Merry Christmas everyone.
This is the season to be jolly, crazy and stressed... and then collapse in a heap in January! Does this sound familiar to anyone? Well it doesn’t have to be this crazy and it really can be a lot more enjoyable with an ounce of mindfulness thrown into your Christmas pudding.
As we approach Christmas, the silly season can involve lots of office parties and other end of year events, the craziness of trying to tie up loose ends before the holiday season, preparations for family gatherings on Christmas Day and people driving weirdly on the road by either being distracted or aggressive.
This time of the year presents us with many challenges and opportunities for our mindfulness practice:
1. We can benchmark our progress since the same time last year,
2. We can use our mindfulness practice to deal with all the stress of the silly season leading up to Christmas, and
3. We can use the relaxed, quiet time of the January holidays to build our practice.
We can do this by noticing how we are handling crazy traffic, Christmas shopping, the extra demands of tying up loose ends at work and the organisation of family events. We may also notice how much alcohol we are drinking and how much we are eating and whether we are getting enough sleep. With all these things we can notice how reactive we are and how much our ability to stay calm has been affected.
Dealing with the stress of the silly season
Precisely when we need our mindfulness practice the most, it is easy for it to drop away. Everything can feel chaotic and we can feel under intense time pressure. Of course, if we can maintain our practice it helps us to remain calmer and more efficient. Even if at times we have to significantly reduce the duration of our formal practice it is beneficial to do something every day. Even just 30 seconds is enough to sustain the habit. It is also very helpful to remind yourself about meditation in action practices such as focusing on your breathing for a few breaths when waiting for someone to answer the phone or when waiting for a red light change to green. All of this helps us to cope better during this crazy time. It also gives us in a much better position to take advantage of relaxing in January.
Building our practice during the holiday season
After finally getting over the hump of Christmas, it’s time to relax. We generally have more spare time and less hurried than at any other time of the year. This is a wonderful opportunity to establish a mindfulness practice, or strengthen an already existing one. Because things are a bit different this time of year we need to reflect a little on what is a good time and place to do the practice. Once we start doing this are usually does not take long for it to become quite enjoyable.
What a great way to set yourself up for the year!
Merry Christmas and happy New Year!