Start by settling your mind and body by taking a few deep breaths. Mindfulness practice is an opportunity to build an ability to observe without our normal reactive spirals. For a few moments, we take a break from escalating our holiday stress.
Check in. Notice whatever is going on for you right now, and then come back to the breath. Whether you feel stressed, relaxed, or anything else, for a moment, let it all be. Without judgment or expectation, just notice it all, and come back to the next breath.
Now, picture the next few weeks. Take a moment to notice what comes to mind when you picture the holiday season. How does your body feel: is it tight, or restless, or even nauseated, or exhausted? Notice that, and let it be, and then come back to the breath.
Label emotions. What emotions arise? Maybe there is some mix of excitement and joy and dread and tiredness. Where do your thoughts go? Perhaps there’s a conflicting swirl of pictures of what might be, stress over what seems possible, or ruminative planning over presents.
Relax into the breath. Right now, there’s nothing to do, no one to be, nowhere to go. In this moment, sitting, this is all there is. Some other time might be for acting or thinking. Right now, take care of anything emergent, but otherwise let go of fixing and moving, and focus on the next breath again.
Shift your attention to someone you care about. Now take a few moments to focus on your friends and family. Picture them, and wish them well, wherever they are: peace, or health, or safety.
Now focus on yourself. This is a time of stress, perhaps. Wish yourself whatever you did for your family: ease, or peace, or happiness. Take a moment to be grateful for whatever comes to mind.
Practice, as best as you’re able, letting go. That picture of the meal, or that snub, or a storm derailing your plan—they’re all just thoughts. Notice craving and the hungry ghost who always wants more. Label it all, if you like, thought. Don’t wrestle with it, and don’t engage with it quite as much. Note: thought, and then come back to… Breathing in, and breathing out.
Allow the holidays to happen. Take care to do whatever keeps you grounded, like sleep and exercise. Enjoy it, plan what needs planning, and let go of the rest. Focus instead on whatever you value and find most sustaining this time of year. Happy Holidays!
By: Mark Bertin, taken from mindful.org
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