Mindful Christmas (or anytime really!) Tools & Tips…
Whether you love this holiday season or not making it a mindful one is the best present to yourself and those around you! Here’s a few tips that may be of help…
For many of us this holiday period isn’t very holiday like – lots of travelling, yes; lots of relaxation, maybe not so much! We might find ourselves rushing around trying to see people, preparing for visitors, running around after kids and family… it’s easy for the the pressure to mount and stress to build. This is where staying present is our saviour! From our vantage point in the present moment we can catch ourselves before we’re lost in the chaos. And if we’re really present we can see who around us might need that extra hand, hug or nudge into the now. How do we do it… see no.2
Present Moment Reminders
If you’ve been practicing Mindfulness this time of year is like the ultimate training ground to really put your tools into practice. Try to give yourself some reminders to plant yourself in the present, when you become aware of the reminder all it takes is a few conscious breaths and a quick check in with yourself – if I’m particularly busy I might recite the words ‘here & now’ to myself a few times too.
Here’s a few things I use to remind myself…
• When my phone pings with any sort of ‘notification’
• When the doorbell rings
• When I go up and down stairs
• When I get in my car
Some people use alarms on their phones – there’s all sorts of things you can use, the more you do it the more second nature it becomes.
Chores not chores
There may well be a lot more chores to do over the holiday, more guests in the house means more washing up and tidying round… brilliant, a perfect opportunity to take a few moments to give the job at hand your full attention. When we give something our full attention it can help snuff out the voice that wants to moan about about having to do the chore. And if you’ve never given sweeping the kitchen floor your full attention then I whole heartedly recommend you give it a whirl. These chores may also provide a wonderful opportunity to spend time with a friend or family member who wants to help or that you want to help – if you can give the activity and them your full attention without any conditions of having to get the chore done then you may transform their experience too!
Stop, look, listen
For many people spending time with some family and friends can be challenging. For people I know who have just begun to practice Mindfulness it can be challenging as we begin to see our conditioning more clearly, we might find it difficult to watch old patterns play out before our eyes, or we simply get dragged back into it all! But I think its important that we remember that regardless of Mindfulness or where we perceive ourselves to be on our life’s journey these challenges face us all on varying levels. So taking a moment to stop – maybe this might need to happen mid conversation with friend or relative, or maybe do it before you enter a room. Stop, breathe and be on the very knife edge of now. Look – look gently at the situation you find yourself in, maybe at the person you are talking to or about to see, look at yourself and how you feel, not with judgement or a want to change it, just a gentle open look as though seeing it for the first time. Listen – this might mean listening to the person or people with you, listen openly, again trying to step away from judgement. Maybe you need to listen to yourself, step back and watch the passing thoughts or emotions without engaging in the minds chatter. Once you’ve stopped, looked and listened you might see a different way to go, a new way to deal with your situation.
When I was little and spent Christmas with my Dad he always made us get dressed on Christmas morning so that we could go out for a walk after we’d opened our presents. It’s a tradition I try to carry on for my kids – and I expect it was the same for my Dad – I do it as much for myself as for them! Getting outside is massively important for me, sometimes nothing else will enable me to find some clarity. It doesn’t have to be a huge walk up a hill (although that is my favourite!) it can be a walk round the block, or even 5 minutes in the garden.
Watch the monkeys
As my blog post about Christmas mind monkeys eludes to – watch those monkeys! The mind is always chattering and when we’re flying about seeing lots of different people it may have a tendency to get very chatty indeed. The best way to keep a tab on it is by using the tools above! For some of us it’s important that we’re extra vigilant around the festivities – it’s easy to be tempted back to behaviour patterns that we’ve worked so hard to move away from. Our minds are very good at convincing us it’s ok to do so but when we listen to it and follow it’s advice that same voice will then be telling us how stupid we are the following day!
Be as you are
This isn’t the season to be jolly… unless you’re actually feeling jolly. Give yourself the gift of being just as you are, allow yourself to feel what you feel. That might not be what you think you should or even what you want but the quicker you surrender to what you feel that quicker that emotion will pass to whatever comes next. Brutal heartfelt honesty is always the best policy… it gives permission for others to do the same if they choose to and is a step towards a sense of freedom.
LOVE LOVE LOVE
Finally, love. Love yourself, love those around you, love the ups, love the downs, cultivate that love, be the love that you are, an unconditional love. And when your mind tells you you messed up again, got it ‘wrong’ again, pick yourself up with love. When that family member upsets the cousin again try something different, try love… it might seem like it causes more destruction at first glance… but sometimes that’s the whole point. Love is always the answer.