Breathe through holiday stress with guidance from local meditation guru Wendy Soderman, founder of Breathe Modern Meditation. A recovering Type A and overachiever, Soderman took a leap of faith when she decided to pursue meditation. “I saw an article about a fitness retreat in Tulum, Mexico,” she says. “I was curious and longing to step away from agendas and schedules, so I went on a whim for my fiftieth birthday.”
With no distractions, Soderman got a taste of inner stillness and came home hungry for more. Thus began a journey of studying meditation around the world, from Sedona, Arizona, to a school in Rishikesh, India. Today, outside of her “day job” as founder and principal of The IDEAL School in Wellington, Soderman offers private coaching and holds daily classes at her downtown West Palm Beach studio. Here, she shares insight into and tips for staying calm during the holiday season.
Gift yourself joy. “Meditation can change the quality of your life. It’s a technique that you practice daily to train the mind to be in the moment, without judging thoughts or emotions as they surface. You are not your thoughts; therefore, you can learn to observe and let them go. Ten minutes of meditation a day for eight weeks will cause neurological changes in the brain [that] allow you to be less reactive and more productive.”
Find peace in the present. “Instead of getting lost in your mind’s expectations, creating anxiety and often disappointment, choose to breathe, be in each moment, and accept it as it is. Embrace it as the holiday that is happening now; there is no good or bad. Plan what you can in a joyful way, and let the rest unwrap as it will.”
Try it for yourself.
For beginners and in moments of crisis, Soderman recommends the “STOP” technique:
• Stop: When you detect stress or imbalance, simply pause.
• Take a breath: Notice the sensations of breathing. Your mind will settle as your body shifts away from fight or flight mode and back to the parasympathetic nervous system.
• Observe: Rise above it all to look at the situation from a mental distance. Recognize how you feel, without judgment.
• Proceed: Having shifted to a more mindful mode, go forward with compassion and take action that is skillful and appropriate to your situation.