Lights, snow, food, and fun are all indicative of the festive holiday season; but, for some of us they are joined by stress, anxiety, and frenzy. How can we keep our cool and share in the joy of the holidays? A key step is recognizing what concerns us, and then identifying whether it can be changed or simply let go. Then, we have room to focus on what truly matters.
Using the following guided meditation, I encourage you to take a well-earned rest from hurried holiday preparations and set your intentions on a holiday filled with all that warms your heart.
Let's take a moment to reflect on our feelings surrounding the holidays and the efforts we exert to prepare.
Close your eyes. Imagine you are entering a warm relaxing room. It can be wherever you’d like, a relative’s home, a favorite vacation spot, or something completely from your own imagination. As you look ahead, you see a lovely, comfortable chair next to a fireplace with a beautiful roaring fire. A small table is placed to the immediate left of the chair. Walk to the chair and sit down. Feel the smooth fabric and the soft give of the cushion beneath you. Perhaps there is a blanket nearby. If you would like to cuddle up with it, go ahead. Just take in the relaxing atmosphere for a moment.
Now, turn your attention to the small table to your left. On it you see a pen and pad of paper, and a bowl with small objects that hold some importance to you. They could be smooth stones that you found on a family weekend at the beach, a symbol of your faith, a family photo… (I encourage you to have these objects truly on hand as you practice this guided meditation.)
For now, focus on the pen and paper. Pick them up. Think of all the things that you find challenging about the holidays. Do they serve others? Do they serve you? Are they necessary? If the answer is no, write them down on the pad of paper. Take as much time as you need. Make a list if you’d like.
When you’ve finished writing, give yourself permission to release everything that is on the piece(s) of paper. Now, fold it up and toss it in the fireplace. Watch the paper and each item on it disappear in the flames, float up through the chimney into the cold winter breeze, and fly far away into the night. Take a deep breath and let it go.
When you’re ready, pick up one of the objects in the bowl on the table. As you look at it and feel its weight in your hands, remember something that you love about the holiday season. Is it watching the joy on your children’s faces? The crisp pine-scented air? A favourite meal? Sit with it for a moment. Notice how it makes you feel. Breathe deeply and slowly. What messages are your senses sending you? Does your heart feel full? Hold on to that feeling. Bring the object in your hands close to your chest for a moment, as though you are taking in all the joy, peace, and love that your memories bring. The next time you see this object or feel it with your fingers, it will remind you of what is truly important to you.
If you wish, repeat this with each small object in your bowl.
After holding and sitting with each meaningful piece, make the conscious choice to refer to them whenever you feel you need to. Carry one or two with you. Know that it is okay and good to pause, breathe, and remember what makes the holidays so special to you.
You can choose to stay in this warm, comfortable space a bit longer. When you decide it’s time to leave, you’ll feel refreshed and look forward to the season with joy.
Happy Holidays with love!
Michelle Maisonville, CD(CBI), SBD is a certified doula and mother of two. Her primary focus is supporting families to draw upon their innate knowledge as they experience the realities of parenting in an information-filled world.