-excerpt from “Crafting a Better Life”

They’re almost here, folks!

Oh, the holidays.  Oh, family gatherings.  How does it usually go for you?   Raise your hand if you eat what feels like your entire body weight in holiday treats.  Raise your hand if within five minutes of Thanksgiving dinner, you’ve already lost your shit with your relatives.

Okay, first of all, join the club.  In my opinion, there is WAY too much emphasis on holidays and ‘special occasions’, and WAY too much pressure for all of us to do things perfectly.

The truth is, that’s NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.  Perfection is impossible.  So let’s accept that.  And instead of killing ourselves to get it right, let’s find a way to actually enjoy these times without shame, anger, exhaustion, and an extra 5 pounds to lose.

This is a quick and easy way to interrupt your old patterns and instead become present and, yes, I’ll say it, ‘ be mindful’.  More importantly, you’ll feel much more in control and less reactive to your family’s nagging!  The goal with this is to switch out of our impulsive system (our behavioral habits and reasons for going unconscious…) and utilize our reflective system.  (which I will talk about in more detail in my next newsletter.)

So, let’s do it!  The ‘Presence Practice’:

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 a ‘mindfulness’ technique.  Well done.

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.  Your critical parents?  Our bodies have no thoughts about that either.  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. 

By just staying present with your body, your stress level is instantly reduced.  And less stress means better thoughts.  And, the opportunity to choose a different action (versus scarfing down an extra piece of pie).  By practicing this, you are more likely to have control over your reactions to other people….even Uncle Pete.

Practice this before the holidays arrive or the relatives come to visit.  Get in the habit of doing this a couple of times a day, at least.  And then, practice it incessantly when they’re in town!