As the weather gets cooler, my mind tends to race ahead to all the obligatory holiday expectations that are just around the corner.  Then I tell myself, “I am committed to a mindfulness meditation practice.  Don’t go there, stay here to reduce stress!”  That is all well and good, but sometimes I need a swift kick in the pants to remind myself!  Browsing through all the notes I have taken over ten years of “consultation” with my guru, here are some phrases that help me let go of expectations, relax and enjoy what is happening NOW!

  1. “Charity begins at home. Practice focus with dedication and devotion to self.” (This is my #1 life-saving mantra.  When I take care of me, I have more patience and energy for others.)
  2. “The longer you breathe, the longer you live.” (This one always gives me a good chuckle and is simple, but true.  When stressed, breathe deeply!)
  3. “Be mindful when looking for appreciation.” (Oh, right, that expectation thing!  Cook the turkey to cook the turkey, not because I am seeking praise and the title “Top Chef.”)
  4. Be attached to the effort, not the outcome.” (Get that turkey ready to the best of my ability and then….fuhgeddaboudit!!!)
  5. Work today for tomorrow, but don’t be IN tomorrow.” (Another version of #4. Trust me, I need as many versions of this one as I can get.)
  6. Sit outside of the pool.” (Caught in the holiday rush at the mall?  Houseguests and/or relatives bickering?  Observe the craziness instead of engaging in it or, at the very least and without judgment, observe myself participating!)
  7. “Self-restraint is a strength.” (When the family get-together becomes a bit tense, I don’t have to fix everything for everyone like I used to.  This is called “freedom”!)
  8. “Just see what happens.” (Simply by practicing awareness, things have a funny way of working out without my attempts to manipulate a solution.  That means less stress for me!)

So, go ahead, grab a phrase or two!  Tape ’em to your bathroom mirror, stick ’em on your steering wheel, place ’em in your meditation space or just memorize them and enjoy the awareness that a few “kick in the pants” holiday stress-busters might provide. ‘Tis always the season for a mindfulness meditation practice!

 –Kathy Babula