2 Easy Meditation Practices to Soothe Holiday Heartache

December 14, 2015
by Benjamin W. Decker for Thrive Market
2 Easy Meditation Practices to Soothe Holiday Heartache

As we get ready to see our families over the holidays, we often put pressure on ourselves to uphold certain expectations. Getting inundated with advertisements encouraging us to spend money we don't have on things we don't need doesn't help.

When venturing into this blitz of hectic travel and consumerism, mindfulness can serve as something of a secret weapon. But what about the melancholia that seems to come along with this time of year? Between the harsh reality of family reunions and frigid weather, it's easy to dwell on all that's changed—of the long-gone "good old days," loved ones who aren't around anymore, and any number of other hardships.

I'd like to introduce to you, the antidote to holiday heartache: Heartfulness.

Like its cousin, mindfulness, heartfulness is a state of open, active awareness on the present moment and the dynamics at play in every circumstance. What makes heartfulness unique is love. When you're being heartful, you're making the decision to maintain a compassionate perspective. Spiritual author Marianne Williamson says, "Until we have seen someone's darkness, we don't really know who they are. Until we have forgiven someone's darkness, we don't really know what love is." Heartfulness is more than taking the spiritual high road—it's the release of all judgment, the full acceptance of another, and the loving understanding that we never really know all of what another soul is going through.

Here are two different ways to give it a try.

Heartfulness as emotional first aid

When to do it:

  • When someone has hurt or offended you; or when you have hurt or offended someone.
  • When someone else's sadness, frustration, anger, impatience, or depression affects you; or when your sadness, frustration, anger, impatience or depression affects others.
  • When you're feeling disconnected from others.

What to do:

  1. Pause. Stop what you're doing. Take a few deep breaths to dilute any stress that's been released into your system.
  2. Take a moment to remind yourself of what's important to you: relationships, safety, love, etc.
  3. Bring to mind images of friends and family laughing, smiling, in their most sincere, loving, generous, vulnerable, innocent, open state. Sit with this. Feel that warmth and appreciation that naturally comes along with these images.
  4. Bring to mind images of yourself. See yourself laughing, smiling, in your most sincere, loving, generous, vulnerable, innocent, open state. Have compassion for yourself.
  5. Bring to mind images of those who have hurt you. Continue those deep breaths and begin to envision them laughing, smiling, in their most sincere, loving, generous, vulnerable, innocent, open state. Show them compassion in your heart.
  6. Return to your day, intentionally maintaining that heartful compassion.

Heartfulness as a daily practice

When to do it:

  • First thing in the morning, after you've showered, brushed your teeth, made your bed, and gotten ready to go out in the world. It's a chance to take a moment to set the tone for your day.
  • Last thing in the evening, before you go to bed, right before or after your bedtime routine.
  • In the middle of the day, when you've got some free time.

What to do:

  1. Find a comfortable seat. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths.
  2. Remind yourself of what is important to you: relationships, safety, love, etc.
  3. Bring to mind images of friends and family laughing, smiling, in their most sincere, loving, generous, vulnerable, innocent, open state. Sit with this. Feel that warmth and appreciation that naturally comes along with these images.
  4. Bring to mind images of yourself. See yourself laughing, smiling, in your most sincere, loving, generous, vulnerable, innocent, open state.
  5. Bring to mind images of those who have hurt you. Continue those deep breaths and begin to envision them laughing, smiling, in their most sincere, loving, generous, vulnerable, innocent, open state.
  6. Bring to mind images of those you see on a regular basis, in passing, at work, in social circles—the neutral group you interact with in the periphery of daily life. Envision them laughing, smiling, in their most sincere, loving, generous, vulnerable, innocent, open state.
  7. Take a deep breath, open your eyes, and return to your day.

Photo credit: Alicia Cho

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This article is related to: Anxiety, Love, Meditation, Mental Health, Mindfulness, Stress, Heart

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