7 Ways to Bring Your Mindfulness Practice With You this Holiday Season

I’m writing to you while waiting for my delayed flight at LAX. I’m on my way to spend the solstice, Christmas and New Year’s with my family in British Columbia. I look around to see all the other travelers on their own journeys, and think of you too – each of us entering the world of the holidays in our own way, with our own destinations, inspirations and complications.

This season is a profound time for mindfulness practice. As Ram Dass famously said, “If you think you’re enlightened, spend a week with your family.” One could add, “or be quarantined away from chosen family and friends due to Covid-19.” Either way, staying awake amidst the flood of food, news, and holiday triggers challenges all of us. Whatever the holidays look like, there are ways we can practice inside of them – for greater ease, joy and connection. Below are some ways to keep your practice alive and engaged, however and with whomever you find yourself celebrating.

  1. Take a moment right now to consider your desire. The Buddha taught that “everything rests on the tip of intention.” Our desire guides our attention; so knowing what’s most important to us at this time, is key. Unconscious and unspoken desires can knock us out. But consciously engaged desire is a powerful creative force. Pick a few clear and grounded desires that can guide you within present circumstances. Mine are 1. Drink in the small moments, and 2. Love up each family member with moments of my undivided attention.
  2. Cultivate connection daily. Whether with people, or apart, we can consciously cultivate connection with others. One student I work with aims to take a short daily walk with his wife, so he can hold her hand and establish a ground of intimacy amidst family upheaval. Another intends to text one friend a day, and share how they’ve enriched her life over the past year. I am sure to talk to each member of my family about the things in life they love most – whether it’s my brother’s video games or my dad’s cedarstrip kayak craft. What small daily act can you take to foster connection, near or far?
  3. Enjoy the small moments. Pause and take in what is occurring around you – the softness of light on winter solstice morning, the chaos of kids laughing, the smell of fir and cinnamon, or even burnt cookies – you can include it all. During meals, take the first bite with awareness, really savoring the taste, texture and temperature. Drop in and listen to the sound or silence happening alongside of your dinner. These small moments reset your awareness, anchoring it back inside of your own body and experience.
  4. Contribute. If you feel lonely or out of sorts, put your attention out and be of service. My go-to is doing the dishes. You could read a book to a child, call an isolated friend, or bake some cookies and hand them out to hungry folks in the park. If you struggle with loneliness, remember connection is always available when you’re the one offering it.
  5. Know when you’re “full” (of food, conversation, tv, time inside, etc) and try something different before you “overeat”. Get curious about the moment something goes from delicious and fulfilling to stuffed and annoying. Explore stopping the bite before you’re done, and leave room to want more in the future.
  6. Digest. After taking in the good, empty out. Write some gratitudes, take a walk outside, share your favorite highlights with a loved one, or the coffee shop barista (you can ask for theirs too!). My new year’s tradition is to write 100 gratitudes for the year that has passed – it’s a soulful review, and opens space for what is to come next.
  7. Practice, for even a few minutes a day. Before you get out of bed in the morning, stay with yourself for just 10 breaths. As you step into the shower, take the first moments to feel the heat and wetness of the water before reaching for the soap. As you can, carve out time for your sitting, walking or mindful movement practice. You won’t regret it.

However you practice in this time, all of us at InsightLA wish you deep ease, love and inspiration on this solstice and for the holiday season.


PS: learn how to live more deeply from your heart’s desire in 2022. Join our Intimate Awakening workshop on January 15th and series starting January 25th.

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