Written By Featured Guest Blogger (and our friend) Elizabeth Winkler, MA LMFT
The holidays can be very stressful. From endless expectations to the pressure to buy presents, one can easily be overwhelmed. Add separation and divorce to this busy time of year and you have even more shuffling and stressors to deal with. At it’s over easy we provide a platform that puts the control in your hands. The site also provides tools to help you navigate through divorce and some of life's ups and downs along the way.
Our culture tends to get focused on PRESENTS during the holidays, but I’d like to turn you toward PRESENCE. You don't have to be a meditator or yogi to reap the always available benefits of being more mindful. Here are some simple ways you can incorporate presence into your life that will help you experience more gratitude, curiosity, happiness and wonder.
5 Ways To Bring The Joy Of PRESENCE Into Your Holiday Season
- Creating a Practice in Already Available Spaces:
People often say to me, “I don't have time for meditation or a mindfulness practice” especially during the holidays, and I respond by showing them how you can use already available pockets of time. Eckhart Tolle says, “When you practice routine activities, use those routine activities and be completely present.” A common challenge I give to my clients is when walking from your car to an appointment to be fully present in that walk rather than being focused on where you are going. This immediately reduces stress and anxiety but it can also increase your level of peace, relaxation and happiness. We move from WANTING to get there to ENJOYING where we are as we walk on the planet. A client of mine last week said by doing this she experienced dramatic openings she didn't realize were possible, simply by bringing presence to walking up the stairs to my office. Commit NOW to bring presence to a routine activity daily and watch how your life transforms.
- From Waiting to Noticing:
The average person spends FIVE YEARS waiting in lines, where it is estimated that six months of that is waiting at traffic lights! Waiting times are ripe times to bring presence in. Waiting is inevitable so why don’t we align to it by accepting it when it happens, and then use this time to connect to our inner presence. How? The breath is a powerful tool we can always connect to and when we do, we get out of the negative chattering mind. I often advise clients to simply NOTICE what is happening NOW around them or within them. This directs our attention out of the mind and into the present moment. We can call these waiting times, noticing breaks. What am I noticing? If the mind starts to invade your space then you can ask yourself “is that happening now?” If it is not, DROP IT and be with what is here, now. So, when you see the crowd of people waiting for the same subway as you, or the long line of cars ahead of you in the left turn lane, accept it and through this acceptance you will feel peace as well as have the chance to practice mindfulness. You have now created another mindfulness practice for yourself! Let every challenge become an opportunity for you to deepen more fully into presence.
- I PHONE GO:
UNPLUG and CONNECT with yourself and loved ones. During the holidays, many of us stress about all the things we need to do, so many expectations of ourselves and others. What we really desire at our core is to be together and connect. To share PRESENCE. Several months ago, in a session with a couple I created something called I PHONE GO. Every evening your children get to be in charge of taking all electronic devices and putting them away for a designated time in the day (5-7pm). The parents get a 5-minute warning to finish up any business they need to tend to and then it’s time for the I Phone to GO. Giving children the agency to be in charge of removing these devices that they have come to rely on as such a normal part of life is vitally important so that we can start to bring the importance of connecting with our true nature of presence.
- Family Reading Time:
Set aside 20 mins with classical music on and everyone grabs a book and reads in a cozy room together. We often read in our own beds but when we come together and read the warmth and connection is felt inside and out. During the holidays these cozy times together can really create fond memories, too!
- Recalibrate Through Nature:
We often forget that we are on a planet that is spinning in space. When we take a moment to reflect on this we get in touch with wonder, curiosity and awe. We miss the nature that is abundant even within the city streets during the holidays. So, as you walk out of the subway in Manhattan or walk down the street LOOK UP and notice what is happening in the sky, watch a bird, clouds pass, or the sun setting and the moon rising. Looking up can be uplifting to our spirit. We can also become grounded in nature. Many people practice “grounding” by walking barefoot on the earth which provides our now technology saturated life to become more balanced by connecting to Vitamin G, for ground. If you don't have time to walk through Central Park, that is ok. Nature is always surrounding you. Why is it important to notice nature? Because we align to our true nature when we get in touch with nature. It helps us to recalibrate and it heals us. Notice how watching the sunset, waves crash on the beach, trees blowing in the wind, calms and centers you from within.
Given the recent fires here in Southern California, many of us have become aware of what is precious and what is not important. Combining this awareness during this holiday season we are directed more deeply into presence. Be mindful of getting lost in the holiday frenzy, and as you prepare your holiday meals and presents remind yourself to bring presence in as much as possible. This will shift your home to OM no matter where you travel. From our team at it’s over easy we wish that your year ends with more peace and the transition of 2018 be full of possibility!