The British School of Meditation Blog

17Dec

How meditation can help this Christmas period

Although it is often referred to be ‘the season to be jolly’, the approach to Christmas can instead feel like a season of overwhelm. By the beginning of November, Christmas music starts to be played in the shops, decorations begin to go up, and adverts appear on TV to show us what we should be buying so we can create a 'perfect' family get together - and my golly, don't the TV families looks so happy!

 

When out shopping, I don’t see many people looking happy at the process of pulling off their perfect Christmas.  Instead, I feel I am absorbing their stress as they stride about carrying big bags of shopping.  Or I feel their concern as I watch their furrowed brows contemplating if Great Auntie Elsie would prefer another tin of biscuits or whether she might like to try the rum and raisin fudge this year.

 

To me, the best way to approach Christmas is the same way as approaching my meditation practice:

 

  1. Get grounded: If we start our meditation without grounding ourselves, we will find our mind will return to the constant chatter and it will be harder to retain our focus.  It is the same with Christmas shopping.  The whole experience will be unpleasant if you are going into it with your mind whizzing around.   To ground yourself, you could take a few moments to breathe with the entirety of your body.  Or you could imagine the breath is coming out of the ground as you breathe in, and going back into the ground as your breathe out.  Or, you could pretend that there are roots coming out of your feet and going into the ground below.  When grounded, it is easier to be calm and balanced in your approach.

 

  1. Focus your attention on one thing: in meditation, we can simply apply our focus to the breath, or a word, or an image.  When we do this, we are training our attention to be ‘present’. We can do the same about our Christmas list – we can apply our attention to one task at a time rather than thinking we have to do everything together at the same time.   You could always do some mini meditation moments to help you: focusing on the breath is a powerful way to counter stress– taking conscious breaths can switch your stressed nervous system into a calmer response for your body and mind.  Or reciting a mantra can help to bring calm to anxious brain waves.  You could repeat ‘calm’ to yourself, or you could recite, ‘I have all the time in the world’ 

 

  1. When your mind wanders, notice: of course, when we are meditating, our minds will wander to thoughts, feelings, and stories, but when we realise, we can simply come back to the focus of our attention again.  If you are ruminating about Christmases past, or creating stories about what your Christmas might end up like, simply comeback to the task in hand.  You could always return again to the grounding technique, or use your breath to release any tension from your body and mind.

 

  1. Be compassionate: the practice of non-judgment in meditation is a fundamental foundation for our experience.  If we judge ourselves harshly, it creates a full stop to our flow, and so we learn how meditation is a compassionate practice. We can bring the same principle to our tasks too.  If you are bring hard on yourself, it can be beneficial to remind yourself of a quote often attributed to Socrates: ‘Is it true; is it kind or is it necessary?’.  

 

  1. Accept ‘what is’: in meditation we learn to accept the moment we are in, without trying to change it.  If we do try to control it in any way, we are resisting the current experience.  Acceptance isn’t a passive place.  Instead it allows us see things clearly, and from this we realise we have choice on how to act.  If you bring acceptance to your tasks, you will create much more space for clarity on how to allow it all unfold for you and your loved ones.

 

  1. Sometimes it will be easy, and sometimes it will be hard: sometimes in meditation we can feel in the flow, which can make us feel calm and balanced, as well as bringing a good feeling inside.  Other times, we can feel that we are having a little internal fight going on.  But hard isn’t wrong – hard is where we can learn a lot about ourselves and the meditation practice too.  Your approach to Christmas will be like this too – at times, everything will flow, and other times it will feel like there is a big mountain to climb.  But hard won’t stay around forever – it’s part of the pendulum swing of life.

 

Some of my favourite Christmas moments came when things appeared to be hard and not flowing as expected.  One year, my cooker broke down on Christmas eve.  I spent hours driving around trying to find somewhere which might have a cooked chicken (this was before we had 24 hour shopping). I didn't find anything, so I resolved myself to eat sandwiches instead the next day, when someone offered to cook my turkey for me, and even brought it over with some yummy roast potatoes too. Another time, we were at my mum’s when we had a power cut.  We brought out the candles, and played games.  It meant we ate a lot later, but none of us minded as we all had such a lovely time.

 

Sometimes, the best moments are the perfectly imperfect ones.

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