Mindfulness Practices for the Holidays

Over the last few years I have been working on simplifying and amplifying my work and my life, focusing on what is essential to help me feel connected and whole. Part of this work has included getting to the core of what’s working and what’s not working.  What I have learned is when I truly honour what I’m feeling and allow those feelings to guide my choices, I am happier, my relationships are healthier and there is more clarity, more energy and more joy to spread around. The foundation of the work I do for myself and the work I share with others is rooted in mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a practice of growing awareness and developing presence. Why do this? Studies show that practicing mindfulness on a regular basis has a host of health benefits including helping to decrease stress, worry, pain and anxiety and improve sleep. When we are present and aware, we have more options, we move better, make better choices rather than being reactionary and our nervous system as an opportunity to help us heal. For a calmer, more relaxing holiday season I invite you to try these mindfulness practices as you go about your day.

3 Mindfulness practices for the holidays

  1. Breath: Take a minute or more to notice your breathing without trying to change your breath. Feel the inhale coming in. Feel the exhale going out. Be totally present to what each breath feels like and where you feel it the most in your body. Notice what it is that takes your attention away from your breath. (this is normal and expected. Just notice.)
  2. Body Scan: starting with your toes and working up towards your head, feel sensation in each part of the body without judgment or analysis. Some parts will be easier to feel than others. Some sensations will be stronger. Take your time and explore what is present at that moment. (add #1 afterwards if you have time).
  3. Presence: Throughout the day pause and notice sensation in your hands (palms, fingers and whole hand). Similarly notice sensation in the feet. Feel each separately, and both together. Notice how easily you can hold awareness of sensation of the hands and feet at the same time.

Have a great holiday!

Developing Your Mindfulness Practice – Part 7

Yoga_Micheal_easy pose lower bodyIt’s not always happiness and joy felt this time of year. The holidays are often a time of increased stress and anxiety. For others it could be loneliness and sadness. We all experience pain at some point in our lives. This week is the final instalment of my blog series of simple mindfulness practices. After today, I encourage you to keep practicing a little bit a time until it becomes habit. A little by little you will begin to see these mindfulness practices filter into different parts of your life and you will feel great! Today’s practice is an extension on the mindful breathing exercises.

Mindfulness Practice 7:

Melt away __discomfort__ (insert your choice: stress, anxiety, fear, panic, pain, etc)

When you experience  any kinds of discomfort, it is obviously uncomfortable and we want it to go away. Discomfort can come in many shapes and sizes and can be experienced in different ways by different people. For example, anxiety or stress might manifest itself as unwanted thoughts, tightness in your chest or stomach pain. Using our skills as an observer, we can learn to melt our discomfort away, by meeting it head-on.

  • Step 1: recognize the pain/discomfort and label it, eg. “anxiety”.
  • Step 2: breath into that anxiety. Know that it is happening, feel it, be curious about it – how is effecting how your heart feels, how your belly feels, how your chest feels, how your head feels, how does it feel when you begin to breath deeply and slowly. Breath into the most intense discomfort and stay with it for as long as you can.
  • Step 3: be kind to yourself. Recognize that many other people in the world also experience this type of pain/discomfort. Allow yourself to work through the process. The pain/discomfort is not something that is happening to you, it is something you are experiencing and it is your choice how you relate to it.
  • Step 4: As you observe your breath and your discomfort, witness what happens to it. You are in control.

If you have any questions for concerns about your mindfulness practice, or if you would like to share how these practices have influenced you, contact me. I would love to hear your story and try to answer your questions.