A mindful festive season
‘You should meditate for twenty minutes every day, unless you are too busy.
Then you should meditate for an hour.’ Zen saying
I can really relate to this Zen saying – usually those times when we most need the practices which ground us and help us manage our stress better, are exactly the periods when we abandon them. Suddenly we are too busy to meditate, to practise yoga or Tai Chi, to exercise or to listen to music. The festive season at the end of the year can be one of these times when we simply try our best to get through the busyness of it all. While some people no doubt enjoy every moment of this period, for many of us it can be a mixture of both joy and stress. For the past two years the pandemic has added an additional layer of complexity to what can already be a pretty intense time of the year. Here are a few ideas which might help us all to navigate the weeks ahead more intentionally:
- Choose one practice to anchor yourself. This could be meditation, journaling, regular exercise – whatever will be most helpful for you. Rather than trying to keep all the balls in the air, make a commitment to at least one regular practice which will ground and nourish you.
- Acknowledge that this time brings stress as well as joy. We can put unrealistic expectations on ourselves that this season should be all joy and light. It never is.
- Write a letter to a difficult family member which you will never send. In fact, as soon as it’s written, please shred or delete it. This can be a great way to get a few things off your chest so there is no need to blurt it all out in the middle of the family gathering, just as the children are about to open their presents!
- Set twenty minutes aside to deliberately explore what this time of the year means for you. You might like to journal, draw, write a song, meditate, or share your thoughts with a good friend. Yes, this month can be stressful, but imagine if as a society we never took the time to collectively stop our everyday work and focus on relationships instead. There is a reason why even in a more secular age, the festive season still has its place in our yearly calendar.
- Finish this sentence – ‘what I would really like during this time is…’ We might be pleasantly surprised by an unexpected and wise response from deep inside us!
It can be very helpful to approach this time with intention and a few good practices which will sustain us. And, as the Zen saying suggests, perhaps even setting aside some additional time to look after ourselves!