Whether you’re finishing up your Hanukkah celebrations, making the final preparations for Christmas or simply enjoying the turn from Autumn to the Winter season, you may experience moments of stress where the holidays feel a little less than happy.
This time of year people are busy working extra hours so they can take a few days off at the end of the month, trying to find the “perfect” gift for everyone they know, packing to travel across the country to visit family and mentally preparing to spend time with family members they barely know and certainly don’t have much in common with other than some shared DNA. Now, obviously it’s not all bad or we wouldn’t put ourselves through all the trouble. In fact, when you look back years from now you may only remember the delicious cookies you baked with your mom, opening gifts with your siblings and Grandpa telling some ridiculous joke. Or maybe you won’t. Regardless, I want to encourage you to use Mindfulness to reduce any suffering that comes up during the holiday season.
Take a moment and just breathe. I know, I know…you are constantly breathing or else you wouldn’t be reading this. I mean, take a moment to truly breathe in deeply and notice your breathe. What does it feel like entering your body? Can you feel your lungs expand? Does the air tickle the back of your throat? Try to focus on your breathe moving in and out of your body for at least a minute. You mind will wander-I promise this. When you notice you’ve hopped on the thought train and followed it down the track simply let go of that thought and gently bring your mind back to your breathe.
Do you notice any change in yourself now? Hopefully your breathing has slowed and your muscles have began to relax. If you were able to focus, you may feel less anxious or more hopeful now. Try to do this at least three times per day as practice and then anytime you notice a little anxiety, frustration or irritation beginning to arise from within. The more you practice, the easier it will get to focus and the more relaxation you’ll experience from this brief one minute exercise.
Oh…and Happy Holidays!