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A true Christmas gift - being really present for people (including yourself)

“The most precious gift we can give others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Are you still wondering what you can give your friend, neighbour, child, wife, husband, father, mother or other special person this Christmas? Maybe, what all these special people would like most is to have your full, mindful attention while you are with them during the Christmas holidays. Perhaps it doesn’t really matter to them whether a special meal is ready on time or whether the present you bought them is perfectly wrapped, as long as you are fully present with them, not ‘half there’, your mind caught up with thoughts about tasks still to be done, people still to be visited, and journeys yet to be made.

What would it feel like to be really present with your family and friends in this way? Psychologist Rick Hanson, PhD. describes how, as your mindful presence in the company of other people increases, you become:

“...more settled into being fully there with them, more peacefully relaxed in awareness of them and you and what’s happening, less identified with pleasant or unpleasant reactions that arise, less caught up in the past or future or sense of needing to make something happen. We can feel it immediately when someone else is mindfully present with us; similarly, others can feel it when you are that way yourself.”

Getting started

You can give the gift of mindfulness when you are with your family and friends this Christmas by bringing your full attention to the conversations you have with them. Notice what your mind is doing while you are listening. Are you:

  • Preparing a reply before the other person has finished what they were saying?

  • Getting caught up making judgements about what’s being said?

  • Being ‘carried away’ from the conversation, because you’re being reminded about things that have happened in the past?

Whenever you notice your mind wandering in any of these ways, gently bring your attention back to the people you are with and to what they are saying. Be patient with yourself, though, when your mind wanders – it’s part of the nature of our minds to wander. Simply keep bringing your mind back to the present moment with kindness and compassion for yourself; you’ll gradually find yourself spending more time in the present and less time worrying about the future or going over stories of the past.

A gift for yourself – and, yes, you do deserve it!

Mindful presence can also be a kind and compassionate gift to yourself – helping you to:

  • Stay calm in the whirlwind rush of preparations for Christmas, and beyond, and

  • Experience the present moment with your family and friends instead of worrying about what still ‘needs’ organising or dwelling on memories of the past.

Practising mindfulness can help increase your sense of wellbeing, improve your memory, reduce stress and anxiety and strengthen your immune system. You deserve all these things and more.

Wishing you a mindful, compassionate and peaceful Christmas!

Jill Kerr says...

Find out about one-to-one mindfulness coaching at Therap-Ease here – or you can email Gillian on gillian@momentisnow.co.uk or pick up a leaflet from the Therap-Ease reception desk.

December offer

During December, buy three one-to-one mindfulness coaching sessions in advance for £100 (normally £125); you can spread your three sessions out to suit your diary! This offer also applies to ‘The Moment is Now’ gift vouchers, available:

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