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Bringing Peace Back to the Holiday Season Through Mindfulness
Peace, joy, and gratitude – these are the things we wish for during the holiday season and all year long. But sometimes these feelings are hard to come by in our stressful world, especially during Christmas, because we are bombarded with thoughts that may not be comforting or joyful.
I worked with Charlotte, a mother in her forties who was often depressed and depressed during the holidays. He focuses on his negative thoughts and ends up not being able to be happy or happy in the moment. Every year, he lives in a prison built by his own thoughts and ideas, away from his family’s blessings and celebration.
When Charlotte came to me, accusing herself of harsh punishments, I asked her what she would say if a friend came to her like bad on himself. Charlotte said she would show love and understanding. He listens to his friend. “Why don’t we start there with you?” I asked.
The first step for Charlotte is to learn and practice memory and focus on time. This awareness can create a relationship between you and your environment, including the people around you. It’s about being normal – don’t judge.
I asked Charlotte to begin this meditation process by focusing on the simple pleasures of the holidays: the smell of pine needles on a tree, the velveteen of stocking fabric on her toes, and the taste of the texture of a Christmas cookie as he slowly walked away. and he chewed it. I asked him to come and experience those situations as they happened. And if a negative thought occurs, just notice the thought, accept it, and then return to time: the smell, the touch, the taste.
The result of happiness is a biological phenomenon, unique to the individual. Research has shown that attention to kindness and appreciation promotes the release, secretion, of two chemicals that help us feel happy and healthy: oxytocin and dopamine. This helps us connect with others.
The opposite is also true. If we think negatively, attack ourselves and others with negative thoughts, our brain triggers the release of adrenaline and dopamine, two chemicals that can increase anxiety. This drives us away from others.
After a while, Charlotte begins to notice how often those negative thoughts and feelings interfere with the simple pleasures of the holiday season. At one point, he said that he now realized that negative thinking had become his “default” way of thinking, that he went through life on autopilot. This made him lose sight of most of the world around him.
The next step is when Charlotte realizes her mind and control. And he began to judge himself because he didn’t remember. At that point, it is necessary to return to the idea of helping a friend. “How would you say and act if this was a friend who was saying these things to you?”
Charlotte began to put herself on autopilot at a young age, growing up in an alcoholic home. This past must be accepted before he can truly embrace his feast. I worked with Charlotte to label negative thoughts as judgment, fear, or hopelessness. As Charlotte does this every time she has an idea, she begins to see the good in that negative thought. Better yet, he began to see what his options were.
Why is it important to share Charlotte’s story with you now? Because thinking can be learned and the holiday season, with its ups and downs, joys and stresses, and hopes and expectations, it’s a good time to learn to take care of yourself and your thoughts. The neuroscientist Dr. Wayne Drevets observed “In the brain, practice makes it permanent.” We can start to change our thinking, to change our thinking during the holidays. This time of year gives us an opportunity to redefine our thoughts about ourselves and those around us.
If you want to try some techniques to calm your mind during the holidays, here are some ideas:
1. Focus on your breath. While breathing, think “be.” And when you breathe out, think “calm.” Breathe in and out slowly and mindfully.
2. Take 30 seconds (or more) to keep your focus and mind on the present moment, IN the here and now.
3. Cut your negative thoughts. Write down “judgment,” “fear,” “recovering the past,” and it comes to mind. So, focus your attention on the here and now.
4. Work to produce those feel good chemicals, oxytocin and dopamine. It’s called the Love Meditation, say in your mind:
• Let me calm down
• Let me live
• Let me give life love to others
• Let there be peace
• Good luck to you
• Be full of love
5. Look for happy moments. See when you are happy with someone else.
6. Look at your feelings of jealousy and resentment and ask yourself why it happened.
7. Forgive yourself. Say, “For the ways in which I have been jealous and hated, I will forgive you.”
8. Send gratitude to yourself. Be grateful for the time you have extended kindness and love to others.
9. Allow yourself to focus on what makes you and those around you happy.
10. Remind yourself of the here and now. Look at the many blessings that surround you. Consider writing these blessings as the day ends.
11. Plan to find happiness, love and the miracles that surround you. If you have trouble seeing these things, ask yourself why.
Charlotte is learning to see the many gifts around her, and now the holidays have found many ways to practice awareness.
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