Most of the holiday season seems to be focused on what presents to give and receive while overlooking the gift of presence. Being present doesn’t require shopping, spending, time wrapping, time putting together, or cleaning up.
Being present is the conscious practice of focusing on whatever is going on in your immediate moment: shopping, spending, wrapping, putting together, or cleaning up.
The gift to ourselves and those around us comes as a result of a more emotionally engaged self. Our loved ones will most likely be able to sense our increased attention compared to a scattered self who is absorbed with the next thing or another thing.
I reference this skill a lot when working with individuals who have expressed difficulty in staying in the moment.
Our minds have been conditioned to be looking for the next thing or in some cases just a distraction, instead of consciously engaged in our current task. Most of us report a higher sense of enjoyment when we are fully engaged in one thing at a time. The holiday season creates an unfortunate paradox of frantically working to make the events memorable, but as a result of the incessant thinking we fail to enjoy the journey, undermining our goal of creating memorable moments.
So how do we do this?
Keep it as simple as possible. Make a list and stay focused on completing one thing at a time. If your list catches all the to do’s and “shoulds”, then sit back and enjoy the simplicity of completing one task at a time. Anxiety comes from the projecting and irrational forecasting of what will happen or what could happen. This is a horrible and highly ineffective practice.
Instead, practice connecting yourself to your moments. What do you see? What do you smell? What do you hear? What does this taste like? What does that material feel like in your hands? These are simple ways to connect the wondering mind to your current circumstances. The goal is to keep your mind with your body. If the thought of what you need to do pops up, make sure it’s on your list and come back to your moment.
You and those around you will experience more peace and connection when you are fully engaged. This is a simple but difficult practice, but well worth the effort.