During a picture perfect Christmas in Costa Rica, extended family and friends gather with time off from work while feasting on traditional tamales and celebrating the holiday. Although this time of year is meant to bring families and loved ones together, there is often increased pressure to please others that can easily lead to physical and emotional burnout, not to mention financial stress. One example of this is the relentless television commercials that bombard Costa Rican citizens with enticing promotional offers and “convenient” payment plans for materialistic goods and gifts that can drive individuals into debt. When the demands are endless, what are supposed to be “joyful” moments become fractured ones that bring tension to the body, mind and spirit.
The antidote to all the stress, over-doing and discord? Find the refuge, the calm and the ability to step back and just be with the present moment by developing or stepping fully into a mindfulness practice. But just what does that mean? It starts with spending less time running around and doing things and more time focused on slowing down while consciously allotting time for balance, meditation and expressing gratitude.
Give More Presence, Less Presents
Instead of spending so much time (and money) shopping for presents, take time this holiday season to be more present through mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the act of staying present with your experience. To act mindfully means to pay attention to what is happening in the moment while noticing what is happening internally. The key to being mindful is to become so aware that you can step back and see what is arising inside of you, whether it’s anger, frustration, boredom, joy, longing, craving or wishing things would be different. Mindfulness is a practice, meaning the more we pay attention and attempt to bring awareness into the spotlight, the better we become at toning down our reactivity and judgment of self and others. Although it seems as if this practice is time-consuming and “self-centered” it actually has the potential to deepen our ability to connect with others as well as our capacity to give our attention more fully to all of the experiences in life.
Remember What’s Important
During the holidays, think about what’s most important to you. It might be family, loved ones or any practice in your life that brings you happiness like art, sports or spiritual activities. Allot time each day to dive in and devote yourself fully to what you love.
Practice Saying “No” and Stay Mindful
To practice saying “no” and stepping back from the endless tasks is often the key to staying grounded and healthy over the holidays and during the rest of the year. To learn to give but not to the point of compromising health and wellbeing is the goal. Make time for yourself and create the conditions for calm to enter your life to find acceptance, balance and true joy.