It feels to me as if, each year, Christmas arrives a little bit earlier than the previous year. But it’s an illusion created by retailers wanting to give me more time to maximise their profits.
Actually, how much of a festive feeling is there when what seems more like an unconscious collective shopping rush brings us up to stress level 10 (meaning 10 out of 10)?
Heedless of the wind and weather. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la… we might sing to ourselves as we brave ice cold winds to tick items off the shopping list…
The original meaning of Christmas has been completely eclipsed by greedy corporations only too eager to satisfy the feelings of emptiness or greed of humans, and to ‘make money’ in the process. Businesses are continuously thinking of clever new ways to push us to buy more. And even though many of you, who read this article, have everything you need and more, you oblige. Even if this exalted consumerism is happening at the expense of the planet that we all depend on.
So, how to spend a Mindful Christmas?
In order to take a step back and resist the Christmas shopping madness, it may help if we remind ourselves of what Christmas stands for. Although Christmas originated as a celebration of the birth of baby Jesus, we have moved away from the overtly religious.
To me, today the essence of Christmas especially touches on three key social components, which all point to mindfulness as opposed to mindless consumerism:
Family & Community
Here are some tips for experiencing a Mindful Christmas related to each of the above.
Preserve the Planet
Rather than thinking of what to buy someone, shift to being in their heart & soul space. What would be the most powerful present in terms of helping to enrich or even transform their life (such as a life-changing book) or plain useful (such as a shoe-horn if they are always struggling… you get the drift)? Rather than a present, might it be your presence?
If gifting an item, avoid wrapping it in paper. Instead consider using bags, fabrics or towels that can be reused. Also, consider staying away from plastics altogether, both in presents and in wrapping (perhaps a bamboo shoe-horn wrapped in a custom-made beautiful bag to hold it).
Truly Nurture Family & Community
Many people feel lonely these days, and if it is at all within your capacity consider scheduling time for spending with those who may be lonely – it maybe your elderly neighbour or a friend who haven’t seen in a long time – and need your presence.
Rather than donating money for a charity (which is not to say that you mustn’t donate to charities!) you may want to donate your experience and time for a cause close to your heart. This can be deemed a ‘social present’. Make an effort. Search online for a cause that is close to your heart.
Unconditionally giving of your time and full-hearted presence is heart opening, and therefore a gift also to yourself. If simply buying something is an easy way out, donating your time and possibly experience is an act of selflessness and humility.
Put Your Own Wellbeing First
First of all, make sure not to extend yourself beyond what feels good to you.
Schedule some time for yourself to be with yourself. This is not selfish. We need to care for ourselves before we care for others. To put our own oxygen mask on first, so to speak.
Try to manage to fit a 15-minute meditation into your daily routine – and it can be simply sitting with yourself – for every morning of the holidays.
This all will go a long way to ensure that you don’t fall into the trap of feeling stressed and overwhelmed during what is supposed to be a festive season.
Ensure a festive season within, first!
Don’t fall in line with the unconscious collective! Instead of overdoing it on presents – stay present. Meditate & breathe consciously. This is the best gift that you can give yourself and others.
Sing joyously, all together. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la…
So, what about that baby Jesus?
I end on a thought that could reconnect us to the spiritual origin of this tradition. I am not religious, and would like to think of the baby who ended up as a man crucified in terms that relate directly to me, now.
Christ consciousness can be described as an unconditionally loving and compassionate presence. And just as I understand that Jesus was simply an enlightened being, much as the Buddha, I understand that this is a state that can not be out of reach to me, or to you.
We all have the capacity to forgive and to love, others and ourselves. And so this very Christmas I light a candle and sit in silence with myself. Determined to release any grudges and sense of separation from the Divine, I dedicate this holiday season to the birth of my true self.
Although we typically think of ourselves as frail, mortal beings, the truth is we are souls, eternal aspects of Spirit. Through body identification we develop faulty self-awareness, the ego. By scientific meditation, our consciousness can be expanded beyond physical confinement to reunite with Spirit throughout creation. This attainment of Christ Consciousness was achieved by Jesus, Krishna, Buddha and all Enlightened Ones. In fact, it is the divine purpose of life, to reawaken fully in Spirit.
If you find yourself alone, or feel the urge to be alone, consider taking yourself out of the Christmas equation altogether. And even if wanting to be near your dear ones over Christmas, it may be possible for you to book a retreat during the run up to Christmas. Gifting this to yourself, an act of Self Love, would most definitely enable you to return with fresh energy to share with family and friends (and perhaps even with people you do not already know).
Interested to read more? Food for your Soul is a regular column featuring short articles for moments of reflection to look at life from a different perspective (should you choose to!). Invest 3 minutes and allow your thoughts to ponder. Awareness creates choice.