There’s a reason why the quote by Ram Dass resonates with so many people:
“If you think you’re enlightened go spend a week with your family.”
From a mindfulness perspective, it’s a great opportunity to practice dealing with our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
Our families have a way of pushing our buttons. Combine this with the stress of the holidays, the crazy busy schedules, the consumerism and the expectations that are often impossible to live up to, and you have the perfect storm for the inner storm to arise.
One of the big reasons that I and many others meditate and practice mindfulness is to learn how to deal with our feelings more skillfully.
I often stress that what’s important in our meditation and mindfulness practice is not what happens when we’re sitting in meditation, but how these practices translate into our lives.
Dealing with the holidays and other stressful times with greater grace and peacefulness is a definite goal of mine and many others that I coach.
Here are 5 things that can help you feel more peaceful over the holidays:
1. Be really “present” in your interactions with people.
This is one of those things that is easier said than done. When we’re really present in our discussions with people, our minds are not focusing on what may have happened in the past with this person, or what could happen in the future. The drama in our relationships is all about the stories that we have built around this person and when we are fully present, in the moment with people, there is no room for stories.
2. Practice self-compassion when you’re feeling stressed or uncomfortable.
Recognize and allowing ourselves to feel the full range of our emotions is really important. This means that there may be times when you’re hurting or feeling sad. I shared a powerful self-compassion practice HERE that is really helpful and provides a process you can do in the moment to deal with difficult emotions. I use it all the time and find it really “works” to be kind to myself when I’m having a hard time.
3. Build rejuvenating time into your day.
When we’re busy this is usually the first thing to go. We give and give and give and then feel totally exhausted. And when we do this long enough our exhaustion turns into anger and resentment. It’s so true what some of the meditation masters say: “If you’re too busy to meditate once a day you need to meditate twice a day”.
Being mindful and changing our perspective about this changes our actions. When we realize that we have an infinite ability to give BUT only if we are taking the time to fill ourselves up.
4. Be mindful of your expectations.
Expectations really do cause a lot of pain and suffering in our lives. We have so many expectations about how we would like things to go over the holidays and how we think things should be.
We tie our expectations to our happiness and assume that if things go as planned and according to our expectations, then we’ll be happy and if they don’t then we become disappointed. Having expectations is part of being human. However, the more mindful we are and skillful at acknowledging them and then letting them go, the more peaceful we’ll be.
5. Practice maintaining an inner calm in the outer storm.
One of the biggest gifts of living more mindfully is learning to let the outer chaos happen while recognizing that inner peace is still possible. As Cheryl Richardson said, “Just because some people are fueled by drama doesn’t mean you have to attend the performance.”
What have you found to be helpful in your own life to minimize the drama and maximize the peacefulness over the holidays?