Make Yours a Mindful Holiday Season
Dec 01, 2011 05:59PM
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to what’s happening in the present moment, purposefully and without judgment. When we’re practicing mindfulness, we engage with life as an interested and curious observer, without any preformed views or attitudes about what we’re experiencing. A skill that everyone possesses, mindfulness can be strengthened through regular formal and informal practice. Put these suggestions to work for a mindful holiday season.
More Being, Less Doing
The mindset of constantly rushing to finish one thing in order to tackle the next is exhausting and stressful. Set an intention to “pause” your activity during the day and to notice your immediate experience. Designate a few special objects around your home, in your car and in your outdoor space as “mindfulness reminders.” When you notice one, let it remind you to stop what you’re doing or thinking, so that mind and body can fully experience the next few moments. Notice your surroundings— the smells, sounds, textures and temperature—as well as how your body feels and what you were just thinking. Take a few slow, conscious breaths, fully attending to each one. Explore using this present-moment focus through an entire day.
The holidays often involve engaging with large groups of friends, family and others that we may not know well. This is not part of our normal routine and can be challenging, especially if we encounter dormant emotional issues attached to relational dynamics within families. Often, these issues preoccupyour attention and affect the way weinteract with others. Experiment with bringing an openminded, genuinely curious attention to others. Without interrupting, be present, alert and aware when others speak, rather than allowing the habitual tendency to be preoccupied with your own views, opinions and anticipated responses. Notice how others react when they realize you are giving them your full, non judgmental attention.
What would happen if you brought the full attention of your senses and awareness to as many holiday moments as possible? Would you notice the smell of cinnamon and evergreen, the feel of outdoor breezes on your skin, the laughter of people you love or the softness of a warm sweater? When you allow yourself as many “noticing” experiences as possible during the holidays and practice intentionally building this skill, you are on your way to making mindfulness become second nature. You will find that mindfully focusing your attention on present moments is a gift to yourself and others that keeps on giving long beyond the holidays.
Madeline Ebelini, owner of Integrative Mindfulness, in Bonita Springs, teaches mindfulness-based stress reduction classes. For more information, visit IntegrativeMindfulness.net.