‘Tis the season…
Oh, the holidays. I love the holidays, there are lots of magical moments, great and small. So from the moment Starbucks starts serving their Christmas blend, I start plotting and planning with joy. But then, the expectations start to pile up, the to-do lists starts to grow and quite honestly, I start to feel a little like this in my head.
I decided this year that I wanted to enjoy the holidays more. I could try to be more organized…great idea, not likely to happen. So, I decided to try mindfulness. You may have noticed it has become a bit of a buzz word; and while it’s easy to allow your eyes to gloss over a little bit when someone starts to talk about it, think about this. Mindfulness improves your immune system, memory, focus, mood, brain, mental health, cognitive function, productivity, relationships and sleep.
Meditation, or mindfulness, is actually way easier to learn than one might think. I once said if you can breathe you can do yoga, well, if you can breathe and count, you can meditate. Actually you don’t even need to be able to count, I just like to.
There are many many different ways to meditate; there are great books, podcasts and really awesome classes where you can learn. But if you want to give it a go, this is my old faithful: set a timer for a minute, sit or lie comfortably, inhale for a count that’s deep, yet easy for you, then exhale for the same count. Once you feel like you are in a groove, if you want to let go of the count, if any thoughts come into your mind, just sort of watch them float away; if you struggle as I often do, just return to counting your breath, until you are ready to let go again. Honestly, sometimes I never get into a groove and just count my breath the whole time. Also, for me, the timer is super important. Interestingly, it helps me focus and relax, otherwise I keep peeking.
I usually practice for five minutes, which I worked up to from one. Longer than five minutes is highly recommended, but to be honest, five seems to be my sweet spot. It’s not so long that even thinking about it feels overwhelming, but it is long enough that afterwards I feel like I’ve had a little nap. All the benefits are great, but for me the best one is that the more I practice being mindful, the more I am, well mindful. And that’s important, especially at this time of year, because who would want to miss a great moment because of a list in their head. You never know when you will be asked again to explain the physics of Santa being able to come down a chimney ¼ his size.