Sad to say, for many of us, the season of peace and goodwill has become a time of stress and indulgence. Here’s a mindful survival kit.
Christmas starts with battling through the seasonal crowds and keeps going to the New Year hangover. We need to pace ourselves. When you go shopping, take breaks. Sit in a café and follow your breath, regardless of what’s going on around you.
Check Your Expectations
So much stress comes from the idea that everyone should be happy and get on well. But things are as they are: children can get hyper and temperamental; family tensions can come out; old patterns can resurface. Allowing ourselves to experience any feelings of disappointment and frustrations when they arise, can help us find a more creative response.
Look After Yourself
For some people Christmas is a lonely time, and it can bring back painful memories of people you’ve lost. If that’s your experience, make it a time to take care of yourself. Give yourself the space and kindness you need.
Enjoy Yourself – in Moderation
It’s easy to do too much of everything at Christmas: eating, drinking and being entertained. The downside is feeling tired and bloated, regretting the weight you’re gaining, and spending too much money. So take a mindful breath, appreciate the simple things and stop when you need to.
Take Time Out
At family gatherings and celebrations things like meditation are easily pushed out, especially when children are around. So try to maintain your practice and take breathing spaces. Reflect that staying in a better state helps you to respond better to others. You could even try them to join in.
Enjoy the Christianity … and the paganism
If you’re a Christian, the festival’s spiritual meaning is the best antidote to indulgence and materialism. Although I’m not one, I still love the atmosphere of Christmas carols and nativity plays. The Christmas story is universal: celebrating the birth of a child who brings hope; and it’s a pagan festival, filled with the imagery of rebirth and new life.
Go on Retreat
If you value meditation and mindfulness, an alternative to a conventional Christmas is going on retreat. You can experience a different way of being and take meditation practice much deeper. This Christmas I recommend the retreats run by The London Buddhist Centre (in Herefordshire) and Taraloka (in Shropshire, for women).