The holiday season is here, and many of us find ourselves with a long list of preparations that include: making travel arrangements, mailing stacks of “Season’s Greetings” cards, and planning meals for family and friends. While focusing our energy primarily on preparations to make the season merry and bright, we might attempt to push “negative” emotions aside by: ignoring feelings of overwhelm, suppressing sadness about those who cannot be with us, or silently blaming others for not showing up the way we think they should at family gatherings.
When we ignore our own uncomfortable feelings and judgments, they remain an active undercurrent of discomfort, beneath our outward show of good cheer. Then, when family comes, those buried feelings can impact how free we are to enjoy the company we keep.
In the same way that we take time to prepare for the shared, outward experiences of the holiday season — food, decoration, and special traditions — we can spend time preparing for our own blissful internal experiences, too. In other words, we can cultivate tools to manage the stress of the holidays.
To prepare: give yourself this holiday stress-relief kit by practicing each remedy for 5–10 minutes this week. Then, you can choose which you like the most as your special go-to remedy.
3 Mindfulness and Meditation Remedies
Remedy #1 – “Just Like Me”
Hypothetical Stressful Scenario: At dinner, you find yourself next to your cousin who talks incessantly. No one else can get a word in edgewise. You become annoyed, agitated, and restless.
Rescue yourself with “Just Like Me”:
- Take a few deep belly breaths
- As you inhale, feel the belly expand and feel the air flow into the body in a soothing way
- As you exhale, let go of the judgments and tension
- Say to yourself, “Just like me this person has known pain or suffering. Just like me this person wants to be happy. Just like me this person wants to be loved.”
Remedy #2 — Loving-Kindness Meditation
Hypothetical Stressful Scenario: You are feeling anxious about seeing someone in particular at an upcoming family event. Perhaps you have an unresolved argument or past hurt between you.
Rescue yourself with Loving-Kindness Meditation:
- Hold your thoughts, feelings, and whole self in your heart and say to yourself, “May I be safe, may I be free from anger and resentment, may I be happy.”
- Hold the image of someone you love dearly in your heart, and say silently, “May you be safe, may you be free from anger and resentment, may you be happy.”
- Hold the image of those you look forward to seeing at the holidays, and silently send them the wishes, “May you be safe, may you be free from anger and resentment, may you be happy.”
- Hold the image of someone around whom you feel discomfort, and silently send the wishes, “May you be safe, may you be free from anger and resentment, may you be happy.”
- Hold the image of all beings (all you know, all you don’t know), and send the wishes, “May all beings be safe, may all beings be free from anger and resentment, may all beings be happy.”
- Take a few moments, breathing in and out naturally, and see this as so — a world where we all are safe, free from anger and resentment, and happy.
Remedy #3 — Get Outside
Hypothetical Stressful Scenario: You have been at your relative’s house for 3 hours of chit-chat, appetizers, and dinner. You want to stay for dessert and the gift exchange, but you feel drained.
Rescue yourself, get outside:
Temporarily excuse yourself from the table for a break. Step outside for a few moments. Look up at the sky, breathe, and stretch. Take a mindful walk up and down the driveway, breathing and listening to the sounds or silence of nighttime.
By practicing these remedies, you can experience authentic comfort and joy this holiday season and make strides in improving your:
- Heart Health
- Mood and Outlook
- Creative thinking
- Love Connection
The mental and physical health benefits of meditation are so astounding that they make the news! This past September, The New York Times published a discussion between Arianna Huffington and Kobe Bryant, about the role of meditation and relaxation in their lives for well-being and success. Arianna stated, “I was an incredibly self-judgmental person, and I extended that to how I saw others. I had to learn to be more compassionate with myself, and not listen to what I call “the obnoxious” in my head. Kobe is amazing at shutting that out.”
There’s no better time than the holiday season to join Arianna and Kobe as well as doctors, nutritionists, nurses, teachers, moms, dads, children, yoga teachers, and many others in what is rapidly becoming a global mission for compassionate awareness. My sincerest hope is for you to envision a sweet and delightful season, and then allow it to be so. May the light you shine be reflected back to you many-fold, today and always.