I tend to find myself at this time of year feeling happy, excited … and a little spun! It’s a busy time of year, trying to wrap up work before the holidays, finish shopping (and of course taking this very seriously, trying to get useful and creative gifts), wrap presents, clean and prepare for family gatherings and all the while go about your daily life. I finally realized tonight (after my husband was wondering what was wrong with me!) that I had fallen back into that spun-out pre-holiday zone (that zone where I tend to move a little too quickly and take longer to answer simple questions because my mind is in hundreds of different places at once ;). I then realized that if I had fallen into the pre-holiday zone, there are likely many people right there along-side me.
That’s why we all need to take a minute to SLOW DOWN and find the inner peace and joy that the holiday season can bring. This a time to cherish family and friends; it’s not about the presents we give or receive, it’s about being present with one another. True happiness does not come from anything external, it doesn’t come from the things we have or the things we obtain, it comes from within.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t give or receive any gifts over the holidays, but it does mean that if you choose to give a gift to someone make it a thoughtful gift that was given out of love, not out of obligation. It means that if you receive a gift take a moment to acknowledge the kindness of the person who gave you that gift. It means that the holidays should be spent being thankful; and if the holidays are a hard time for you, then maybe it’s time to take a deeper look at why that is so that next year will be different.
How Do I Slow Down?
Here’s a simple breathing meditation I enjoy from Dr. Paul Epstein’s “Happiness Through Meditation” handbook. It’s a book I enjoy referring back to whenever I feel the need to slow down and bring myself back into the present moment. I have simplified his “Breath Meditation” so it can be done in a quiet sitting position or while you’re on the move.
• Start by focusing on the sensations of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils, or focus on the rise and fall of the abdomen and chest. Choose one point of focus for the mind’s attention and stay with it. The mind will naturally wander and become aware of all that is happening, arising, and passing away moment to moment – from sounds to body sensations to thoughts and feelings. Note what arises and where the mind goes, then simply and gently return to the breath again and again.
• For each breath inhale deeply into the abdomen for a count of 6, pause, then exhale fully for another count of 6. Repeat for at least 3 to 6 breaths, the more the merrier 🙂
As I said earlier, this can be done anywhere: while standing in line-ups, driving in your car, at family gatherings, or sitting quietly at home. It’s a simple breathing technique used to bring your mind back into the present moment, to help decrease anxiety and stress, and to help you to focus again on what brings true happiness to the holidays, presence.
From my family to yours,
“Joy is not in things, it is in us” – Richard Wagner