Moving Through the Holidays With Minimal Stress and Maximum Mindfulness

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    The holidays are supposed to be a time when we enjoy family and friends, and when we think about the joys of both giving and receiving. However, for many of us, there is a big problem with that phrase, “supposed to be.” The media projections of happy people singing carols while snow drifts gently down on a cold winter night have the opposite effect on our psyches. We feel that others are having a wonderful time, but we aren’t and there must be something wrong with us.

    Add to the media images the stress of buying just the right presents for all the right people, spending hours online or in the stores, cooking and cleaning for family gatherings—and the recipe may be for depression, not elation. What can we do, then, to remain calm and centered during the holidays, rather then stressed and out of balance? The same things we do every day, and that’s the secret of moving through the holidays mindfully and with minimal stress.

    At Red Mountain, we focus on the moment we are experiencing right now, whether it is preparing dinner, going on a hike, or meditating. We follow the old Zen saying of, “When tired, sleep, when hungry, eat.” In other words, take each moment as “nothing special” and pay attention to what is, not what should be. Our experience suggests that this is the best way not only to survive the holidays but to thrive as we move through them. Is there a relative at one of the family gatherings who tends to irritate you? Just let the irritation come and go, as thoughts do during meditation. See if you can understand what he or she is doing that puts you on edge and let go of it.

    Are you worried about the gift you got for one of your siblings and aren’t sure it’s “enough?” Just accept that concern and perhaps add a poem or note to that brother or sister telling them how much you appreciate them. They’ll probably like that much more than something bought in a store. Do you think someone else is having more fun than you are? Just say a word of thanks for the blessings that have been bestowed on the other person and ask if the same might be possible for you. See if you can let go of judging how well you are doing in comparison with other people and consider that they might be thinking the same thing about you!

    Above all, do what you find keeps you centered. If it’s meditating, continue meditating, even if a busier schedule limits you to only a few minutes a day. If it’s hiking, take a hike, or if it’s reading reading, read a good book. Remember that you can choose to take in all the media hype about these times or you can tune it out and can have the holiday you want, not the fictional one that someone else has invented for you.

    And remember that RMS is here for you, during the holidays and every day. Enjoy!

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