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  • Writer's pictureElfreda Manahan-Vaughan

Two Short Mindfulness Practices to Get You Through the Festive Season

Whether you love it or hate it the Christmas holiday period can have stressors. It may be the build-up, as you try to get everything ready or it may be on the day when you juggle family with present opening and the big feast. This week, as my classes ended for this year, and this term, I taught two short practices to help students if the pressure cooker of stress starts build. I’ve decided to share them with you here too. They take less than five minutes. One is done with eyes closed and the other you can do either with eyes open or closed.

3 Minute Present Moment Awareness.

Sit up straight with your eyes closed. Notice your feet, lower legs, knees and upper legs. Then, notice your pelvis and the feeling of your body on the chair. Notice your stomach and chest and feel the breath entering and leaving your body. Notice your lower back and upper back and then your shoulders. Notice your fingers and thumbs, hands, wrists, upper arms and lower arms. Then notice your neck, back of your head top of your head and face. (This should only take one minute).

Next notice any sounds you can hear, keep listening and if your mind wanders come back to the sounds. Listen for loud ones and quiet ones. Try not to think about what they are, just notice that you can hear things. After a minute move on to the next stage.

Lastly, for one minute, notice your thoughts. Are they thoughts from the past or future, are you worrying, talking to yourself or going over something in your mind? Just notice what is there, without trying to change anything or judge yourself for your thinking. After the minute is over just notice your breath and then open your eyes.

The Power of Three

With your eyes open or closed, notice three different sensations in your body. They may be just in different parts of your body, or you can see if you can find three different specific sensations.

Now see if you can notice three different sounds. Start with louder ones and then move on to quieter ones.

Finally, notice three different types of thoughts you’ve been having. They may be repetitive or recurring. They may have been momentary; pleasure, pain, happiness or discomfort. See if you can find three then, move your attention outwards to what you can see. If you wish you can then look for three things of a specific colour, such as three blue things. Then you can look for three things with numbers. If you are in a public place you can look for three people with hats, bags and so on. As soon as you feel your focus has moved from whatever has been stressing you, you can stop.

You can do either of these exercises at any time, to pull you away from any stressful thinking you may be experiencing. We can’t stop ourselves thinking but we can change our focus.

Wishing you have a very happy Christmas, if you celebrate.

I hope our paths cross gain in future,


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