Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Practicing Mindfulness with Holiday Cards
'Tis the season to send holiday greeting cards - and this is a great opportunity to practice mindfulness! Writing holiday cards can be a marathon, and can be a source of joy or annoyance, depending on how we approach it. In today's blog I'd like to talk about how we can practice mindfulness as we write holiday cards.
First, check the intention and sentiment behind the cards. Do you find yourself dreading them, or excited about sending them? If you're dreading it, then maybe it's best not to send them. There's no point in sending happy holiday greetings if it's going to make you miserable! Remember your intention, which may have to do with reconnecting with loved ones and wishing them well. Come back to this intention if you find yourself becoming bored, distracted or rushed.
Once you get started, are you feeling like a robot, or are you present in the moment as you write your cards? As I was writing mine, I noticed this was a tremendously powerful way to practice mindfulness. When I write one letter, it's pretty easy to stay mindful. When you're sitting down to write 10 or 20 cards with similar things written inside, it's easy to become a robot. Rather than becoming a Christmas card machine, though, you can use this opportunity to practice mindfulness with each card. There's no need to rush through it. Take a deep breath as you begin each card. Feel the pen connect to the paper. Notice your handwriting. Take your time. If you find yourself becoming a robot, take a deep breath and remember your intention.
Most likely you are writing things about peace, joy, health, prosperity - all positive qualities that we try to nurture through a mindfulness practice. As you write these words, try to feel the words - feel love, feel peace, feel joy. Try to imagine the people who you are sending the card to, and imagine sending these feelings to them. This is much like the meditation practice of metta, or lovingkindness, which is one of my favorite practices (You can read about metta meditation here: http://info.med.yale.edu/psych/3s/metta.html; I also recommend checking out the work of Sharon Salzberg, who wrote a book called Lovingkindness, and she has a new book coming out in the new year called Real Happiness; http://www.sharonsalzberg.com).
If you write your cards in this manner, something that otherwise could be a chore becomes very enjoyable. And such is the practice of mindfulness - when we do everything this way, everything becomes interesting, and we are better able to experience our lives with joy, peace and equanimity. We can use this practice throughout the holiday season: while wrapping presents, while cooking food, while sitting in holiday traffic, while doing last-minute gift shopping.
On that note, I wish you a wonderful holiday season filled with good food, much laughter, and precious time with loved ones. May you find peace, joy, love, happiness and health in the new year - and in this moment, right here, right now :-)