Have a Mindful Christmas!
Have you ever noticed, just how much you actually NOTICE this time of year?
Around December 25th, millions of people take perhaps the largest collective pause the world experiences each year. It is a time when most non-essential services stop. As a result, the world gets a much needed opportunity to take a mindful breath.
“It is, (for many, as Andy Williams song goes) the most wonderful time of the year.”
But just what is it, that makes this time of year so wonderful?
Maybe it is because, more than any other time, we have an opportunity to pause, and step out of our day-to-day responsibilities and schedules. To be experience life directly.
John Kabat-Zinn, who brought the Buddhist concept of mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and western society says “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
Regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, the holiday season is one of the few times of year when so many people truly have an opportunity to stop doing, and remember that our nature is to simply be – which is why we are human BE-ings.
- Seeing what you see
- Hearing what you hear
- Tasting what you taste
- Smelling what you smell
- Sensing what you touch
- Feeling what you feel
- Knowing what you know
- Being fully awake
Some of the most memorable Christmas carols remind us of what it means to be in the present moment. “Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?
Are we listening? When we have an opportunity to step out of our daily routines, we are able to connect with a deeper way of experiencing reality. When we approach the world with mindfulness, we take a gentler, attitude. We let go. We stop striving. We see things just as a child might see them, for the first time.
That is not to say that the holiday season isn’t an emotional and painful time of year for many people. But maybe its not any more painful than usual. Maybe it is because when we stop doing, we become more mindful of our true feelings.
The Gift of Mindfulness:
The next time you have a glass of water, allow your glass to remain under the tap for about 30 seconds or so. What do you notice?
You might notice that the water is in constant motion, and as more water is forced into the glass bubbles rush to the surface. Water forced up and out of the glass. Try as you might, it is impossible to see clearly what is happening inside as you watch the chaos in the glass.
The same is true of our lives. When we are too busy, when we take on too much, when too much is forced upon us, our lives become chaotic. As a result, emotions and suffering bubble and spill over.
However, when we turn off the tap, and allow the glass to sit on the counter, the water settles, and within a few minutes it becomes completely calm. Suddenly we can see with clarity, right through the glass.
This is the gift of mindfulness. When we pause, and stop, we begin to see much more clearly. We can start to observe our lives with greater understanding, acceptance and compassion. It is also an opportunity for self-awareness and insight.
I like to go for a walk, or take a drive on Christmas Day. The streets, especially early in the morning are unusually quiet. Last year, I noticed a police officer sitting in his car in a nearby parking lot. On most days, I would anxiously check my speed and ensure my seat belt is fastened. But on this day, I felt something completely different.
I felt grateful. Compelled to let him know, I turned my car into the parking lot, parked, and opening my door, got out of my car and approached him. When he rolled down his window, I thanked him for being on duty, and for being there to keep my family and community safe. Then, I wished him Merry Christmas.
The opportunity to step out of our daily routines, to breathe deeply, and to just “be”, without the usual pressures allow us to see the world, as it truly is.
Be curious, this holiday season, of what happens when you step out of your regular routine. If you notice that the world seems a little more fresh, that your mind seems a little more peaceful, and clear, you will have experienced the essence of mindfulness.
Invest in Your Wellbeing!
Would you like to live with greater mindfulness, not just during the holidays, but throughout the year?
Mindfulness is a skill, developed through practice, that is critical to helping us cultivate greater wellbeing in all areas of our lives (Career, Social, Physical, Financial, Community).
Consider building one of the following mindfulness practices into your life:
- Notice your breath. Your breath is perhaps one of the most vital ways we can connect with the present moment. Practice being aware of your breath.
- Take a walk, preferably outdoors. Walking connects us with a more natural pace. Notice the change in your mind afterwords. Carry this feeling into your day.
- Be present to someone every day. The most precious gift we can offer someone is our presence. To love, is to truly be there.
- Do an activity that requires mindfulness. Learn a musical instrument, learn a craft, join a yoga or meditation group.
Have a Merry, Mindful Christmas!
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