What do you really want to offer your customers this holiday season?

As retailers of New Age products, of course you want to provide the latest titles, interesting gifts, and  enlightening information.  But we’ve all felt the frustration of getting so caught up in the nuts and bolts of  the business stuff , that sometimes we feel we just don’t  have much energy left over for the things that are really important. …  Like being fully present. Radiating an aura of calmness and serenity.   And just plain enjoying what you’re doing.

Let me ask you something.  Do you remember your company’s mission statement?  How about your own personal mission statement….have you ever taken time to create one?   Then, next question…As you get caught up in the day-to-day challenges – from purchase orders & payroll to personnel and customer demands – are you able to keep the Bigger  Picture in mind? Are you able to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing?   Are you able to find that quiet place within, where you feel truly grateful for the opportunity to serve?

Being a member of the New Age community, of course you know what  the “karmically correct” answer is. But  if you’re still in a human body, the honest answer  to those last three questions is probably “Sometimes, yes…. Sometimes, no!”

We all have times when we experience that wonderfully serene “flow state”, when we feel at One with All That Is. We feel a sense of ease, knowing everything is in Order; our hearts are open, and we feel a deep and profound connection with everyone we meet.  It’s easy to feel gratefulness and a sense of purpose under those conditions.
But what about those days when you didn’t have time for your morning meditation?  Or even if you did, that was 4 hours and  47th phone calls ago, and you’re in need of a little “refresher”?  What do you do when you know your fuse is shorter than usual because you’re just plain exhausted… when what you would really like is for everybody to just go away and leave you alone for awhile, (but you know that’s not gonna happen!)?

May I suggest putting into practice – right then, on the spot – what you know makes you feel so    much better.

Try this:  for the next 10 seconds, just BREATHE. Close your eyes, and while inhaling slowly and deeply, count, “One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand four, one thousand five….,  and exhale slowly as you count “…one thousand six, and so on to ten.  Simple, right?    OK, so DO IT!   (Now!!)

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If  you didn’t take those 10 seconds, why not?  Perhaps because it’s too passe? (“Oh, yeah, breathing…I learned about that in the 60’s!”) Well, despite all our high tech advances and ongoing evolution of consciousness,  we still need to BREATHE – deeply, fully  – if we really want to “Be Here Now”!

Breath, after all, is a rather essential element of our Being.  Yet how often are you really aware of your breathing patterns?  How often throughout your day do you consciously use your breath as an aid to relaxation?

Given that thought is such a powerful creative force, adding the power of simple affirmation can make this 10 second re-centering session even more effective.  Try it again, this time instead of counting, as you inhale, mentally repeat “I AM…”, and as you exhale, “RELAXING…”.  Do this to the same slow, deep inhale/exhale.  Try it….now…and feel your body respond.   (C’mon, it’s only 10 more seconds!)

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So…if you’ve done one or both of these exercises, good for you. If you’re still holding out… why?!!  Be honest with yourself. Are you really so perfectly relaxed that you couldn’t benefit from a couple of deep breaths?  Or do you tend to put off taking care of yourself because you just don’t have time?  (20 seconds?!!!)
Remember, the times when we feel we’re just too busy to relax, are when we need it most. Life is too short to keep putting off what we know in our hearts we need.  Ultimately, the greatest service we can provide is to care for ourselves…deep, soul-nurturing care.  For then our vessel is full.  Only then can we fully give to others

When customers come into your store, they feel the energy of the space (whether they consciously realize it or not).  If you, as owners/employees are calm, centered and coming from a place of love and service, they feel it.  If you’re stressed out and sending out disharmonious “vibes”, they feel that, too.

We all know this.  But the point is, we often get so busy that we just don’t do what we know we need to do to stay connected to the Higher Source of our health and well-being. We keep trying to push through, saying, “I’ll relax after the first of the year…” or whatever the current crisis time frame is.

But  our body/mind/spirits don’t operate well that way.  They need daily nurturing, in the form of relaxation/meditation, exercise, nutrition, sleep(!)…They can’t be continually compromised to compensate for the over-committed, often relentless lifestyles our culture has created.

So, now, setting all new age guilt aside, don’t beat yourself up for the times you didn’t honor the temple you live in.  Just renew your intention.

As the holidays approach, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to put your commitments into practice. A few suggestions:

No matter how tired you are, or how busy you are, start the day with a moment of gratefulness. Asking yourself, “What (and/or who) do I have to be grateful for?”  is a wonderful way to quickly open your heart and start your day off on the right note. Anyone who has faced a life-threatening illness will most likely readily remind you that simply having the opportunity to be here on this wonderful Mother Earth for another day is indeed something to be grateful for. Don’t take it for granted.  Let it fill your heart with song.

Regular exercise, is of course, optimum, but even if you can’t fit in a full workout activity, at least
s t r e t c h your body somehow. Just a few simple stretches or yoga postures (while breathing!) can make a huge difference. And I’ve found it inspires other people to do the same – kinda like yawning!

As the day wears on,  if patience wears thin, practice a simple breathing exercise like the one I suggested above, mentally repeating  “I AM…..relaxing” or “I AM….letting go”… or whatever works for you. Deceptively simple, incredibly effective.

If burnout starts effecting your interactions with customers or co-workers, ask yourself, “How can I be of greater service in this situation?”  It’s amazing how that simple question (which is also really a statement of intention) can instantly transform the nature of an interaction for the highest good of all concerned.

And remember, you always have a choice. You’ve chosen, on some level, to be exactly where you are, doing exactly what you’re doing, to learn exactly what you need to learn.  So embrace what is.  Let go of any resistance.  ANY resistance…even those subtle little thoughts like “I wish I didn’t have to…” or whatever yours sound like.  Whenever you become aware of any such thoughts,  forgive yourself, and simply choose again.  “I choose to be right here, right now…to be of service as fully as I can.  To be a Light, so that all with whom I come into contact may feel the peace, the power and the presence of  that Light.”

Awareness…choice…intention…forgiveness…gratefulness.  These are wonderful touchstones to help regain that sense of peace when life gets a little crazy.

Remember, the greatest gift we can give is who we are.  Be Light!

Written for New Leaf Distributing, Fall, 2000

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