So with Christmas almost upon us, are you already quite stressed out?
Or are you chilled out and taking everything in your stride?
As for me, as the holidays approach, I can feel the stress of additional chores bubbling up.
Shopping, decorating, cooking, wrapping presents, Christmas cards, party planning; the list goes on and on. All of this on top of my normal daily activities that are often already too much to handle.
In the midst of this hurricane of to-dos, there is one thing that helps me stay sane: meditation. Ah, the time spent alone with no demands, with no lists, with nothing to be done.
The luxury of being with me, just me, even if for a few minutes is priceless.
When life gets busy, I like to add small pockets of meditation throughout the day on top of my morning meditation.
These extra periods of “me” time keep me balanced and allow the stress to easily melt away.
But how can I possibly carve this precious time for myself when the holidays are eating up all my free time? The solution is actually quite simple and yet profound.
Meditating on the Go
The following five tips provide small doses of meditation and mindfulness throughout the day, just enough to keep you centred when the going gets tough.
Feel free to mix and match these exercises and adapt the situation to anything that you encounter.
1. Tramping Around the Mall? Use Walking Meditation
As you walk around the mall, street, or even your house, practice walking meditation by being mindful of your steps.
Concentrate on each step and silently say “left, right” as you step with each foot. Gently let the words drop from your mind as you continue to focus on your steps.
This is a mindfulness exercise that allows us to keep our focus in the moment.
As we bring our attention to something so trivial as our step, the rest of the world melts away.
2. Waiting in Line? Use Breathing Meditation
During the holidays season the lines can get horrendously long – and you might end up spending more time than planned waiting in line.
This is a great opportunity to meditate on the go. Instead of constantly looking at your watch and checking how much time you’ve wasted in line, use this valuable time to go within.
Start by concentrating on your breathing. Repeat silently “in, out” as you inhale and exhale. Slowly drop the words but keep your awareness on your breath.
As you calmly wait in line, consciously breathe and nurture yourself with the breath of life.
No need to do anything else, this will be enough to instantly calm you and re-energise your whole being.
3. Waiting at The Doctor’s Office or Waiting For Someone to Arrive? Use Simple Meditation
When we are waiting for others it’s a great opportunity to use this time for a little burst of meditation.
Close your eyes, or softly gaze down if you’re not comfortable closing your eyes where you are.
Watch your thoughts go by without getting attached to any thought in particular.
Let the sounds of the world fade away as you go within. Stay with this practice for a few moments.
Even if you do this for just a moment it is enough to centre you.
4. On Your Lunch Break? Practice Mindfulness
As you eat, bring your awareness to the act of eating.
With each bite, notice the flavour and texture of the food. Consciously chew each morsel on your plate.
This easy exercise allows you to slow down as you savour the simple pleasures in life.
Making your meals a ritual of awareness allows you stay grounded in preparation for whatever comes next in your day.
5. Time for Bed? Use Guided Meditation
If you didn’t have time to relax or meditate during the day, do not fret!
You have one more chance to meditate as you fall asleep.
A simplified version of “Yoga Nidra” or “Yoga sleep” can be used as a guided meditation to help you effortlessly fall asleep as you relax your whole being.
When you’re ready to go to sleep, lay on your back. Find a comfortable position with your arms to your sides and your legs slightly apart. Close your eyes and slowly start to scan your body.
Bring your awareness to the top of your head and breathe into that area relaxing that part of your body. Then bring your awareness to your eyes, breathe into that area as your eyes start to totally relax.
Repeat this process with every part of your head such as nose, cheeks, mouth, chin, and ears.
Continue moving down your body until you reach your toes. By then you’ll probably already be asleep.
To make it even easier, there are various guided meditation and Yoga Nidra CDs that you can play as you go to sleep so that you don’t have to be in charge of the process.
The practice of Yoga Nidra and guided meditation has been found to reduce tension and anxiety.
Try it for yourself and see how it can help you sleep more peacefully.
Make it Your Own
As you can see, there are many opportunities throughout the day that can be used to create bursts of relaxation.
Play with these exercises and generate your own pockets of bliss.
The holidays will never be the same once you discover how to infuse mindfulness into your daily activities.
This is a Guest Post from my lovely friend Andrea DeBell to help you have a stress-free holiday season.
Nice guest post Andrea, thanks for sharing. With the amount of snow that’s fallen in our area, and the cold temperature to accompany it, a lot of people aren’t exactly happy.
It’s this advice, of using meditation, that people can find helpful throughout these times, especially when things can get rough. Many thanks 🙂
Hi Stuart! Thanks. The weather and external situations can sometimes challenge our ability to sustain happiness. Meditation, mindfulness, and even just present-moment awareness can help us bring the focus back inwards. Best of luck with all the snow over there and may you have a joyous holiday season.
Thanks for starting the conversation. Loving blessings!
Great suggestions for applying meditation to the hustle and bustle of the holiday. I really like the idea of using breath work while standing in line. Most people are really in a hurry to get from place to place and remembering to focus on our breath while standing or driving is a great technique to help stay patient. Thanks for the reminder to stay calm and collected!
Hi Joe! Nice to see you! These are all little tricks I love. The breath meditation can also be used in any stressful situation you encounter, such as before a big presentation at work. It works like a charm to relax and help me collect my thoughts.
Thanks for your insights. Loving blessings!
Did you know the no. one complaint in the USA is “waiting?” Your exercises are perfect and needed. I always like to have a book with me when I know I have to wait. I also like to pray or bless the people around me as I wait. Everyone is struggling with something so I figure I can silently help them out.
Hi Tess! I didn’t know that. Like you, I always make the kids bring a book when we go to a place that there might be some waiting. I like the idea of blessing others around us. We can all use some extra blessings!
Thanks for your wonderful tips. Loving blessings!
Good job, Andrea. I find these quick moments of “situational” meditation are how I most often meditate. I rarely seem to take the time for a long, deliberate session of meditation anymore, but I seem to always find times when I can get in a few minutes.
Hi Gip! I’m with you on this one, it’s better to meditate a little here and there then not at all, right? I still do my daily morning meditation because it’s a way for me to set the tone for the day. But these quick burst of quietness are really great keep the momentum going.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Loving blessings!
Good morning Arvind; still buried under the London snow?
I’ve kept my sanity via no Christmas shopping; well at least none in the “malls” or places like that. There no fighting crowds, no waiting.
All the best to the Devalia household.
Todd, good to see you back here again. Thanks for your kind wishes.
Fortunately the London snow is now subsiding:-)
Well done for keeping your sanity!
Wishing you too al the best for Xmas and 2011.
What an excellent post. It’s such a great reminder since, although I practice these things, I do find that unless reminded from time to time, I often forget to practice them until well into .
I do find that the more I do it, the more it becomes second nature with no reminders needed.
Your #5, the bedtime meditation, is especially helpful to me right now. What a difference it makes to go to sleep mindfully.
Thanks so much!
I agree that we all need a reminder from time to time. Although, as you said, it does become second nature the more we practice it. When we get to the point that we don’t even notice it, we just do it, that’s when things get really exciting.
Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. Loving blessings!