Thursday, October 27, 2016

Being Mindful During the Holiday Season

Courtesy of npr.org
This is the time of year when we celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve.  

Unfortunately, happy times comes with the burden of additional tasks and responsibilities like carrying  heavy rocks on our backs with every step we take.

My last post introduced “Mindfulness” and the word “normal” and how both applied to our demanding world that right now adds more rocks to our backs with each passing day. 

Question is, what are we doing to prevent it?

With all the political talking points, teeth grinding, Doomsday Sayers, and chest thumping, we find ourselves worse to wear during these trying times and dealing with the added variables, variations and complexities.  

Time to take a breath and refocus.

Some say we have no time.


There's a saying.  Those who have time should meditate 20 minutes a day.  Those who don't should meditate for an hour.

We're already on overdrive having to pick up the kids, make dinner, shop for groceries, attend after school activities, buy candy and costumes for Halloween, dressing up the house for Thanksgiving and Christmas, shopping for presents – yes, lots of stuff to do.  But what drags us down are those added rocks on our backs that shouldn't be there.

To illustrate my point,  I pound a nail on the wall, miss and hit my thumb, feel excruciating pain and scream obscenities.  The right reaction?  Oh, heck yeah (well, no cussing in front of the grandchildren.  "Papa? That's not a nice thing to say).  The point is that what’s not right is to add layers of screaming and crying and running to mama for comfort, waiting two hours in emergency, and taking a week off from work when all I needed to do was stick my thumb in a bowl of ice and call it good. Some of the heavy rocks we burden ourselves are self imposed that can be lifted from our shoulders through mindfulness.

With the busy schedule upon us, it's okay to plan our day, mark our calendars, draft up a “To Do List” and work to reach our objectives.  It's not okay is to overpopulate our heads with worry, fret over the “what ifs”, drop sugar levels, raise blood pressure, experience anxiety attacks, and lose sleep.

We have three separate "processors" in our brains: limbic or instinct; emotional or romantic; and, logical or intellectual. Without getting into detail, it means that whenever we make decisions, our head fights a three-way battle on who wins. This conflict has logic telling emotion what to do when instinct screams for water, food and air. While focusing on awareness, we can control this battle but focusing without appreciation results to an unsatisfied and unfulfilled experience like gobbling down a steak and lobster dinner in less than a minute.

The key is focus.  We need to concentrate and dedicated our undivided attention to the "now" or present moment without judgment or expectation. This will take discipline, control and patience.

So what does it take to reach this state?  Does it mean long hours taking expensive classes, taking more time off of our busy schedules?  

The good answer is that you can achieve mindfulness by simply breathing correctly (easy and simple to say...hard to do) but with commitment and desire, it can happen.

Courtesy of anzaqu.com
Benefits? In my own words, again repeating, being mindful is the process of nonjudgmental awareness of experiencing now or the present moment. By doing so, we develop a strong appreciation for life as we eliminate the noise or layers of unwanted, unnecessary, untimely, self-imposed demands, resource sucking, and energy draining physical, mental, and spiritual activities in our lives. 

By the way, it's a good idea to get a flu shot. With of the added stressors, no matter how Superman or Supergirl we think we are, our immune systems drop and virus loves weakened immune systems).

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