December is a time of year in which our sensations can be easily bombarded. It’s easy to get stressed about Christmas shopping, overcrowded malls, travel plans, holiday parties, familial obligations, and in some cases, snowstorms. The practice of being mindful is the intentional practice of focusing attention on one thing. Focused attention calms and settles the mind, and circumvents the rat race of disorganized, divided, and unfocused attention. It is a way to come back to the current moment and show up for everything the moment has to offer.
Here are three different ways of being mindful this holiday season:
Five minutes of breathing:
Sit quietly for five minutes and focus on the rise and fall of your breath. Every time you notice your mind wandering or your attention scattered, bring your attention back to the rise and fall of your breath. This may be a useful exercise to do after driving in bad traffic, being in a crowd, or after coming home from work.
Savor sensation: Take a few moments to take in the entire experience of the following:
- The taste of peppermint. Do you really taste peppermint when you eat it?
- Do you ever notice how the air changes as it grows colder? Try figuring out how the air smells or tastes. I’ve noticed the winter air to be crisp, bitter, biting, heavy, cold, damp, salty, and even woody.
- Pay attention to tastes and smells that you enjoy- in other words, don’t pass them up or take them for granted when you notice them.
Show up for the moment…even if the moment brings pain
Sometimes people experience a great deal of sadness during the holidays: Spending holidays alone, spending a “first” holiday after losing a loved one during the year, or being reminded of recent losses or relationships ruptures.
If sadness is part of your holiday, consider:
- Reflecting on what is important and meaningful
- Allowing yourself to grieve deeply and fully, to cry openly, to acknowledge everything you experience with your heart wide open
- Honor what has been lost
- Be gentle and tender with yourself
Singing, carols, generosity of spirit, pageants, and performances can move people deeply. If joy is part of your holiday
- allow yourself to be moved to tears
- fully experience, absorb, take in, and reflect on what you have
- share with others what you appreciate or love
- allow for the positive
- recognize times in your life in which things have been difficult- and how different they are for you now.
Wishing you a holiday in which your experiences are rich and meaningful- I will be back at my blog posting in 2012!