Holidays can be wonderful in so many ways: time with family and friends, time off of work, time to relax and celebrate with loved ones. But holidays can be stressful, too. Whether it’s money worries, holiday traffic, or that family member that always pushes your buttons this time of year, being calm and open enough to receive all the joy that’s possible may seem like a pipe dream. If you’d like a fresh chance at enjoying stress-free holidays, try incorporating mindfulness this year.
There are many acronyms to help us remember to be mindful. Here are a few to get you started.
*Created by Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction)
By taking a moment to stop, breathe, and notice whatever is happening — including your own thoughts, emotions, and sensations — you can reconnect with your experiences and then proceed with the choice to take a more skillful action.
**Created by Michele McDonald
R = Recognize when a strong emotion is present.
A = Allow or acknowledge that it is there.
I = Investigate the body, emotions, and thoughts.
N = Non-identify with whatever is there.
Non-identify means not running away with the storyline. More recently, Tara Brach has referred to the N in RAIN as Nourishing, which comes from nourishing the Self when recognizing what is there. Tara Brach has a terrific website where you can listen to her take you through a R.A.I.N. exercise and have her lead you through many beautiful, guided meditations. I recommend her version of tonglen; it’s gorgeous.
***Created by Chris Germer
C = Compassionately respond.
E = Expect skillful action.
Face your challenges. Feel the pain; don’t resist. So many teachers have said, “What we can feel, we can heal. What we resist persists.” Accept that emotion is what is happening and label the emotion. Compassionately respond by giving yourself loving kindness because you are suffering. Expect skillful action because you have all tools available to you when you are mindful and compassionate. Soften, soothe, and allow — then see whether and how the feeling changes. With mindfulness as your priority, you can create your most peaceful holiday season yet.