I love watching How The Grinch Stole Christmas each year especially when the Grinch’s small heart grows three sizes and he finds the strength of “ten Grinches, plus two.”
I think the Grinch was on to something.
I think the holidays are about being present with each other & not just giving presents.
It’s about telling people how you feel.
And forgiving each other.
And caring for ourselves and others.
It’s about giving back and helping those in need.
It’s about watching children embrace the magic of it all.
And it’s also knowing and accepting over time, that the laundry that needs washing today will still be there tomorrow.
But this moment right now, whether you're noticing the tree gently moving in the wind, or an angry look on your child’s face, will never happen again.
It’s knowing that the present moment is all that we have and what really matters.
The challenge of course, for many of us, is stress comes knocking on our door a little more frequently at Christmas.
Like money stress. In addition to paying the normal bills this month, we have to pay for all those extra groceries and gifts and it can become a bigger burden for some at this time of year.
Or Christmas stress with family. We love our families, but sometimes just in small doses. Often we miss those no longer with us and think about them more at this time of year. And many of us have family further away who can’t be with us, so we miss them too.
Then there’s time stress. It’s hard enough at any time of the year finding the time to do everything we need to do in our day - let alone at Christmas time - where we’ve got the added pressure of finding extra time to buy gifts, decorate the house, bake cookies, prepare the turkey and still juggle all our other normal responsibilities. And let’s not forget that last-minute Christmas shopping stress.
And dang that guilt.
"I want to eat all those cookies and chocolates and have extra helpings of turkey and drink as much wine as I like. And while we’re at it, I can’t find the elf on the shelf again this year, because I've hidden him so well and when I finally find him (just in the nick of time) I forget to move him at least a few times and have to come up with strange elf stories the next day for the kids."
So what changed the Grinch’s heart?
I think the answer is gratitude.
Just at the very moment he was about to push the sleigh over the mountain, the Whos began singing in their village, even though they had no gifts to open, even though they had no food to eat and no trees to light or gifts to put under it.
The simple act of feeling gratitude to be alive, to be healthy, to have a roof over their head, to be safe, to have friends and be together.
Such a simple thing and yet so hard to grasp, sometimes.
So here’s my gift for you.
I'm giving you 7 small steps to help you make every moment count this holiday season.
These simple mindful practices give you:
- An on-the-go meditation to beat stressful Christmas shopping.
- A simple trick to make wrapping presents more enjoyable.
- A fun practice to try during holiday drinking (warning: you may get more enjoyment from fewer drinks).
- An essential attitude to use during awkward moments at holiday gatherings :)
And who knows?
Maybe we’ll even grow a heart three sizes bigger this Christmas.
When you’re heading off to a Christmas event or gathering, take a moment to bring your full focus into the sensation of your breathing. Notice one complete breath from the beginning of the in-breath, all the way to the end of the out-breath and the slight pause at the end.
2. Engage your senses.
There’s nothing like drinking a great bottle of wine. Take it to the next level by engaging all your senses as you drink it. Notice the bottle itself, the label, where did it come from? How did it come to be in your home? Notice the weight of the bottle as you pour some wine into your glass. Look at the liquid in your glass, what colour is it? Is it still or rippling? As you’re about to drink it, breathe in deeply through your nose and notice the smell (if you’re a wine buff, you already do). Slowly raise the glass to your mouth, notice the sensation of the glass on your lips. As you sip it, notice the taste, textures and feel in your mouth. Notice the sensation as you swallow. How does it feel in your body? How do you feel in that moment?
3. Bring a gentle curiosity.
It's normal to get angry, frustrated or reactive with friends, family and colleagues sometimes and especially at Christmas. Next time you find yourself in a sensitive or difficult situation, before passing any kind of judgment, try putting yourself fully in the other person's shoes, imagine deeply what it's like to be in their life, to be that other person. Bring some gentle curiosity. Breathe.
4. Take things at half speed.
When you are wrapping presents, or clearing the table after entertaining, slow things right down and move at half your normal speed. What do you notice when you do this? How do you feel?
5. Just walk.
During the Christmas shopping rush, if you find you're running around, try to direct some of your attention into the soles of your feet. Notice the sensation of your feet on the ground as you walk. The idea is to simply attend to the experience of walking and let your thoughts and worry be in the background. When you notice your attention is no longer in your feet, as kindly as possible re-direct your attention back to your feet.
6. Capture one happy moment.
When you attend holiday festivities, intentionally look out for happy moments and pleasant experiences. Your mission is to notice one good thing that happens at the event you’re attending. If possible, while it’s happening, hold it in your awareness for 10 seconds (if you can) and notice how it feels in your body. If you get swept up in the party, be sure to reflect back before going to bed on that one amazing moment or happy experience, name what it was, drop your attention in your body and notice how it feels.
7. Get sleep.
If it’s difficult to shut down at night and get a solid night’s sleep after copious amounts of food or the office party, do a quick body scan. When you’re lying down, notice gravity, feel the weight of your body, notice the sensation of your back and legs pressing into the bed. Briefly scan any physical sensations in your toes, feet, calves, thighs, stomach, chest, shoulders, neck, face, eyebrows, backs of your eyes. Then settle your attention in your breathing.
What do you find challenging at Christmas and what do you love most about Christmas? Which tips above are you going to try? You never know how your comments might inspire or support another person, so share your wisdom and words in the comments below.
Wishing everyone a merry holiday full of Grinch like moments.