The holiday season is in full swing…work parties, shopping expeditions, family get togethers. It “should” all be so very festive, but this non-stop overstimulating month can cause even the most mindful of folks to hit the autopilot button and multi-task themselves out of merriment.
Instead of falling into this trap and December becoming a numbing blur of calories, hollow rituals, and superficial conversations, wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to savor the sights, sounds, tastes, and connections of the season?
Being PRESENT (what Buddhists call “mindful”) is really the only way to experience the richness of the holidays (and life in general). But mindfulness is often deserted for reasons of expediency, overwhelm, and exhaustion… especially this time of year. So if you don’t want to Grinch-out and completely miss the juiciness of the season, you need to start conscientiously cultivating more mindfulness into your days this month.
Below are 10 simple ideas (**including a guided meditation download from yours truly) for helping you be more present in your body and surroundings this holiday season. I suggest you commit to tackling one mindful activity each day this month to help bring you back home to the NOW…and all the presents/presence it contains…
10 MINDFUL HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES:
1. Conscious Eating – Instead of mindlessly ingesting the treat tray, try eating one item slowly and consciously. Take the time to smell its aroma before you take a bite, touch it with your tongue first, and then with each bite really explore the taste and texture in your mouth.
2. Little Teachers – Small kids are DELIGHTED by this time of year. While interacting with a little one in your life, tune in to their energy of wonder and enthusiasm, and try embodying it. Really imagine what it feels like to be that present.
3. Breath Breaks – Set an alert (with a pleasant ping) to go off on your smartphone every couple of hours, and when it does, STOP, take a deep breath, and tune in to the moment. Exhale and sink into your body. Your breath is one of your simplest and most effective tools for coming back to the present.
4. Mindful Exchanges – To avoid checking out during convos at holiday gatherings, take a moment to really tune in to that person’s energy and then listen to them intently like they’re a great teacher. Focus completely on what they’re communicating instead of what you’re going to say next (you know what I’m talking about).
5. Yoga – Trade in a mall trip (online shopping, yo!) for a yoga class. This moving meditation helps anchor you in your body, which in turn anchors you in the moment. There are also so many awesome free yoga videos online if you don’t feel like braving the cold.
6. Reality Check – Whenever you find yourself stressing over how you’re going to get it all done, stop and ask yourself: “Am I in mortal danger right now?” and take a moment to sink into the fact that you most likely aren’t. Then ask yourself: “What is so right now?” Take note that you are probably in a relatively safe place surrounded by a lot of abundance, and nothing is trying to kill you. 😉
7. Music Appreciation – Put on some holiday music today and make it your sole focus for a bit (not just background for cleaning, walking, reading, etc.) Breathe the music in, let it stir your emotions or inspire you to sing on the top of your lungs.
8. Wake-up Walk – If you feel like you’re falling into a holiday coma, get out for a mindful walk. Try to be absolutely present to the mechanism of your feet as you’re walking – feel your heel hit the ground, followed by your arch, and then your toes. Feel the crisp air as you pass through it and breathe it in. Look for things you’ve never noticed before.
9. Furry Sages – If your animal companion is trying to distract you from gift-wrapping to play or cuddle…let them! Absorb the purring or tail-wagging, and try to throw yourself as much into the delicious present as they are.
10. Meditation – A few minutes of meditation a day is a powerful safeguard against sleepwalking through the holiday season. If you’d like a little assistance getting started, I recorded this 9-minute Presence Check-In to help you. ** CLICK HERE TO LISTEN to this simple guided meditation to help bring you back to the moment. My gift to you…
“The mind is like a butterfly that flits from one flower to the next. Seldom do we find ourselves nestled in the exquisite and eternal ocean of here and now.” – Denise Linn