Last year I saw a very poignant quote posted on Facebook regarding Black Friday. It said, “Because only in America, people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.”
The irony of this quote struck me. With of all the craziness we invite into our lives during the holidays, it is easy to lose site of the meaning behind the holiday we are celebrating. What’s ideally supposed to be a season of focusing on family, gratitude, giving, creating memories, and (for many families) faith, often becomes a time of rushing around, stressful family gatherings, and excess of everything including food, alcohol, parties, gatherings, and stuff we don’t really need.
The truth is, often times (and not only pertaining to the holidays), we don’t end up with the experience that we imagined in our minds. Sometimes we are able to have stress-free, calm, peaceful, relaxing and fulfilling occasions, but this isn’t always the case. It’s normal to run around for last minute shopping, cooking, cleaning, wrapping, and more cleaning, so that by the time we sit down at the beautifully decorated table with delicious smelling food, we are so tired that we secretly can’t wait until the evening is over so we can relax! It’s almost as if we just want to get through it, and therefore are not even enjoying the process. And then we end up repeating the same patterns year after year with the optimism that “this year will be different” and yet we don’t do anything differently that will lead to that change.
I understand that this isn’t the case for everyone; some are very organized and don’t feel stressed by all the holiday to-do’s. But if you are stuck in a Ground-Hog-Day-like-experience with the same story playing out year after year, don’t judge yourself; you are human and habits are hard to break, even when you have really good intentions to do so. The holiday season is inherently frenzied, and we are fighting an uphill battle in how to find the joy amidst all the chaos. But it’s there; you just have to be more aware and present to notice and appreciate it.
The solution starts with cultivating the tools to help get you get centered when you begin to feel unbalanced. When you find that your busyness is taking away from what is really important, then it is time to slow down, take a few deep breaths and reconnect with yourself and your intentions. Mindfulness is the practice of living with greater awareness, attention and intention, and connecting to your breath, which continually draws you into the present moment. We often get stuck on autopilot and go through the motions of life, and thus miss a lot of what is happening around us. Practicing mindfulness helps break free from those habits and patterns that no longer serve you and create more a more present way of being.
~ Take a minute and just breathe
~ Let go of what you can’t control
~ Increase your presence
~ Look for the joy amidst the chaos
~ Focus on gratitude
~ Increase compassion, for yourself and others
~ Be in the moment, rather than focusing on the past or the future
~ Let go of the attachment of how you thought it was supposed to be and accept what is
~ Practice responding and not reacting to what is arising in the moment
If you would like to learn more about mindfulness and how to bring the practice into your life, you can find out more at www.joreerose.com. I work individually with clients and families, lead workshops, and bring mindfulness into the workplace. I am leading a Mindful Parenting Workshop on Sunday January 24, in which parents can gain tools to be more present, create deeper connections with their children and discipline more effectively, all the while cultivating a place of centering and calm. I also recently got a mindfulness book for kids published, Squirmy Learns to be Mindful, which teaches young kids the tools of how to appreciate being in the moment, find gratitude and connect with their breath to calm their brains and their bodies. You can find all this info and more resources on my website.
I wish all of you a joyful holiday season – chaos and all!