We are right in the middle of the holiday season. We just enjoyed Thanksgiving dinners and now holiday music is jingling in the background. Bright lights are up and calendars are filled with parties. This holiday season is full of life but sometimes it can become overwhelming. So many activities, various to-do lists, lots of places to be and people to get together with. It can be a lot. Meditation can help you take control of your holiday season. It can make your holiday season more meaningful.
Meditation Helps you be Present
Time flies so fast starting in October with Halloween and speeding quickly towards New years. We fill our time decorating for the holidays, participating in traditions, getting together for endless social gatherings, and shopping. The days fly by with everything we have to do. It is easy to get distracted, cleaning your kitchen or scheduling the next party, that you miss the moment to connect with a family member. It is easy to go into auto-pilot to navigate everything demanding our attention.
So many great memories can be made during this time. Consider finding ways to slow down enough to experience these moments. When you meditate, you practice mindfulness which, of course, increases self awareness. With the tools of self awareness and mindfulness you're in a better place to evaluate what's most important.
Meditation Increases your Compassion
Holidays are a time for social gatherings. Usually there are work parties, community events, and many family get-togethers to celebrate the season. This makes this time an important time of year to have compassion for those around you. It also is a great time to provide empathy and love for those that may not be in the holiday mood because of hard situations.
There is a type of mediation called ‘Metta Meditation’ that focuses on cultivating compassion for yourself and those around you. Don’t let this type of meditation intimidate you. Anyone can perform it, at any time, and in any place. This meditation starts by closing your eyes, getting in a comfortable position and paying attention to your breath. Then in your mind recite positive phrases such as “May I be happy” or “May I be loved”. These phrases generate a feeling of self compassion. This compassion can be channeled outwards to others. To do this, turn your palms up and channel the energy outward, think of someone. You can think of your neighbor, a family member, someone at your workplace. With that person in mind, repeat phrases in your head like “May you be happy” and picture sending love and light to that person. Studies have found this type of meditation is effective in increasing compassion.
Meditation will Decrease your Holiday Stress
The holiday season is seen as bright and cheery, filled with fun memorable times. The parties with loved ones, delicious traditional food, holiday songs can all bring a lot of warmth. However, this time of year has also been known to create a lot of stress. Dr. Stoppler stated “Factors, including unrealistic expectations, financial pressures, and excessive commitments can cause stress and anxiety at holiday time.” Sound familiar? For a lot of us the holidays are often accompanied by delivery truck size loads of stress.
This is where meditation can ease the pressure of the holidays. Meditation is a fantastic way to reduce stress. A study performed at Harvard University found that after just 8 weeks of meditating the portion of the brain responsible for stress actually decreased in size! Remarkably, the areas of the brain that deals with cognition, memory, and compassion all physically increased. Take a few minutes and find a quiet place. It could be in your room, work office, or in your parked car. Close your eyes and turn inward. Listen to your breathing and make an effort to breathe out and release whatever is provoking you. Meditation can help create space for all that you are going through. It helps you observe expectations, pressure, and commitments in a quiet place. It helps to name your stressors and then release them. Take a few minutes when the tension is running high. Step away and observe the feelings that are dragging you down. Just a little awareness in this way can help you not be consumed by these feelings. Some extra energy might be freed up for you to put into things that are of greater importance.
This year use meditation to increase your ability to be present for the important moments with your loved ones. Take a few moments each day to meditate on the moments that matter and clear away the to-do’s and busy tasks from your mind that often accompany the holidays. Give ‘Metta Meditation’ a try and see how your compassion increases for yourself and those around you. Use meditation to clear away your holiday stress so that you can enjoy the holidays. The holidays only come once a year so use meditation to make them more meaningful.