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blog-calendar Dec 18

Have Yourself A Sane Little Christmas

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how much stress can there be? It’s the final countdown. One week till the big day. Hopefully by now you are enjoying the season and not settling in for a long winter’s nap. Have no fear, meditation is here! In the last blog we talked about the benefits of mindful meditation. Now let’s dig in to what and how we can practice it.


Let’s start with when can/should we mindfully meditate. This is up to you. Some people feel it’s best and possibly easiest to do it first thing in the morning. Take an extra five to ten minutes in bed to set your intentions for the day with clear focused goals and emotional placidity. But be careful not to doze back off. Just before bed at night is another great time to meditate. By taking five to ten minutes to reflect on your day and clear your mind, a better night’s sleep could be an additional benefit. You can practice while your baby is napping, you can bundle up and step outside for a few quiet moments, you can even meditate while exercising. The options are endless. As long as you can have a short time of uninterrupted mindful thought, it can be on a work commute, while doing dishes, even brushing your teeth. The importance is having focus.


Which brings us to how we mindfully meditate. The biggest part of mindful meditation is focus. Make yourself a mental space in which you are void of distractions. This can be somewhere quiet or a place with ambient, white noise. Popping in some headphones for musical ambiance can also be a quick fix and may even help those that need auditory stimulation. The biggest takeaway is to minimize distractions. This will enable you to drift into a meditative state for longer periods of time, instead of being snapped back into reality.

Now that you have focus, mindfulness meditation is all about bringing that focus to the present. Other forms of mediation are either about letting your mind wander or trying to clear and empty your mind completely. Mindfulness is about directing your thoughts to the present moment, your present thoughts, emotions, and sensations. When your mind wanders, which it inevitably will, recognize what your mind wandered to and why. And then resume with a refocused intent on the present moment.


If you are having a hard time, there are a few tricks of the trade that can ease that noisy mind. Bringing awareness to the breath can be an incredibly useful tool. By giving the brain a task, we can minimize the chatter it provides in quiet moments. Take slow deep breaths. Concentrate on how the breath fills your lungs, the sensation of the air on our nostrils from cool to warm. Body analysis is another sensation-based means to aid in focus. Start at the top of the head and work your way mentally, without moving, all the way to your toes. Notice how things feel. Warm, cold, itchy, weighted? Is there soreness or a sense of complete relaxation? If you need to move based on pain, do so, but try to keep still regardless of the sensation and instead just bring the mental awareness to it. Music is also helpful. Try to pick something relaxing and preferably without vocals. Fixate on how the music makes you feel or even corresponding the music to match your heartbeat or brain waves. Which leads into visualization. Visualizing is another form of tasking your mind. By giving it a job, to create a visual, it can easily distract it from distracting you. It can be a place, a serene dock by the lake, or even colors, like a kaleidoscope; as long it allows you to keep that concentration and serenity.


Mindfulness is about being aware, receptive, and free of criticism or judgement toward others and more importantly, yourself. Taking a few minutes a day to practice this can positively shape your world around you. Quiet, calm, reflective thought and self-awareness are skills. Every skill takes practice. So don’t be discouraged if you are interrupted, if your mind wanders a bunch, or if you generally have problems focusing the first several times you try. Keep at it. With Christmas upon us and a new year peeking ‘round the corner, it’s more important than ever to keep those stress levels low and positive thinking high. Take time this holiday season to try something new, or maybe dive back into the practice if you’ve lapsed. After all, it’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year!


By Libby Young

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