Mindfulness has become a very popular word to describe bliss and awareness but many people don’t really know that mindfulness is a skill that is developed over time and that encompasses more than just being calm and connected. Mindfulness is our ability to stay present through our five senses and be aware of what’s happening in our external world and internal world: our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations. We can say that it’s the state of acknowledging and accepting whatever is happening in the present moment exactly as it is without trying to change it or exit the experience.
The practice of Mindfulness allows you to cultivate a relationship with your mind and be more present in your life. As I said, mindfulness is a practice that requires commitment and repetition so it becomes more natural and familiar. If you want to be more present and feel less anxious and stressed out during the holidays, you can start a mindfulness practice today!
Although mindfulness might seem simple, it’s not easy. It’s simple because we all have the capacity to be mindful. It’s not easy because it requires discipline and an effort to remain in the present moment without being distracted by our thoughts and perceptions, opinions and judgements. Like any muscle, the more you practice the easier it gets and the stronger and better you become at it.
To start a simple practice, set aside some time to stop for a moment and take a deep breath. The first step to become more connected to your body and your experience is learning how to connect to your breath. The practice of connecting to your breath will increase your self-awareness and allow your consciousness to expand. Take a few breaths, inhaling and exhaling fully and slowly, paying attention to how your breath enters and exits your body. You can breathe and check in with your mind to become more aware of your thoughts, check in with your body to become more aware of your feelings and to your experience. If you happen to catch yourself engaged in negative thinking around others, judging them or judging yourself, your physical appearance, the food you are eating or the way others act, pause and allow the thoughts to dissolve by not engaging in that inner chatter, only noticing the thoughts and allowing them to pass. Don’t assume that your thoughts are super important just because you have them. If you judge yourself for having those thoughts or act on them by restricting, purging, drinking… how is that going to be helpful? Thoughts are thoughts, not threats or facts.
Anxiety and stress around the holidays can be uncomfortable but it's not unbearable. Try to bring more compassion to your experience and slow your pace to be fully present. Before you know the holidays will be over!