The importance of a mindfulness practice, especially at this time of year from our friend Claire Robbie.
The festive season can be an intense time for many of us. There can be so much ‘to do’ - preparation for the holidays; family time; the end of the business year and about ten too many celebrations. It also represents the end of something; a closing; a time for reflection and hopefully, appreciation.
When we take a step back, we might see that the pressure at this time of the year is self-created – a projection of how we think we ‘should’ behave, rather than how we would prefer to show up in the world. Often we have an overwhelming sense of not wanting to let people down, too often at the expense of our own wellbeing.
When we take a step back, perhaps we might begin to simplify things. We might start to get a better understanding of the intention behind our actions. We may gain some clarity and realize that we don’t need to attend every single party to gain approval; or that we don’t need to buy endless amounts of lavish gifts as a way to show love; and possibly that it’s not necessary to drink endless glasses of wine at an attempt to fit in.
To become ‘present’ is to become aware of how we are feeling in-this-moment. This is what it means to become mindful. When we anchor our awareness into our bodies and relax into the moment we are currently in; we start to respond from the heart, rather than react from the mind. Moving from the heart means we take actions that are healthier, more grounded, and a closer reflection of who we really are. The more present we can be; the more self-aware we become.
The human brain is remarkable, both a blessing and a curse. There are parts of us that are in constant conflict – heightened when we are overwhelmed or stressed. Our incredible cognitive capacity has allowed us to invent the wheel, build the pyramids and land on the moon, but we are still at the mercy of another part of us - our animal brain. When we are not ‘present’ this is the place we act from. This is a place of conditioning; of fear and habit. It is the part of us that is unconscious. When we are present, we start to wake up. We will rise to the occasion, open and calm, compassionate, and in-tune with the natural momentum of life. There is less internal battle and far more ease.
How do we become more present? It’s simple. We commit to taking a couple of moments a day of stillness; of quiet, reflective time. Ideally in the morning before the momentum of the day begins, and in the late afternoon before the madness of the evening ensues. We use this time to notice how we are feeling in our body; we tune in to see what we need and the appropriate course of action without the expense of too much decision energy.
If we do this consistently, our actions will be more authentic; our words will have weight and when we act, it will mean more. A thoughtful card will go a long way; gifts replaced with a shared experience; we might start to offer more help to people who are in need of support.
Take this time, not to do more but to be more and watch how life unfolds in a beautiful, seamless sequence.