The festive period can invoke huge swings in thoughts and feelings – such as ‘excitement’ and ‘joy’ at the prospect of seeing friends and family as well as ‘fear’ of not getting everything done in time and perhaps even ‘sadness’ at the thought of absent loved ones. If we don’t get these thoughts and feelings in perspective, they can leave us feeling stressed, overwhelmed and drained.
I’m going to share with you two simple meditations that will help you hit the ‘pause button’ for a few moments to find that place of calm and the awareness within yourself to enjoy those precious moments to the full. A regular practice over the festive season will help you to feel refreshed and restored for 2018.
You may be sceptical having heard the word ‘meditation’ but bear with me…I’m NOT going to ask you to sit cross-legged under a ‘Bodhi’ tree and empty your mind for hours at a time. However, I am going to ask you to continue with your day-to-day activities, eat chocolate and you can even keep your eyes open if you want to.
‘Mindfulness’ is a type of meditation that takes you away from the chatter in your mind and straight into the present moment, which cultivates a sense of calm and awareness. Once the exercise is finished you are in a better place – clear about where you’re going next and what you’re going to do, so that when you get there you can give it your undivided attention and experience the moment. What’s a greater gift than giving yourself or a loved one your presence?
Here’s how to do it…choose a regular day-to-day activity such as hanging out the washing, giving your child a hug or even wrapping a gift. While you’re carrying out the activity ask yourself five questions…
- What am I doing now? (Acknowledge the physical sensations that you can feel)
- What is my emotional state now? (Am I feeling calm or overwhelmed?)
- What is my mental state now? (Am I thinking about what I’m doing or am I thinking about something that happened earlier in the day or something that’s going to happen later?)
- What can I hear now? (Notice sounds close by and those further away)
- What is the quality of my breathing now? (Is it fast and up at the top of my lungs or is it full and slow and is my belly moving as I breathe?)
If your attention wanders, then simply and gently invite your attention back to the exercise (this is very normal and being aware of your attention wandering is where the magic lies).
I love to practise this mindful meditation when I’m hanging out the washing. I breathe in the fresh air, feel the temperature on my face and hear the trees moving in the wind. I notice my feet on the ground and the texture of the clothes in my hands as I hang them out. I tune into how I’m feeling and where my mind is.
This exercise is soooo simple and allows me to push the ‘pause button’, take a breather and be in a better place to choose my next activity. For example, if I have good energy I will begin another household chore. If I’m tired I will take note and think about when in the day there might be an opportunity for me to relax or perhaps even get to bed earlier.
This practice can also help improve memory. By focusing on what you’re doing it’s possible to eliminate annoying habits like losing keys.
Another technique which is great for this time of year is the ‘Chocolate meditation’ and here’s how to do it…
The Chocolate meditation
Choose a piece of chocolate – a variety that you don’t usually eat or haven’t tried before (shouldn’t be too difficult at this time of year). Good quality flavoursome chocolate will work really well. If you’re not a fan of chocolate – try another confectionary. Preferably one that takes a little while to dissolve.
- Take the wrapper off and feel the chocolate with your fingers – notice the temperature and the texture.
- Smell the chocolate or sweetie and allow its scent to sweep over you.
- Notice the sound as you break off a piece.
- Look a the confectionary and allow your eyes to consume every detail.
- Put piece in your mouth. See if you can hold it on your tongue without moving or chewing it. Chocolate has over 300 hundred flavours. What do you notice?
- If your attention wanders (which is very normal) and you notice, simply acknowledge the thought or feeling and gently invite your attention back to the chocolate (the present moment).
If you’d like to have a go at some more meditation then Prana Mama Yoga is running a “Festive Meditation for Beginners” class to raise funds for Kayleigh’s Wee Stars on Wednesday 20th December ’17 at the Kintore Public Hall from 7.30-8.30pm. For more information or to book a place go to our events page
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you. Because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it”. Roald Dahl