A Calm Approach to Mindfulness
Mindfulness doesn’t have to mean an hour of meditation each day or awareness of every emotion. In this section, we take a calmful approach to finding your mindfulness during the holidays.
Each year the holidays arrive and it seems that—for a few weeks, at least—all the equanimity we’ve nurtured throughout the year goes right out the window, along with our diets, our work- outs and our quiet time. But this is when we need calmfulness the most—when the kids are out of school, the guest room is full, the house is a mess, and our dreaded great-aunt (doesn’t everyone have one?) is droning on about . . . well, truthfully, we quit listening hours ago.
One of the best ways to foster calmful living during these busy months is to ensure you are get- ting enough magnesium, nature’s anti-stress mineral. Magnesium’s presence in the cells pushes calcium (the action mineral) out of the cells and begins a cascade of reactions that relax the body. Magnesium ends muscle tension and ushers in muscle relaxation. Sipping Natural Calm daily can go a long way toward bringing you calmfulness—all the joy, energy and celebration but with an underlying gentle, calm current.
Scientist and author Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed mindfulness-based stress reduction to help patients cope with stress, anxiety and pain, has spent decades combining science with mindful- ness practice. He defines mindfulness as “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.”
And while meditation is a wonderful practice for nurturing this ability to notice your own thoughts and feelings without getting caught in them, mindfulness can be applied anywhere and at any time. In fact, if it only works when we’re meditating, it won’t do us much good.
The in-the-moment practices below can help us tune in to our deeper needs and begin to revise our habitual responses, so that we don’t keep making the same mistakes and getting the same results. Give them a try this holiday season. Who knows? You may find yourself lacing up your running shoes instead of reaching for a seventh sugar cookie. You might even discover, when you slow down enough to listen, that your great-aunt tells some fascinating stories.
1. Breathe, Pause, Breathe
Have you ever noticed that when you’re happy, your body feels open, calm and relaxed? The opposite is also true: when you’re stressed, overwhelmed or in the grip of a difficult emotion, the body is tight, constricted and closed off. A few deep, even breaths can help make space inside—physically by opening our chests and oxygen- ating our blood, and emotionally by helping us see the gap between us and what we’re feeling and thinking. If you take some deep breaths when you’re driving or waiting in line, you’ll be more likely to remember to breathe when things get tense.
2. Be a Friend to Your Feelings
If a close friend came over to talk about some life challenge, chances are you’d do your best to listen intently and offer your unconditional support. Yet how often do we extend this same kindness to ourselves? When a challeng- ing situation occurs, see if you can bring that same loving, nonjudgmental acceptance to your own emotions. You might find that when you don’t fight them or keep them going with the stories you tell yourself, your feelings have space to arise, and leave, more quickly.
3. Time for Yourself Is a Gift to Everyone
So often we are spread so thin that we feel we can’t take time for ourselves. It’s especially true at the holidays, when our busy social schedules keep us on constant fast forward. But when we honor our own needs and take the time—for yoga, meditation, a trip to the gym or just a silent walk in nature—we return refreshed, more resilient and more present to the needs of others. When we can be fully present with whatever is happening in our lives, we become like the eye of the hurricane—a calmful center regardless of what’s whirling around us.