In some ancient traditions, prayers for prosperity and abundance were coupled with great feasts of celebration and gratitude. As holiday feasts get under way this year, there's no better time to reflect on the year and all that there is to be thankful for.
Practicing sincere mindful gratitude is a great way to bring truth and fulfillment to festive traditional (and nontraditional) gatherings—especially since it's easy to take routine traditions for granted. Mindfully move through the holidays with these three pro tips.
Going to a dinner party or holiday fete? Set the tone before you leave the house.
How many of us have holiday memories of rushing around getting dressed only to show up fashionably late? That's one tradition we could all stand to break. Give yourself plenty of time to get ready mindfully—so you can relax and be grateful for the people you're about to see and the opportunity you have to celebrate.
Sit down for a few minutes before you rush out the door. Take a few deep breaths. Bring your awareness to your heart and contemplate how far you've come. You may be going through some difficulty, and during the holidays it's easy to dwell on that. Instead, recognize and appreciate all of the transformation and healing you've experienced. Bring this gratitude with you to the gathering, and share it with everyone you see there.
Trekking through holiday traffic? Let gratitude be your mantra.
Holiday traffic is practically a tradition at this point: we come to expect and loathe it at the same time. Why not do your adrenals a favor, and make it easy on yourself this year?
My driving mantra is "Calmly, safely, thankfully." Plan for plenty of travel time so you can make your way to your destination calmly, safely, and thankfully. There's so much hustle and bustle all around us this time of year, but in the space of your car, you're in charge! If impatience or frustration arises, take a deep breath and silently repeat the mantra—"calmly, safely, thankfully"—before responding.
Turn up some upbeat music that works for you and everyone in your car, drive courteously, smile at other drivers, use your turn signal, mind the weather conditions, and heck—why not let that other car merge in front of you?
Let those around you know how you feel.
During the holidays, we're often confronted by our own insecurities, whether we're faced with difficult family dynamics or just trying to navigate crowds to get errands done. So it's an ideal time to develop a mindful awareness of how we interact with others, the words we say, and the tone we use. It's easy to impatiently deliver a sharp remark to a loved one when prepping a meal or express visible frustration when the bank teller is taking too long.
If we're connected to the truth of the present moment, and aware of how these hurtful things can leave deep imprints on the confidence and self-worth of those around us, we'll choose more compassionate language, a more loving tone, and a more patient approach. The holidays can be tough on anyone, but we can make it easier by letting those around us know how much we love and appreciate their presence in our lives.
Putting the needs of others on par with our own, reminding ourselves of the value they bring, and mindfully experiencing every part of the holidays—good and bad—are the keys that will unlock a deeply fulfilling and memorable celebration of the season.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho