress disorder, increase sleep, decrease stress and anxiety, and even decrease cancer symptoms.

I’ve been an avid pen-to-paper gal since grade school, when I’d observe my Gramma spending her evening toiling away in a notebook, detailing her day. So I, too, created a practice to highlight my day (typically revolving around tween crushes, upsets, or BFFs).

As a therapist, I often encourage clients to jot down emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations between our sessions. To note what triggered a reaction and to be a curious observer of their patterns. It’s powerful stuff and helps us see others and ourselves more clearly.

Maybe you start with a gratitude journal, keep it by your bedside, and list one thing you’re grateful for before going to sleep. This month we’ll be offering a gratitude challenge at Tranquil Space. As I dive into my Positive Psychology certificate course, gratitude is emphasized heavily as an important happiness tool.

Additional writing prompts include listing: three good things that happened in the past 24 hours and how you contributed to it happening, three challenges you are facing and one thing you can do to move each thing in a positive direction, three things you are grateful for in general (in the past or present), and three future gratitudes of things you want to happen in the future (written in the present tense).

Consider picking up a Moleskine and tote it with you everywhere you go (worked for Hemingway)! Or try a basic spiral-bound Mead notebook placed on your desk to reach for as needed. The point of the practice is to, well, make it a regular practice.

My favorite go-to prompt when I’m feeling stuck or find myself staring at a blank page longer than I’d like is, “How am I feeling right now?” I tap into it from all angles—mental, physical, spiritual, emotional.

Similar to any practice you begin—writing, yoga, meditation, knitting, cooking—it’s all about exercising the muscle regularly and creating a habit. Set aside a few minutes minutes to sit with your thoughts and note what comes up. Consider writing about dreams for the upcoming holidays, a dilemma you’re struggling with, or lists such as “what’s on my mind.”

Grab paper and pen and watch what unfolds. May our lives be an outward expression of our gratitudeNamaste.

P.S. If you’re free next Friday night, join me for Writing Lab. Bring your pen, paper, and a beginner’s mind!