Sunday, 22 December 2013

Week 52: A Mindful Christmas and The (Non)End Of A Journey.

Week 52. Seriously? Week 52 already?

I'm almost hesitant to write this post. Can I really be at the end of my 52 week challenge to live more mindfully? I have so much more to explore and learn, so much more to see.

Heading into this challenge I always knew the first 52 weeks would only be the start. After all, living mindfully isn't something you suddenly 'get' and do automatically. It's something that takes continued and continuous effort. It's something I'll be working with and on for the rest of my life.

Fifty-two weeks have set me off well, though. I have 52 challenges under my belt - plenty to return to, plenty to explore again and again.

Still time for one more challenge though, and given it's Christmas this week, I know just the thing.

In years past, I'll admit to being quite the Scrooge. I loved Christmas growing up - it was simple, full of family tradition, love and food.

Then I grew up, the magic faded, family life got complicated and Christmas became busy, expensive and stressful.

Christmas day itself became something I had to survive, not something I looked forward to.

Ugh, I dislike that sentence a lot. When did I turn into this grinch? Where did my Christmas spirit go?

I think the answer to that is this: I started to focus on the projections in my mind, rather than the unknown reality ahead of me.

With so much to do, so much money to spend, so many people to see and please, my focus landed squarely on thoughts like these: "Oh, I don't know why I bother, they never like my gifts anyway", "It's going to be so rushed, it's no fun", "I'm already exhausted and it hasn't even started ... this is going to be hard".

Instead, couldn't I have gone into it the way I like to step onto my yoga mat? Which way is that, you ask? With beginner's eyes. I like to step onto my mat as though I've never stepped onto it before: each session, each pose being experienced as though for the first time. No expectations. Could I do the same for Christmas?

I think so. At least, I'm going to try. Already this year I feel my Christmas spirit returning. I'm positive it has a lot to do with my little boy who loves the excitement he can feel building. But it's more than that - I think my year of more mindful living has a lot to do with it, too. I'm in a place now where I feel like I can drop those expectations a little, where I can settle into 'being' rather than sitting in the corner feeling sorry for myself. While I still think Christmas is expensive and busy (two things I don't love), I can also see beyond that (though surely there's a way to simplify? Maybe I can explore that next year ...).

As I head into Christmas week, I'm going to try to do it mindfully. As I plan, bake, eat, interact, give and receive, I'll do my darndest to be there in the moment, not in some story I've woven in my mind. I encourage you to do the same! Christmas, joyful as it can be, can also be a source of stress and distress for people ... Can mindfulness take the edge off that? I think so; I hope so. It's certainly worth a try.

I'll be back at the end of the week to report on week 52. In the meantime, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas x

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