Monday, November 30, 2015

The Five Gifts of Christmas: Gift One - The Gift of Mindfullness

For the next five weeks, I am going to share five gifts with you. You don't have to wait for Christmas to open them up. They are gifts that I hope will be useful to you each and every day of your life. Feel free to re-gift them to others!

The first gift is the Gift of Mindfulness. During the holiday season, mindfulness is probably the last thing on anybody's mind. We are so busy trying to get everything done, get all the presents bought and wrapped, plan, shop and cook the holiday meals, bake the cookies, go to yet another Christmas party somewhere ... STOP! There came a time not too long ago when, after surviving just such a stressful holiday season, I took a step back and really looked at what I had accomplished. Had the gifts really been picked out with love and thoughtfulness for the person receiving it, or was it just another item checked off the list? Did I enjoy making the food and baking the cookies, or were they just chores to be gotten done? Was there even one tiny piece of the holidays that I actually got to enjoy, or did I sigh with relief on December 26th, happy to know I survived yet another season?

After giving it a great deal of thought, I realized that when I was gardening, I got a lot more done when I was mindful of what I was doing, giving each thing my full attention and allowing myself to enjoy each minute. From the first moment I stepped outdoors and looked up at the sky, or took a deep breath of the spring air, or stopped to listen to the morning birdsong, each and every thing I did after that received my undivided, individual attention. Then things not only seemed to flow effortlessly, but I got as much out of it as my garden did. So I decided to bring that same kind of mindfulness to the holiday season. When I shopped for a gift, I stopped and put my full attention on that person. What were they like? What did I most appreciate about them? What could I make or purchase that would carry the message: "I love having you in my life?" It didn't have to be anything huge or expensive. One of the most loving gifts I ever gave my sister was to re-create all of the things in her very own Christmas stocking exactly as our mother had done for us years ago when we were kids, compete with a Christmas coloring book, crayons, and an orange in the toe of the stocking. The cost was minimal. The expression on her face was priceless. 

Mindfulness is the ability to be conscious or aware of something fully. What would it feel like to be fully in the moment when you're baking cookies, or wrapping gifts? What if a few beautiful, heart-felt decorations brought the beauty and love of the season more fully into your awareness than trying to out-do the neighbors light display? What if taking a few moments on a crisp winter night to go outside and look for the North Star became the focal point of even one evening instead of cruising online shopping sites? 

This season I give you the Gift of Mindfulness to help you to be fully conscious and aware of the beauty and love this time of year brings. Here's hoping you have the willingness to stop the madness and, instead, accept it all from that place of unconditional love from whence it comes. 

And so it is.