Using simple yet powerful ancient mindfulness practices
Holiday periods often brings with it a storm of different emotions. There’s so much preparation involved, whether it’s finding gifts for people, organising travel or even parties.
It’s common, especially in the western world, for us to share an unfortunate emotion after these events have passed: disappointment.
There can be a heavy sense of anticlimax because despite all of the build up, whether it’s thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter – the next day? Nothing has changed. We’re back to our everyday, normal lives.
We often feel such guilt after these holidays for all of the over indulging on food and drink. I know this has been my experience in the past. We hate ourselves for putting on too much weight and cringe at the regretful things we’ve said after one too many celebratory drinks.
It’s a common story but friends, please don’t feel despair: this doesn’t have to be your experience. Follow these practices to become more empowered of your own emotions whilst feeling calmer and more in control, not only during this holiday season but in the days to come.
1: Keep an attitude of gratitude
Approach the coming holiday period with an attitude of gratitude. Do you read that and recoil? I hear you, this ‘gratitude fashion’ may seem over-used these days but there is a powerful and simple reason why.
Whilst you don’t need to meditate every day on gratitude (though this is a wonderful habit to get into) during the coming days keeping a thankful heart will greatly benefit you.
For example, let’s say a relation who you must share this time with is talking about views you don’t share, making jokes in ways that annoy you, or perhaps they casually criticise you or make you feel small – their words really get to you and occupy your mind.
This is where you must come to them with the attitude of gratitude and ask yourself: what if this person wasn’t here next holiday? Would I still be annoyed by their words? Is it worth taking them so seriously now? Once you stating thinking this way, it will change everything.
2: ‘Accept, accept, accept’
Ancient Buddhist wisdom states that if you want to make friends with anxiety (with stress, annoyance, inadequacy) you accept it, you shake hands with it. With this in mind, you should find a way to accept people just as they are
Approach these conflicts with the thought that he or she most likely has some pain inside, and from there – in the words of The Beatles – ‘Let it be’.
Think to yourself ‘I am not perfect, so I can’t expect that of others. They are annoying me, but it’s ok, I accept that every person is on their own path’. You need to accept their imperfections just as you must accept your own.
3: Be a good listener
Once you start practising this, not only over the holidays but at any time, you will see profound changes in your life and yourself as a person. You might be asking, how? This is a powerful mindfulness practice: when a person talks listen intently, give your full attention to what that person says and, importantly, listen without judgement.
Once you do this, the person will feel seen, heard and supported – this will change everything for them, they will feel your presence in the moment, and they will go on to perceive you in an entirely different light which will strengthen your relationship.
4: Swap gifts for acts of kindness
This holiday season, instead of spending that stressful time trying to think of what to buy for someone, why not dedicate your time to them instead?
Perhaps you could offer your support to them in some way or help them with a task they’ve needed to complete? Giving quality time is more valuable than material gifts and will no doubt create the ‘pass it on’ mentality in others too.
Remember that smiles are free. They are the best gifts to give and they are also your magic weapon, for if people around you say something that annoys you… just smile. Smile and stay silent. For they are on their own path and nobody is perfect.
Don’t forget yourself this holiday season. You must allocate time for yourself. In my workshops and talks I always say ‘you can’t give something that you don’t have’ – if we can’t show ourselves compassion and love, how do we expect it to reflect on to others?
A wonderful gift for yourself would be treating yourself to an uplifting book, perhaps an inspirational biography or a book related to a passion or hobby you have.
You should spend at least half an hour a day with this book. Reading is a meditative practise and requires you to focus your attention, calming that pesky monkey mind! It’s also a great way to tune yourself into mindful habits.
a). Eating Mindfully:
Another way to show ourselves compassion is to remember that you do not need to feel guilty for enjoying all of this food and drink on offer. There is another way. That is to indulge but not overindulge. You decide how much you want to consume.
I have also struggling with this over the years especially at Christmas, sometimes eating myself into physical pain and lying on a couch like some overstuffed caterpillar!
I’m definitely not telling you stick to quinoa and avocado, you should relax and enjoy a little of everything on offer! But to stay mindful, savour each moment, listen to your body and be aware of how much is just the right quantity for you.
b). Drinking Mindfully:
Stay aware of alcohol too, it shakes or nervous system and makes the monkey mind go crazy! It also creates a lot of negative emotions later on, so again, drink to enjoy but decide how much is enough for you.
BONUS PRACTICE & A CHALLENGE:
Keep Your Phone away & do a No Media 3 Days Challenge
This is optional but if you do it will have a huge impact on you. How? Well when you are not scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter or even News then you are giving yourself and others more opportunities to connect at a deeper level, e.g. engage with your close ones by surprising them with your “extra help” and go the extra mile for them.
You can click the link below to download and print these powerful mindfulness practices. Read them on your own from time to time and remind yourself of how to be more empowered emotionally and connected with your True / Higher self.
Friends, I’m wishing you the most beautiful holiday season.
Shubho Dutta: Founder of BoostCamp.Live, a travel concept focusing on changing people’s mindset.
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