Here we are…knee deep into the holidays. How are you doing? Raise your hand if you’ve already eaten what feels like your entire body weight in holiday treats. Raise your hand if you’ve already lost your shit with your relatives.
Oh, the joy of the season.
Okay, first of all, join the club. In my opinion, there is WAY too much emphasis on this time of year, and WAY too much pressure for all of us to do things perfectly.
The truth is, it’s NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. So let’s accept that. And instead of killing ourselves to get it right, let’s find a way to actually enjoy the end of the year without shame, anger, exhaustion, and an extra 5 pounds to lose.
If you’re in the self help world (and if you’re reading this, you are) likely, when the word ‘mindfulness’ is muttered, you glaze over as if you were reading a computer manual. It’s a phrase that has been overused and under-explained and truthfully underutilized.
In a previous newsletter, I created a few new names for this practice…’mind awareness’ and ‘presence practice’. Both of those labels, in my opinion, more accurately describe the practice. And also, I’m not using the word ‘practice’ by accident…we ‘practice’ this every day.
Let’s not waste time, let’s get right to practicing immediately!
Feel your feet. How do they feel? Are you in shoes? Socks? Barefoot? Are they cold? Hot? If you had to describe how they felt what would you say…in detail…?
Okay, you just got present. You practiced ‘mindfulness’. Well done.
But what’s the point? Why do this? How can this possibly help me when my holiday to-do list is longer than my arm and all I want to do is eat holiday cookies?
Here is the thing about our bodies and the presence practice. Our bodies are living in the here and now. Second by second, breath by breath. Our bodies couldn’t care less about what you did yesterday or, what you have to get done by the end of the week. Our bodies know nothing about shame, regret, or worry. They are simply here, right now.
So, when you are panicked about what to wear to the holiday party or worried about getting the table set in time for the guests, zone in on a part of your body and feel it fully. (And, FYI, this takes about 30 seconds so ‘I don’t have time’ is not an excuse.)
“But I thought you had to sit and meditate” is likely what your voice of resistance is saying in your head.
Wrong. Well, not entirely. I mean, yes, it’s lovely to sit and notice your thoughts and breath in and out in stillness (and you can check out my fave tracks from my home page on my website). I highly recommend doing that as many days as possible. But meditation without action is only getting 1/2 the benefit of meditating. Think about it. How many times have you finished your meditation practice, got on with your day, and were in a fight with your co-worker by noon? (Confession…I have left yoga classes feeling amazing and within minutes caught myself flipping someone off on the drive home.)
‘Mind awareness/Presence practice’ is your meditation in action. Stopping for 30 seconds to FEEL something in your BODY brings you to the present moment. It interrupts your knee jerk reactions and negative assumptions. It brings you back to the present moment thus releasing you from future worry and past guilt. And, if find you are eating unconsciously, this practice helps you catch yourself before you overeat.
Once you get into the habit of doing this throughout the day (I recommend putting reminders on your phone to chime every hour), see if you can do it while you are busy at work, etc. You CAN keep a part of your mind on how your feet are feeling while talking to your mother. (Yes, it even works with mothers!) You can notice how your breath feels as you inhale and exhale while shopping at Ralph’s. You can notice how the sun feels on your skin, while sitting in traffic.
By just staying present with your body, your stress level is instantly reduced. And less stress means better thoughts. And most likely, more control over your reactions to other people.
So, while you read the last bit of this newsletter, notice your feet, or some part of your body. Just keep part of your mind tuned into that physical sensation while you read on.
Notice you’re not making your shopping list in your head. You are present and able to absorb what you are reading. And, you are more likely to remember everything you need to buy when you go shopping later.
Practice this incessantly over the holidays! In fact, if you do NOTHING else, do the ‘presence practice’ all day long.
HAVE AN AMAZING HOLIDAY SEASON!
And repost, retweet and forward to your friends.