Years ago I read a small precious book by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk, called Present Moment, Wonderful Moment.
It is a series of daily reminders about living more fully in each moment.
One in particular stays with me asI practice it each morning. It has to do with holding our awareness as we get out of bed and place our feel on the floor:the day begins with 24 hours of life;
gratefulness and appreciation for this small yet significant awareness.
I’ve noticed myself being very careful walking the last few days as snow and ice have descended upon Chapel Hill. I wish I was this mindful every day, walking to my car, driving. Mindful walking, or walking as if you have already arrived, is a gift. How often do you pause and notice the pavement and our surroundings with such acute awareness? Safety concerns draws our moment to moment attention and, fortunately, garners our awareness outside ourselves. Nature calls us to notice; to put aside the stream of endless thoughts and worries in our mind. We focus because we have to. Wouldn’t it be nice to focus because we want to!?
People wonder today whether our lives are easier with cell phones, computers, Skype and all the technology. Yes, perhaps, easier in that we don’t have to go down to a river source and wash our clothes on some rocks and we can let Uncle Al know if his brother is ill within seconds rather than weeks or months. However, the more important question is whether people are happier. What do you think? I’d say no. With technology comes increase stress and a change in the natural rhythm of life. I often hear clients say they are overwhelmed. There is too much
‘life’ to juggle and figure out and not enough down time to process.
Being mindful of your needs for time is really important to your life satisfaction.
As the new year unfolds, many of us find ourselves in the fast lane on cruise. It’s a challenge to downshift and take the time for a new speed, a new rhythm, that allows for more space in one’s thoughts and day. What makes taking time to PAUSE so hard? Is it the fear of bad feelings arising, or feeling bored or lost? Even if the moment is brought with bad feelings; pausing and noticing them, will inevitably change the intensity of the bad feeling…and most probably shift you to a better space.
As the holidays are upon us, there are expectations spoken and unspoken about family time. Many clients share that the pressure to be “on” is so difficult especially if one is an introvert. Introverts, while social, need time to recharge and will often need to take space even in the middle of a family gathering. Extroverts, on the other hand, thrive on social interaction. One is not better than the other and each needs to be respected. The best way to handle holiday stress is to communicate with family members and friends what your needs are. That would truly be a holiday gift to yourself!
Happier Holidays: Turning Stress Into Joy
Successful Strategies for Maintaining Calm and Enhancing Enjoyment During YOUR Holidays
- Mindfulness – being conscious of yourself (thoughts, feelings and triggers) is the key to a happier holiday.
- PAUSE and take time to clarify what the holidays mean to you.
- Let the past ‘be.’ It’s over. There is nothing we can do about last year’s holiday.
- What is most important to you this holiday?
- How can you make that happen?
- If you will be by yourself, try to remember that we, human beings, are all connected even if not together physically. What can you do for yourself that will be nurturing?
- Adjust your expectations to what is most likely to happen? Idealism vs. Reality
- Disappointment is often created when we hold on to an outcome.
- If you need to take space, tell someone where you are going and for how long.
- Be mindful about what you are feeling during your time with family or guests?
- Where are you noticing stress in your body?
- Take a moment to put your hand over heart and breathe.
- PAUSE to stay present in the moment and take in what is good.
- How other people act and what other people say is not about you.