"With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment."
Thich Nhat Hanh
Ask any mindfulness teacher or student of Eastern philosophy about time, and they’ll tell you the moment of power is now.
The past is unchangeable and the future is outside our control, making now the only moment that we can truly influence.
Spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle, who wrote a book called ‘The Power of Now’ puts it this way. “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life,” he wrote.
The thinking holds true at all times, but is particularly meaningful for us now, as we stand between two important holidays — Thanksgiving and Christmas — in what has been an unusually stressful and unpredictable year.
One holiday is behind us and another looms ahead, but in this moment there is little we can do about either experience. All we can influence is how we feel now.
One of the best ways to bring more peace and calm to this holiday season is through the practice of mindfulness.
Several definitions of mindfulness exist as well as varying ways of making it a part of your daily routine; but at its core it is the act of being fully present in the now moment.
The Mayo Clinic defines mindfulness on its website as “a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment.”
Practicing mindfulness, the clinic says, “involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.”
It can be done as simply as spending five minutes a day, bringing your attention to your breathing to help keep you focused in the present moment without judgement.
It takes practice. Our thoughts are persistent in trying to shift our attention to something that happened to us in the past, to our to-do lists for the future, or our anxiety over some upcoming event. But done consistently, mindfulness can help reduce our stress, irritation and anxiety this winter.
There’s plenty of information available online to help you get started, including helpful apps like Calm, Headspace, and Insight Timer.
Positive Psychology has also put together a list of all the best books on mindfulness and mindfulness meditation including several how-to books for beginners here.
We cannot control the trend of the COVID-19 virus this holiday season, we can’t control the country’s political leadership transition, nor the weather, or who in our family may or may not get sick.
But we can increase our awareness of our own state of mind and more consciously choose our attitude right now. Mindfulness is one way to make that happen.