Present Moments Make the Best Presents
Holiday mode is in full swing! Here comes the month when many people hit the ground running and don’t stop until they crash on New Years Day, needing a vacation from their vacation. The entire season can become a blur of obligation and stress from running yourself ragged both physically and emotionally. However, you have the power the make this year different.
Effectively managing the fast pace of today’s American lifestyle can be super stress provoking at any time of year, but the holidays elevate that stress to a stratospheric level, unless you put a plan in place. Think about the way you go through your daily activities. Do you allot plenty of time to get them all done? Do you do them with ease and pay attention to what you are doing? Or do you rush with clenched jaw and fists throughout the day, not noticing anything except for your to-do list, feeling totally stressed, and as though there is never enough time?
Part of what we are exploring here is mindfulness: clear moment-to-moment awareness of what is actually happening. When you are thinking about what’s next, you are robbed of THIS moment, and the magic of the season is lost.
Thanksgiving through New Year’s is always an interesting time period to explore your relationship with being present. People adore the idea of this season because it represents gratitude for blessings and spending time with loved ones, but the reality of trying to cram it all in – and with joy no less – can be a very different experience. There are food and toy drives to spread the “true meaning of the holidays”, but how often do you get caught up in the hype and operate on automatic obligatory pilot? From serving a big Thanksgiving meal to participating in crazy-making Black Friday shopping, the “meaning” can get lost in the mayhem. How can you bring yourself back to the here and now and rock some present moment consciousness so you can rejoice more, react less, and actually be in the moment?
Start by taking a deep breath, slowing down, and sinking into some stillness and silence.
Give yourself the gift of dedicating as little as 2 minutes in the morning this holiday season to meditation. Take this time to see all the activities of your day falling into place with ease and grace and feel gratitude for all that is right in your life right now. This practice creates an internal sacred space of centered awareness that can be the calm in the holiday storm and keep you connected to the true meaning of the season.
Make a commitment to truly enjoy being with your children as you decorate the house – pine needles be damned! Let their wonder and awe fill you with excitement. Allow a car in front of you in traffic knowing it won’t make you arrive any later to your destination and will make that person happy. Smile at the weary sales clerk and understand he’s been working long hours and dealing with lots of people. Meditation allows you to be present and awake in your life and can create the space for you to do all of these things and more. It is possible to actually enjoy the next month!
Years from now most people won’t remember what “stuff” they got or gave, but they will remember a kind word, emotional generosity, and feelings of appreciation. One of my favorite lines comes from the cute, animated film Kung Fu Panda, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift, and that is why it’s called the present.” The best gift you can give this holiday season is your presence in the present.
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