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Mindfulness in the Midst of the Holidays

December 26, 2018

By Linda Smith, PA, MS

The holidays are sometimes a challenging time comprised of both happiness and sadness and frequently, a time of increased stress.  As we think about both the gifts and the losses in our lives, we can be left feeling emotionally drained and, at times, as though we’re just waiting for the holidays to be over.

So, what can we do to respect the place we find ourselves in and to also nurture our own hearts and spirits?  Mindfulness, or the practice of opening ourselves to life just as it is without judgement or self-criticism, can make a difference.  In the practice of mindfulness, we can take a little time for ourselves, perhaps just 10-15 minutes each day to make room for all of the thoughts and feelings that arise.

Sitting in a comfortable, private place, we may begin by gently closing our eyes and deepening our breathing.  With every exhale, we can soften the muscles of the face, neck and shoulders.  As the muscles soften, we may let the breath move as it does naturally in and out, observing the rise and fall of the chest and abdomen.  As thoughts and feelings arise, we can notice them gently, and return our attention to the breath as it moves in and out of the body.

We may choose to relax into this practice for 5-10 minutes and then to open our eyes and journal for a few minutes or say a prayer or put on music that we enjoy, or reach out to connect to a family member or friend.  In this way, we let our own hearts and spirits be heard, nurtured and supported as we recognize and respect both the gifts and the challenges of the holidays.

May your own heart and spirit be safe, peaceful and loved.

Interested in learning more about mindfulness?

Join for one of our upcoming Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction courses. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a method of using meditation and yoga to cultivate awareness and reduce stress. It is based on the ancient practice of mindfulness, which is about waking up, being fully alive, and being present for the richness of each moment of our lives. Within this awakening, we gain access to our deepest inner resources for living, healing, and coping with stress. Duke Integrative Medicine offers both a distance learning and an in-person course


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