Mindfulness Practice During the Holiday Season
~ By Kirsten Antony R.N. ~
So true is it that some of the simple things in life are the things most enjoyed yet can be so elusive. For those of us that celebrate Christmas, the nativity story can be seen as simple. The Christ child is born in a manger and is born to be the light of the world. He is visited by The Three Magi who bear gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Fast forward 2,000+ years, and for many of us, the idea of Christmas and our ways of celebrating it are far from simple. The original three gifts for the Christ child have inspired the idea of Christmas gift giving around the world. These three gifts are often thought of as being more symbolic in nature than of material value, but nonetheless have influenced our current reality of consumer madness at Christmas. Is there a way to slow down the pace around the holidays? To get our sugarplums in our heads back to dancing instead of sprinting toward the Christmas finish line? The practice of mindfulness is a perfect present.
Mindfulness is simple. It is bringing your awareness to this present moment. We really only have this present moment. The past is gone and the future is unknown. If our thoughts go to the past, we are ruminating about how things used to be. If we are thinking of the future, we may be worrying about what is to come. In this present moment, when we live mindfully, we can find more peace, joy as well as better health. We often hurry through tasks of the day and while doing them are often thinking of the next task to accomplish. In mindfulness, the tasks get done but we ease the mind of restlessness and can learn to enjoy even mundane chores. A chore can take the same amount of time in this relaxed state and also helps decrease our stress.
At Christmastime, we are often multi-tasking our holiday to-do list. Wrapping presents, addressing holiday cards, baking cookies and eating Christmas dinner can all be done with mindfulness. While wrapping Christmas presents, enjoy the process instead of hurrying through it. Focus your mind on the act of wrapping the gift. Infuse the gift with love. When eating, take one bite of food and focus all your senses on that one bite. Like savoring that one bite of food, mindfulness can add extra flavor to your life.
The breath can be used in practicing mindfulness. Breathwork can be a very useful tool in bringing awareness to the current moment and avoiding distracting thoughts. By breathing slowly and intentionally from the abdomen, we stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. By switching the parasympathetic nervous system on from the sympathetic nervous system (associated with “fight or flight” and stress) we can improve our health. Lowered blood pressure, increased energy and better quality of sleep are a few health benefits that can be enjoyed from working with our breath and mindfulness.
Mindfulness-Based-Stress-Reduction (MBSR) is a program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979. This program which is offered at hospitals and centers worldwide can help benefit the health of those with conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, PTSD as well as day-to-day stresses. The program combines mindfulness, relaxation and yoga. This is a wonderful program and is offered in the Denver area at locations such as Lutheran Medical Center, Center for Courageous Living and Denver Botanical Gardens.
Perhaps you already practice mindfulness and know that activities such as birdwatching, gardening, drinking tea or knitting can be therapeutic when combined with mindfulness. Whether it be this holiday season or any time of the year, I hope you enjoy one of life’s best presents: being present. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
The content is not intended to substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek advice of your physician or qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical condition.
Kirsten Antony is a Registered Nurse, Certified Reflexologist and Certified in Quantum Field Healing®. Kirsten is a holistic health care practitioner and specializes in foot and nail care. She provides care in the Denver area at a variety of facilities as well as making house calls. For more information visit www.kirstenantony.com or call 303-668-8992.