Psychotherapist and public speaker on ‘Mindfulness’ with MyMind Harriet McGuigan shares her advice on how to practice mindfulness to combat the stress of Christmas.
As Andy Williams sings, ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year
with the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you be of good cheer
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!’
What a message!
Yes, Christmas can potentially be a wonderful time of the year. Christmas as some of you are painfully aware of is a ‘loaded’ time of year and can bring up happy, sad, scary and regretful memories to name but a few.
In this article you could learn to have yourself a ‘Mindful little Christmas’ this 2015.
You ALL have a past and in your past you have good memories, sad memories, regretful memories, painful memories etc. Some of you hope to have a future filled with financial security, health and happiness. Some of you are filled with anxiety about your future. Mindfulness is about bringing yourself back as much as possible into your present reality – Taking one breath at a time. It is about being conscious of what ‘is’ rather than going off into fantasy and wishing for what you wish you could have in the future or getting drowned in the past when things were easier or at times harder.
Of course all of this is easier said than done! Living mindfully is no mean feat! With discipline choosing to live mindfully could bring you inner peace, contentment and the golden nugget of them all – serenity into your life.
Warning – if you are new to Mindfulness you probably won’t achieve all of this over Christmas 2015 and I encourage you to stay open to achieving some. So you see the festive adverts, the idea of how things ‘should’ be and then you have your reality.
Take a risk and breathe into your reality right now. Not the reality you wish you had, not the reality that you imagine your friends or family have – I invite you to breathe into your own life.
The interesting thing is that the more you start to accept life as it ‘is’ and the more you accept the way you ‘are’ right now the more potential you have to obtain some inner peace and equilibrium.It could help if you share your reality with a loving other (a friend, a partner, a therapist or a person of trust).
The little child in you is always looking for that fairy tale ending and that pot of gold under the rainbow. What tends to happen is that when you are searching for your perceived fairy tale ending or prince charming or the pot of gold there are often many amazing things manifesting right under your nose!
They may not be in the way you imagined them to be but they are there all the same. You live in a time that could lure you to behave ungratefully in your modern world. This can rage havoc on your nervous system, your spiritual, emotional and intellectual self.
So how about celebrating the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ in your unique way with your unique life? Do you really need to compare yourself to ‘The Jones’? You could try to be like the Jones’ or you could practice being completely different to the Jones’ (in rebellion). All this could do is lead you to living your Christmas through ‘shoulds’, ‘musts’ or ‘rebellion’. Maybe YOUR unique Christmas this year is allowing more of authentic you to shine!
Being you this Christmas could be writing mindful poetry to your loved ones. You could present these to them Christmas morning.
It could be playing floor time with your children using the crib figurines on Christmas Evening and that could be your way of supporting everyone to connect with their spiritual selves. It could be dancing with your children around the kitchen whilst listening to Christmas music. How about mindfully colouring with them whilst listening to seasonal music in the background? Another lovely idea could be to sit as a family facing the Christmas tree practicing the Gratitude Alphabet expressing what you are all thankful for this Christmas – whilst encouraging everyone to use their voice and have time and space to share.
Some other practical supports to guide you into your uniqueness and presence could be listening to a Mindful Seasonal Meditation alone via YouTube.
Don’t get me wrong these ideas might not fit for you at all! Allow yourself to check in with your gut and pass them by if they don’t make any sense to you in your world. It could be honouring Christmas in your authentic way – a way that you have longed to do for ever and an age but felt that it just wasn’t in ‘keeping with tradition’. The key is to meet yourself where you are at.
So maybe you have energy to join in the festivities and maybe you have energy to listen to a meditation. What will help is that you keep going and challenge yourself out of your comfort Zone – this takes huge courage and huge strength. The way you carry out your courage and strength will be unique to you.
For some of you courage is getting up every morning during Christmas and putting your two feet on the floor, getting on with your day despite the heaviness you feel in your heart. For others courage is being vulnerable with a loved one or being honest at your 12 Step Meeting.
There is no magic wand! However slowly crumb by crumb you may feel a little less stressed, a little more loved and a little more loving if you can allow yourself to do something which is authentically you.
We are all unique – Wouldn’t the world be such an utterly boring place if we had to be all the same! So I encourage you to let more of your light shine this Christmas. Whatever way that is meaningful for you.
I recommend a wonderful book to gently ease you into your Mindful Christmas 2015
‘The Mindful Way through Depression (Freeing yourself from Chronic Unhappiness) by Williams, Teasdale, Segal and Kabatt Zinn.
You could also seek out for a good therapist to help you toward a more peaceful you. Check out mymind.org to read the therapist profiles and see which one fits for unique you.
In the tradition of Christmas I wish you peace, joy and happiness in your unique heart.
‘…….and have yourself a ‘Mindful Little Christmas Now’