3 Tips for a Mindful Holiday Season

holidays mindfulness Dec 21, 2019

However you celebrate your holiday season, here are a few mindfulness tips to help you experience more of what really matters: love, joy, peace and connection. 

3 Tips for a Mindful Holiday Season

1. Mindfully Direct Your Attention. Virtually the only thing you ever really have control of is your attention. Your attention is like a spotlight. When you are mindlessly aiming your attention at everything that's going wrong, at what's not enough, or what's lacking in your life, that's what becomes amplified in your experience. The more you focus on what's not enough, the more you feel dissatisfaction and discomfort. 

The beauty of mindfulness is that when you catch yourself focusing your attention on lack or limitation, you can simply become aware (wow...look at that - my mind was focusing on lack!), and then make a conscious choice to re-aim the spotlight of your attention. Bring yourself into the present moment, and redirect your mind to notice what's going well. Become aware of how much you have. Look for opportunities to be grateful.

2. The Magic is in the Present. At any given moment, anything can happen. In the next 5 minutes, we could experience a total nuclear annihilation, or get the amazing news of a world peace agreement, or an infinite number of potentials in between. The truth is, as much as we may try to predict the future, we don't know what each moment will bring.

As a Hypnotherapist, I've had many people ask me to regress them to the past to help them find a lost or misplaced object, like a passport or a ring. I've discovered that when they are regressed, all they have is where their attention was at that moment. For example, if they were distracted with thoughts of the future, or worries about work, or concerns about someone else's opinion, when they are regressed, those same experiences fill their consciousness because that's where their focus was at the time.

What's the lesson here? At the end of your life, the only thing you can take with you are the memories of your experiences. If the bulk of your attention is focused on ruminating about the past or worries about the future, guess what? That's what you'll take with you. When you grasp the profundity of this realization, it's motivating! You can choose NOW to bring your attention into the present and decide to value the direct experience that's in front of you, instead of dismissing it and wishing for something better. The present moment is all you have, so you might as well find something to enjoy about it.

3. Your Beliefs Shape Your Experience. Your moment-by-moment experience is influenced by the overall tone and quality of your mental and emotional state. What you believe about yourself and your world has a direct influence on how you think and feel.

If you believe that you are a victim, that the problems in your life are everyone else's fault, and that you are powerless to change, then it follows that the accumulation of the moments of your life will have an overall tone of defeat, disappointment, anger, or dissatisfaction. When those moments add up over time, your energy degrades and you feel even more disempowered.

However, when you shift your beliefs and begin adding small mindful moments of appreciation, gratitude, and love - even for experiences that are less than pleasant - you change the tone and quality of your mental and emotional state. Making a conscious choice to find value even in discomfort empowers you to shift your relationship with the present moment. Doing this once or twice may seem trivial when you've been dealing with chronic depression or a painful experience. However, choosing to re-aim your attention and find something to be grateful for in the present moment multiple times per day adds up over time. 

Applying These Tips to the Holidays

The holiday season is what you make it. You can disregard the programming of other people's expectations and choose to enjoy your life exactly as it is - imperfections and all.

I did. This year, my beloved partner Kristjan and I decided to skip much of the holiday hoopla and instead have an enriching experience. We just returned from a 17 day adventure to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam (I'm still recovering from the time change!). I have a renewed appreciation for the simple things in life, as well as deeper empathy for the rich history and culture of people outside the United States.

Traditionally, this time of longer nights is an ideal time to turn inward and reflect on what matters. To help you enhance your mindfulness skills, here is a mini mindfulness practice that you can explore this holiday season.

Mini Mindfulness Practice

  1. Center yourself in time (release the past, let go of the future, and be here now).
  2. Center yourself in space (be in your body, drop your attention to your chest and belly, notice what you are feeling inside).
  3. Now choose to aim your attention on loving and appreciating wherever you are right now, and whatever you are feeling. The more gratitude you can generate from the inside out, the richer your experience of life will be, no matter what's going on around you.

You can do this practice any time, any place. You don't need to have your eyes closed. It can be especially helpful at the holiday dinner table!

Wishing you an abundance of magical moments this holiday season!

With appreciation and gratitude,

Lauren Renee Archer, Sound Mindful Living

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