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Wrap yourself gently with mindfulness for Christmas


When we’re invited to be really honest about it, the Christmas holidays can present as uncomfortably problematic for many of us.

Whatever your own experience happens to be, I wonder if you’ll be unwittingly doing something that intensifies any discomfort or triggering you might be feeling.

Mindfulness has helped me to be more aware of how I do this too, and when I shine a light on that, it’s a bit easier to walk through this time of year with a little less reactivity.

The first thing we can do is notice the things we find hard:

Whether its Spending time with people we feel we have to out of a sense of duty, Spending more than we know we can really afford, drinking too much or eating too much to mask feelings of grief or discomfort of difficult relationships, the uncomfortable reality of commercialised xmas, Loss of loved ones or the loss of what we can't seem to recreate, the list is pretty endless and it'll be personal to you. This is about being aware of our own primary sense of suffering.

What often tends to happen (the thing we unwittingly do) is that we layer this pain with more thoughts and internal judgements. For example, we might feel uncomfortable about spending more than we can afford. We then feel guilty, we believe we should have worked harder so we could have more, then we get angry at why we all get sucked into this, so there's resentment. We fall into 'comparing mind' and compare ourselves to others and the layering of emotion and thought increases.

The additional thoughts we experience as a result of the primary source of suffering is called 'secondary suffering' and there's a sense in which we can say that this part is 'optional'.

If we can be more aware of how we react to whatever discomfort we initially feel, we can make choices NOT to engage with anything further.

Instead we can bring a tender caring attention to the primary suffering and offer ourselves some understanding. We can be more open to the fact we aren't alone feeling this. This is very common. Remembering we are not alone experiencing this feeling, openly acknowledging this can soften the mind and reduce the intensity.

We then offer ourselves kindness and even ask the question, "What do you need right now?" or "How can I help you?" addressing ourselves as a friend in this moment.

Pain and upset are part of life. We create more discomfort for ourselves when we cling to a belief that Christmas SHOULD be a particular way, 'Like Mum used to do it' or how so and so does it. It is what it is for each of us and I don't believe its about how well we keep our heads above the water during this time. I believe its all about how kindly we walk with ourselves through any shadows we face at this time of year.

Wrap yourself kindly this Christmas and treat your feelings and emotions by holding them, AND yourself rather than trying to beat them or get the better of them.

Feelings are here to be 'felt', they aren't problems to be solved.

You can hold this.

Thinking of you,

Fiona


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