The best gift you can give yourself or anyone else this Christmas is to be present.
When we are present, the mind can't wander into the past or the future, where worries and regrets live. Staying in the here and now allows us to connect with our lives and those in them as they are, and we often realise that life is better than we think.
This Christmas, try as best you can to stay in your senses, and not so much in your head. Set a reminder on your phone to prompt you to reconnect with what is actually happening: what you can see, hear, feel, and (not forgetting the dinner) smell. :)
You can also use the breath to come out of your head and into the body. If there's anxiety present, make the exhale a little longer than the inhale.
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”
With 7.53 billion people on the planet, the odd disagreement is bound to happen from time to time. Add to that the daily pressures of work, family, bills, and it's easy to see how we can get into arguments with each other!
Being at war with someone (or something) can exert a severe toll on you mentally and physically, we can spend lots of time mulling over what was said, full of outrage at the wrongs that have been done to us, or insulted by the injustice of it all!
The truth of this is that the person who you are at war with is not suffering from all this thinking, you are. Thinking stressful and angry thoughts take their toll on the body, and on your peace of mind, and by keeping it up you are serving the person you are fighting with, not yourself!
So, a helpful question to ask yourself when conflict arises is: Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy?
If we can take the long view, and remember that in a week this conflict will likely be forgotten, then is it really worth the mental anguish now? Isn't life too short to be stressed and unhappy?
Maybe we can put our own well-being ahead of the need to be right. It might be a challenge, but it's worth it!
"Resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die." - Unknown
Instructions for "Breathing in Patience":
Life is full of challenges, and the temptation can be to jump in and try to 'fix' things, 'make things right', 'smooth things over'. We can begin to judge ourselves negatively when we can't fix things, or make them right, or smooth them over.
Sometimes we need to let time play it's role, and engage in some patient acceptance of the untidiness of life in the meantime.
If we can learn to sit with uncomfortable feelings, and employ our breath to help us do so, time will shed a new light on our troubles, new perspectives will present themselves, hurt will heal.
"I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature." - Paulo Coelho
Instructions for "Getting YOUR Priorities Right":
It will be helpful to set a reminder on your phone to go off once or twice a day, at different times of the day. You want the reminders to be random, and to cover many different areas of your life over the course of the week.
This is a wonderful practice to help us see what is good in our lives. For instance, you might be so used to waking up with your partner that you forget to notice what a lovely thing it is to share your life with this person. You might be so frazzled having the kids off school that you don't notice the joy that they are. Notice what's good in your life and be grateful for it.
This exercise also serves to highlight where change might be needed. Sometimes it can feel like life is happening to us. We may make choices based on what is expected from us, or from what everyone else is doing. We might chose to do something because it is the 'safe' option, or because it is familiar. Or, we simply may not believe in ourselves and our power to make our own choices.
Your life is yours. For the most part, you can do with it what you wish, and if you don't stop and pay attention, you may find it's too late to take that journey you dreamed of, try that career you thought you might be good at, be with the person you love, or appreciate the wonderful things that you have.
If you were to look back at your life in 30 years, what would you want to remember?
"I am larger, better than I thought; I did not know I held so much goodness."
Instructions for "Touch Points":
This is the first of three 'anchoring' practices that we will explore over the coming weeks. Your anchor is the place of calm and stillness within you that you can return to whenever you feel you need it. Each person is different, and what works for you will be different from what works for another person. Try each of the guided practices over the next few weeks, and see what works best for you, then make your chosen practice a habit so you can find your anchor when you need it. :)
*Practice adapted from Pollak, Pedulla, & Siegel
"Since the body is always available as an object of meditation, becoming interested and curious about physical sensations is one of the easiest ways to come into the present moment. This practice can help us see the difference between direct experience and what we add on." - Pollak, Pedulla, & Siegel
Instructions for "The Gift of Attention":
For at least one interaction or conversation you have with someone each day this week, set your intention to give them your full attention. Here are some tips to help you:
We all know how good it feels to have someone be present and really hear us, but in this busy world it's a rare thing. My clients often comment on the benefit they feel from just being listened to, and I feel a benefit too, as I get to switch off from my own stories, and connect with another person.
This week, try to slow down and give someone your attention (be it the shopkeeper or your spouse), and see how it's a gift for both of you.
"One of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone is the gift of attention." - Jim Rohn
Instructions for "A Stitch in Time"
Next time you're in a heated situation - for example - your partner or a family member has said something annoying.:
What you just practiced is invaluable if you want a peaceful life. Getting into arguments is rarely helpful, and arguing drains your energy. Choosing to side-step an argument or an upset saves your energy, and it opens the door to any new solutions that may have remained unexplored because you've been too busy fighting to see them!
You'll find two challenges to doing "A Stitch in Time":
The first is remembering to do it - the answer is to just do it regularly throughout your day, and remember your neuroplasticity—your brain will get used to doing it and it will become a new habit.
The second is that being peaceful sometimes comes at the cost of being right, but, even though it may be tough to swallow, it's worth it in the long run, for your mental and physical health, and your relationships.
" A Stitch in Time Saves Nine - If you sort out a problem immediately it may save extra work later." - Oxford Dictionaries (& My Granny)
Instructions for What's my attitude?
"Mindfulness helps us to step out of habitual ways of seeing and interacting with other people and it can help us to avoid becoming mired with resentments as time goes on." - Padraig O'Morain
The Weekly Minute is a blog I write each week with the aim of providing legitimate tools to help promote positive mental health.
The collection of short, practical mindfulness and therapy tools for self-reflection and self-improvement, can equip people to take their mental well-being into their own hands, and improve their quality of life.
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