We are heading in to the Christmas and New Year holidays this week and many of us are busy getting everything prepared. Our lists are checked twice, gifts are wrapped and stowed, and ready to give. Or we are doing last minute gift making or shopping, standing in longer than usual lines trying to maintain a positive holiday spirit. I know some people really love the spirit of the season and are waiting in anticipation for everything to start. While others are feeling like they wish they could be on the other side of the hoopla of the holidays already. With most of us, though, there is a blend of feelings that can take us on a wild sleigh ride if we are not mindful about our thoughts and expectations.
This year, in a preemptive attempt to create joy to replace overwhelm, and loving kindness to replace expectation of myself and others, I am taking stock of what I want to bring to the table of the holiday celebrations. When we focus on what we can offer by way of compassion and love, the holidays take on another whole experience. Less stressful, more joyful. So I posed these questions to help me get into the true meaning of the season, of life, really. I invite you to consider them and see if they make your season brighter too.
What food or nourishment can you bring to the table?
Holiday food is about warmth, celebration, joy and fun; and that goes for actual food as well other kinds of sustenance. What food, food for thought, nourishment for the heart and soul do we want to bring to the table? When we ask this question we can focus on what we have to offer rather than what we hope to gain from others, or how we want it all to go. It puts us in the mindset of doing what we can to bring the best of ourselves to add to the celebration and let it unfold as it will.
What sort of energy do you want to bring to the party? It is important that we be ourselves, play to our strengths and add our uniqueness to the gathering. Whether it is joy, humor, sincerity, listening, storytelling, organizing, making delicious food, or making everyone feel welcomed, we each bring our own good energy and innate gifts to add to the celebration. The true gift is when we intentionally bring the best comfort and joy we have to offer and make room for each person to do the same.
How can you be more mindful?
Studies suggest that we have about 30 thoughts a second, 90% of which is unconscious but still affects the way we feel and experience things. So much of what we do and think is unconscious. We go through the motions, sometimes unaware of our impact on the world around us. Just as important, we can be unaware of how something or someone impacts us unless we take the time to tune in. Mindfulness is quite often the antidote to the discomfort of unsettling moods and feelings. Take a few minutes to sit quietly, tune into your breathing and listen to your heartbeat to feel centered and balanced. From that calmer state of mind you can be more present, more genuinely yourself, and that is always a good thing.
How can you show your appreciation and gratitude?
When we enter the holidays starting with a sense of appreciation and gratitude, something wonderful happens. Suddenly the water stained windows of our hearts become clean and crystal clear. It allows us to see the beauty all around us and put everything else into perspective.
Here’s what I will aim to bring to the table…First, I will take a little time to calm my swirling mind, and center on peace and joy. Then, I will bring a playful spirit to laugh readily and join in with the fun. I will aim to be present and truly in the moment with each person I get to talk with so they know I see them and hear them. I will bring an ease of heart that lets go of any limiting pictures I might have. If I come across someone who is down or blue, or even ornery in some way, I will to extend my love to them, and honor them where they are. And lastly, I will bring a salad and appetizers.
I wish you joy in your heart and peace in your soul. Safe travels and blessings on your holidays wherever you might be.