How can our Mindfulness meditation practice support strong connections with those around us over the Christmas period?
My mindfulness practice comes in very handy at Christmas time. From helping me to appreciate all the good fortune in my life to enabling me to navigate difficult relationships and circumstances, it is always there to help me. Based on my habit of daily formal mindfulness practice Christmas becomes a time of gratitude and connection rather than one of stress and isolation.
This was brought home to me in the past week with its pre-Christmas celebrations – both with work and family.
MAHQ had a wonderful evening out last week with lots of laughter and delicious food at Dmitris restaurant in Manchester. We opened our secret Santa presents and happily chatted the night away. Welcoming and getting to know those who were new to the team and talking and smiling with old friends.
My train back home to Scotland was cancelled, but thanks to my mindfulness practice, I gradually made my way north in stages and made the last train to Lockerbie in a relaxed, if slightly resigned, way.
In terms of connection, the mindfulness based compassion training I have done has enabled me to understand the sources of my own struggles and how that leads me to behave reactively. From this understanding I have a deeper empathy for those around me who also struggle in similar ways. Many of the struggles in our day to day lives are somehow magnified at Christmas, especially those to do with our relationships with those we are spending time with over Christmas. As I have gradually become more accepting of my own messy experience of acting out the habits that I have picked up through the conditioning in my own life, I have become more accepting of those around me. This process of acceptance is without condoning or reinforcing my own harmful habits or the harmful habits of those around me. This seems to be a natural fruition of my mindfulness based compassion practice and I am thankful for it, especially at Christmas.
Three tips that help me with connection are:
- Loving Kindness Practice for those who I will be spending time with. Try this loving kindness for self and other practice from our free Mindfulness Based Living app. This reminds me of my intention for my relationships with others and generates understanding for both myself and for the other in the relationship.
- I remind myself that when Christmas is all about ‘my’ enjoyment the results tend to be miserable, but when it is all about ‘our’ enjoyment the results are so much better. So I reflect on what will make those around me happy and seek to find ways we can all enjoy, rather than pondering how to get away with satisfying my own desires.
- Becoming a Kindness ninja and finding every opportunity to do random acts of kindness, for those I know and those I don’t. A smile here, a short conversation there, a phone call or text, giving a gift or a donation.
I would like to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and hope that your mindfulness practice will help you connect with love and understanding with all those around you that you share it with.
Thank you Heather for that lovely reminder on how being aware opens our hearts to ourselves and others in the kindest possible way. Everyone experiences Christmas differently and knowing this keeps our balance, especially during challenging moments with family members who are hurting and not aware of the impact they have on themselves and others.
Acceptance eases our thoughts and feelings to enable us to respond calmly and forgive .. to minimise stress and continue to enjoy the season ? wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy healthy peaceful new year ?Laura Sunderland