Heads Up

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“You cannot stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Santa surfingLiving mindfully in the month of December may seem like an impossible task. But considering the rogue waves that tend to roll in at this time of year (mother-in-law visit?), it might just be the best time to give mindfulness a try, or to be sure to continue your practice.

The history of mindfulness goes back thousands of years and has roots in many religions. Mindfulness is defined as “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment with acceptance and without judgment.”

Beyond simply reducing stress, the reported benefits of mindfulness are extensive, including rewiring our brain from chaotic to calm, giving us a mental boost of energy, better heart health, and improving our relationships. These benefits are available for people of any age.

We know we run the risk of holiday stress and that our children are vulnerable to similar triggers. Taking a few moments to be quiet and focus on our breath can help.

In this Greater Good Science Centre study, the research shows that “to bring mindful attention and awareness into your interactions with your child really seems to set the stage for you to be a good parent.” It suggests that “it’s about noticing your own feelings when you’re in conflict with your child, learning to pause before responding in anger, and listening carefully to a child’s viewpoint even when disagreeing with it.”

Below are ways to bring more mindfulness into your life. Choose the links based on which of Santa’s “mindful reindeers” you most identify with, and start surfing.

On …

Rookie: coffee, brushing teeth and other everyday activities, and straight up how to meditate

and Dabbler: Body scan, raisin meditation (I prefer chocolate)

Skeptic: Dan Harris and five convincing reasons

and Hectic: six quick activities you can do anywhere

Blissful: Becoming Conscious, the science of mindfulness; Bliss and your brain

Burnt-out: long breath out

Creator: Mindful with kids, Mindfulness for children

and Comic: How to be mindful while reading the Atlantic

Remember: Your breath is always with you.

Paying attention to your breath is really the most accessible way to think about and practice mindfulness. Sometimes I like to think of it as giving myself a timeout.

Try: Inhale (and think “let”), exhale (“go”) or try any of these mantras.

Please:“Be kind and gentle to yourself” (Meena Srinivasan)

Thank you.
Laurie Fraser, Character Program Director