Regardless of your religious background or which family traditions flank your household, there tends to be a lot of gift giving this time of year. We all experience that mad rush of crazed, last minute shopping, dealing with long lines of generally frustrated cashiers and customers, over-crowded department stores blaring of holiday music and of course, spending too much money. This is only after you’ve agonized over which perfect gift to buy that you hope will be loved, used and valued.
So, we give the present, most often in the midst of a hectic family get together, with way too much food, where wrapping paper is flying, and the actual gift that was exchanged has been overlooked. “Thank yous” are muttered, and then…it’s on to the next gift. The entire process has flown by in a second, without so much of a pause, a moment of gratitude, or an intentional acknowledgment. Now, I know this scenario may not be true for all of you…and if it’s not – that’s fantastic! But for many of us, this accurately describes the days of family get-togethers during the season of gift-giving.
How do you think your holiday experience could be different if you slowed down? Practicing mindfulness is about being present, being intentional and giving pause to the moments in our lives. All too often our daily life parallels those moments of wrapping paper flying and indulging in too much food; it all happens so fast that we aren’t present enough to even remember it. And the next thing you know the day is over and you were so stressed leading up to it, and so distracted during it, that you can’t recall the details to know if you even enjoyed it. The tools of mindfulness allow an antidote to this craziness. It’s about cultivating presence, starting with slowing down, breathing and acknowledging your current moment experience, allowing you to actually find joy and peace amidst the chaos of daily life.
The pace of our society does not support slowing down and being present. We are so accustomed to moving at an accelerated speed that we are often mentally onto our next task before even completing what we are currently doing. This failure to be present is not benefitting anything; it does not help our productivity or our ability to focus and actually decreases our optimal brain functioning. And I truly believe the biggest consequence is to that of our relationships. When we are so crazed, busy, distracted and multitasking, our ability to connect diminishes greatly, which negatively affects the people and relationships in our lives.
So, want to become more mindful, more present? Follow these tips:
~ slow down – take a minute and just breathe
~ be present – be here now; look around, take it in, and breathe into the present moment
~ communicate with intention – make eye contact and listen with an open heart
~ increase your awareness – notice what is going on around you as well as what is going on inside of you
~ stop multitasking – practice giving your attention to what is in front of you, especially when it is close family and friends
~ put away your digital device – that email, text or status update will still be there, even if you don’t check it every two minutes
If you could incorporate these tools into your daily life, coupled with utilizing your breath as an anchor to the present moment, your life will feel more centered and fulfilled. And especially during the hectic holiday season…there are so many moments you can use as an opportunity to be here now. And that quite possibly may be the best gift you could give someone. So forget about stressing about that perfect tie, sweater or picture frame. Allow your presence to be your present. Your friends and family will thank you for it.
If you’d like more information on mindfulness or would be interested in doing individual work with me, taking a group classes or would like to bring mindfulness into your workplace, I would love to hear from you. In the meantime, I’d like you to always remember: Take a minute and Just Breathe.
Joree Rosenblatt, MA