Tips for a Mindful Holiday

These are tips for a mindful holiday, any holiday. Birthdays and anniversaries, sunrise, sunset and all of the other events that repeat on our calendars… give us the opportunity to realize our powerful potential.

Yoga for mental health is a soulful practice of poise. It allows us to look at life, from all aspects, with equanimity and curiosity. It encourages compassion and creativity and reveals gratitude and joy. What follows are tips to practice in the midst of it all..

#1/5 tips for a mindful holiday 

PAUSE… 

in between bites, in the midst of a hug, before walking in the door. 

These are the good old days… and you don’t want to miss them. These can also be trying times, and you’ll want to have your wits about you. 

Take a deep breath and pause before the next one. 

Prepare your plate with care (and lots of color!) Position yourself so that you breathe easily while eating. Direct your gaze downward, even close your eyes while you savor flavors. Put your fork down while you chew. 

Take a deep breath before you answer, or ask, questions. Try using a “Hmmmm…” as a sign of active listening, and, as a way to tune your nervous system before responding. 

Take a deep breath when you have your arms wrapped around someone  you love. Sustain your gaze, wink, smile… at your own reflection in the mirror and when you see your heart reflected on someone else’s face. 

Pause when you’re washing your hands and marvel at them. Feel the water, smell the soap. 

Make some space, take some time before bed to relax and reflect. Stop ingesting and start digesting… be quiet, close your eyes, maybe support your spine (to help open your belly) or put your feet up. Just a few minutes like this can help to prepare your body and mind for the deep reset that is sleep. To help  keep your mind more focused, less scattered, you can choose a few moments of gratitude. Repeat them to yourself or write them down. End with a wish for wellbeing, for yourself and for all of those who have been with you in your world on this day.

#2/5 tips for a mindful holiday

NOTICE… 

unique smells, colors, sounds and feelings when outside of your normal routine. The holidays are a GREAT opportunity for this. Linger for a while and learn. Invite others to notice with you… especially if you have kids at your table. Develop a broader perspective, make or reinforce connections, let the moment make an impression by noticing it! 

It can be helpful to apply this tips for a mindful holiday with equanimity. If you notice negative or unpleasant sensations you can elevate your response to them from the subconscious to the conscious level. We don’t have much power over our instincts. We do have, especially with this practice, a LOT of power over how we respond. 

As you invite all of your senses to be present and engaged, you will likely find a greater sense of ease. It is easier when we have our mind, body and heart’s resources all available to deal with whatever’s right in front of us. When one, or many, parts of us are somewhere else… we suffer. 

Have you noticed that most of your suffering comes from this sense of separateness? Sometimes our mind is in a memory, or a fantasy and it misses a reality. Sometimes, we miss the wisdom of our bodies, their fullness, hunger, aches, pains or ease. Sometimes it’s our heart’s desire that’s pushed out or down or held back.

Notice where there is space, when there’s too much and when there isn’t enough. Notice when you are hungry and when you are full. Notice that it is impossible to eliminate this dynamic, it is possible to cultivate poise in its midst.

Notice when you are breathing in, when you are breathing out and when you are between breaths. 🙏🏼

#3/5 tips for a mindful holiday

PROTECT

yourself and those vulnerable souls nearby from unnecessary pain and suffering. There’s quite enough that’s unavoidable, don’t you think?

Be thoughtful with your words (the ones in your head and the ones on your lips.) 

Take breaks from the bustle and go to a quiet place… if there’s not a room in the house for this try sitting quietly on the couch or the floor with a kid or a pet or an elder, take a extra trip to the bathroom or out to the car to walk slowly and breathe deeply for a few minutes. 

This desire (need) to “defend” is intrinsic. If we don’t do it mindfully, our subconscious will come up with ways to do it that might not be so mindful… 

Let the intimacy of a closer connection, a more sustained gaze or touch be part of network of safety that can hold you steady in the midst of a lot of movement. 

Even for a moment, you can shift your senses inward to be sure there’s enough space for you to feel safe. Do this by listening for your breath… amplify it if you can’t hear it. If you can’t hear it still… move to a quieter place and try again. It’s there. Try a Yoga Nidra practice to help clear your mind. We have an audio download for you here: https://yogaformentalhealth.com/guided-meditation/

When you are sure and steady… see if you notice that anyone else is a bit more shaky. 

Share your intention and mindful presence to those who might be dangling. These might be the loudest, most obnoxious people in the room. They might be the ones who are diving into their screens or not saying a word.

Be careful about projecting your behavioral intentions onto other people. Instead, DO what you need to do to stay present and then pay attention to the vulnerability of those around you and honor them. 

#4/5 tips for a mindful holiday ⠀ ⠀ 

FORGIVE…⠀ 

yourself and others for the mistakes of the past and any impatience with the present. ⠀ If this one feels impossible go back to steps #1 – pause, #2 – notice, #3 – protect until you feel safe enough to proceed. ⠀ ⠀ 

Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting, it doesn’t mean permitting. ⠀ ⠀ 

To forgive is to find freedom. ⠀ 

Once free, the life force may grow. It may evolve. It may be that the spark of compassion that sees the potential for this growth is the very component that was needed to allow it to happen. ⠀ 

It’s ok. We’re human. We can learn from our mistakes. ⠀ ⠀ 

See the potential that your brilliant life force has to be realized and, see it in others. Check out a previous post about “The Difficult Person” if you’re dealing with one.

#5/5 tips for a mindful holiday ⠀ ⠀ 

ENVISION…⠀ ⠀ 

the outcome you WANT. We spend a lot of time thinking about the worst case scenario… imagine that mental power directed towards this mindful process!⠀ ⠀ 

With this vision, focus on the feelings, (know that you can’t eliminate unpleasant ones but you absolutely can encourage more pleasant ones!) ⠀ ⠀ 

This requires that you focus on YOUR role. Build your awareness, tolerance and resolve.  

BKS Iyengar, my teacher’s teacher, says: Yoga teaches us to cure what we cannot endure and endure what we cannot cure. ⠀ ⠀ 

Waiting for the chance that “they will… do… say… not do… not say… ” is a terribly powerless situation. Instead, try envisioning another outcome, get your mind working FOR you, not against your (or anyone else’s) potential for NOW. ⠀ ⠀ 

Your people will benefit most from SEEING you happy, contented, joyful, patient, focused, clear (or whatever else you may be desiring.) Feel that possibility, notice when it’s close, do the things that bring you closer. Your insight and intuition can be your guide. ⠀ ⠀ 

Cycle back through Tips 1-4 with each new moment of awareness and watch your path unfold with ease… ⠀ but not without some effort to stay on it!⠀ ⠀ 

Follow @yogamargi on social media for mindfulness practice tips, inspiration and stories! I LOVE hearing how these tips have helped! Share comments, tell people, or message me to keep the intention flowing… 🙏🏼

With great gratitude and LOVE, 

Margi