Ready for the Holiday Season

This is the third article in a series on Mindfulness written by Maureen Smith. Maureen is a Substance Use Counsellor at East Kootenay Addiction Services who has an interest in Mindfulness and finding creative ways to incorporate it into her counselling practice. To read more about Mindfulness and how it relates to Substance Use visit our page about Mindfulness in the Resources/Adult section of our website. The article below does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of East Kootenay Addiction Services.

If you are feeling uncertain about the upcoming holiday season, that is OK.  Realize that recognizing you are feeling indicates you are self-aware.  That is fantastic!  Here are some ideas to help you navigate through the next month whether you are up-to-your-eyeballs-busy or feel you have way too much time on your hands.  You don’t have to be a Grinch, a Santa or a saint. Just begin to be more self-aware of what is happening as it is happening.  Starting today, why not spend at least part of this season being with yourself in ways that renew and strengthen your health.  So many of the problems we experience arise because we are ‘somewhere else’ in our mind, rather than in the moment.  Give yourself and your loved ones the gift of presence.
 Use the count down to the end of the year as a way to honour and celebrate what you have.  Notice your thoughts right now as you read these words.  Do you tend to think of the negative or the positive?  Congratulations!  You just gave yourself the gift of being more self-aware.  There are many ways to celebrate what you have.  Use my ideas or come up with some of your own.  There are many suggestions on how to be more in the moment day to day.  You might find ideas on-line or in the library. They don’t have to cost money.  Instead of shopping why not try investing in your relationships by spending time and focused energy?   You might choose to write in a gratitude journal.  Or what if you chose to eat one of those famous Christmas oranges slowly and mindfully?  
 Set a timer and give yourself 10 – 20 minutes.  You will have to slow right down. Start by looking at the orange (you can use any piece of food), even before you pick it up.  Then hold it and feel its bumps or smoothness, its coolness or warmth.  Look at how the light and shadow play across its surface.  Really look at it.   Marvel at it being here in your hand. Imagine the factors and people that contributed to this marvelous fruit and you coming together.  So many circumstances supported this event: the fertile soil on planet earth, sunlight from 150 million kilometers away, rain from the atmosphere, someone planted a tree and cared for it through the years.  First cultivated in China in 2500 BC, we are benefitting from centuries of human labour and knowledge. Eating them creates energy and life in our bodies through the amazing processes of ingestion, digestion and elimination.  You may have eaten other oranges, but never this one.  This one sitting in your hand right now is unique unto itself.  There are millions of oranges in the world very similar to this one.  You, in this moment with this particular fruit on this day, in this year are completely distinct.  It is a unique and precious circumstance.    
 I invite you to relish in all it means to be alive!  Embrace the gift of stopping what you are doing and giving yourself some space from everything else.   For a few minutes every day completely BE with the process of appreciating, examining, smelling, feeling, listening and tasting.
 A million miracles are held within the fruit, within you and within the process that brought you together.  Ahhhhh.  Slowing down and appreciating the wondrous nature of life helps us to live in joy and gratitude.