Mindful Holidays, Part I

Did you ever try to remember details about past holidays and find that they all blur together?   When I noticed this, I realized it was partly because my family celebrated exactly the same way every year.   More importantly, I recognized my tendency to become less mindful as I got caught up in the busyness and activities of the season.  I seemed to go into ‘auto-pilot’ mode where I let myself be swept away by the tide of traditions and family expectations.

That’s when I decided to begin mindfulness practice to be more mindful and create something uniquely memorable about each holiday.  To do this, I needed to SLOW DOWN so that I could consciously consider and wisely select each holiday activity.  And I needed to remember to be more fully present for each activity that was so carefully chosen.  This process of Mindful Holidays, the conscious choice of activities and participation in my own unique way, was quite liberating. With mindfulness practice, I am less concerned about appearances, judgments or expectations.  By being mindful, not only have the holidays become more memorable, but they’ve also become a lot more fun.

Mindful Holidays are an avenue to greater meaning, creativity, and joy.  As you enter you’re your holiday activities, I invite you to pause and find ways to participate with greater mindfulness.

You may want to start by giving yourself permission to live true to your values this holiday season.   Set aside some quiet time to explore your own reasons for the season.

*        Is this time of year important to you because of the spiritual traditions?  How can you participate more fully in ceremony and celebration this year?

*      Is this the time of year when you revel in parties and socializing?  Would you have more energy and love to share if you chose to attend fewer (or more) functions?

*        Is connection with family the highlight of your holiday season?  In what ways can you engage more fully and authentically with every member of your family?

*        Is your health high on your values list?  In what ways will you take excellent care of yourself this season – physically, mentally, emotionally?

Take time each day to review your schedule and make sure that you are focused on activities that represent your values instead of blindly rushing from event to event.

If you feel that an activity you don’t usually enjoy cannot be changed, then set the intention to deepen your mindfulness and attention to experiencing the activity fully, rather than getting stuck in negative thoughts about it.  You will experience the activity differently – who knows, it might even seem fun again!

What will you choose for yourself this holiday season?  Give yourself permission and freedom to make it your own.  Make it the best holiday ever!  Why not?

Brook Montagna, Mindfulness Coach & Spiritual Life Coach


  • Paula Spellman says:

    While raising my children I felt the increasing pressure of the commercial vs the spiritual celebration of Christmas, so I decided to acknowledge both. I explained the difference to my daughters and it allowed us to enjoy the “Santa Claus” event fully for what it was; a media and material event.

  • brook says:

    Thanks for sharing your family’s way of celebrating Paula. Seems there are as many ways to celebrate the holidays as there are people in the world. After giving myself permission to celebrate any way I choose each year, I’ve noticed that the focus is different each year, sometimes more toward the spiritual, sometimes more toward family, sometimes more toward social contribution, and sometimes I’m totally into decorating in new ways. This year I feel focused on quiet, spiritual connection and friendship.

  • Brooks says:

    Thank you for this great post! I was especially struck by the part about mindfully approaching events you do not wish to do, but cannot change. I recently heard Eckhart Tolle discussing this with Oprah, about how purposely experiencing every moment of these previously unwanted events can actually make them interesting and meaningful. It’s the intersection of mindfulness and acceptance. I’m going to try it out when visiting my relatives :). Peace…

  • brook says:

    It’s true – time with relatives makes sure we never run out of opportunities for mindfulness practice! Brooks, thanks for commenting and I hope you’ll come back and post about your mindful holiday experiences with family.

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