Ah, it's that time of year!
As the calendar year comes to an end, it naturally tugs on us to reflect on the year, take stock, and think about what we long for in the new year. The season also often means time with family, which can mean both joys & challenges, all in the context of a host of societal expectations & pressures - and a busyness that can be overwhelming. My wishes for you during this season are for a deeper, more mindful presence (instead of presents) & a series of simple joys that truly feed your heart and your soul. Does your heart long for these things? I know mine does. How might you claim them for yourself during this complex season?
First - get into your body to become more fully present.
We spend a lot of time in our thinking brains - mulling over things that happened in the past, planning our "to do" lists - cut off from the present moment right in front of us. One way to become more fully present - meaning aware of & attuned to this "here now" moment - is to take the time to become more aware of our bodies & the information they have for us. This doesn't need to mean starting a full meditation practice! It can be as simple as pausing during the day a taking a few deep breaths & the sense of "dropping down" into your body & taking in the physical sensations. What are you feet feeling? Your knees & hips? What sensations are there in your back? Are you holding any tension in your hands, shoulders, neck, jaw, tongue, & the muscles in your face? Just check in, become aware, get grounded in the physical sensations that exist in your body, breathe - and then just notice what you notice. Just being in the body will give you a more centered place from which to operate - even if just for a few moments. Try doing this several times a day & see what it offers to you.
Second - open up to simple moments of joy.
In addition to mindful awareness of the body, try using your other senses to open up to spot simple moments of joy. Joy is about feeling good - a burst of positive emotion - right now, in this moment. It can be the taste of a holiday treat on your tongue & in your mouth. The sound of a cherished holiday song or the voice of a loved one. A smell that evokes a sense of pleasure. A burst of color or sparkling lights in holiday decorations. Whatever it is for you - when you have a moment that makes you smile, feel warm or grounded or loved - pause, really notice it, spot it as joy - and then take it in, fully. Embrace it & soak it in - revel in it! If that resonates with you, check out Ingrid Fetell Lee's evocative TED talk on "where joy hides & how to find it."
And finally, turn down the volume on that inner critic.
We've all got them - those negative voices that tell us we aren't measuring up in some way. These critical voices can be amplified during the holiday season by our own expectations for what the season should be like, as well as external pressures. Practice noticing those voices & purposefully turning down their volume. Set them aside & instead offer yourself some self-compassion. Want some help with that? This lovely post from Mindful magazine offers some practices for self-compassion during the holidays.
My wish for you in this holiday season is that you move through it from a place of mindfulness, grounded in the body. Choose to turn down those inner critics & pump up the volume of the simple joys that surround you! I wish you all the best of the holiday season and the coming new year.
Have I the courage to change today?