Mindfulness over the Holidays

As beautiful as the Holiday Season is, it also can be a time of hectic schedules, overeating and drinking at holiday parties and occasional family frustration. All situations that mindfulness can help with.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.” – Psychology Today

How do I practice Mindfulness?

There are many ways to practice mindfulness and all techniques are a form of meditation, but the goal of any technique is to achieve a state of focused relaxation. You achieve this by sinking into your body and paying close attention to thoughts and sensations – without any form of judgment. This allows the mind to completely focus on the present moment.

Basic mindfulness meditation:

Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath or mantra. Notice each part of your body starting at your heads and ending at your toes. Allow any emotion to be present while doing this without judgment. Practice a relaxed naming of emotions: “joy,” “anger,” “frustration” etc. as your mindful meditation continues. Accept the presence of the emotions without judgment and let them go.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

  • Higher brain functioning
  • Decreased stress
  • Increased immune function
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Lowered heart rate
  • Increased awareness
  • Increased attention and focus
  • Increased clarity in thinking and perception
  • Lowered anxiety levels
  • Experience of being calm and internally still
  • Experience of feeling connected

Gaining these benefits can be as simple as closing your eyes and being silent for ten minutes a day. This is a practice that is so easy, anyone can do it!

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The Happy Hiker Club

Every time I go adventuring in the forest, I am surprised at how quickly my problems and worries seem to disappear. I also notice that when I think of my life in the city, it seems less like my real life than trekking through the forest does.

“How can I get out of the city and into my happy place on a more regular basis?” I pondered this as I stood, packed like a stressed out sardine, on the bus home from the office last week.

“Start a hiking group” my inner voice whispered. It hits all of the important prerequisites for happiness: friendship, camaraderie and time spent in nature. Hiking is also a great way to stay fit. I couldn’t think of a downside to this.

That evening The Happy Hiker Club was born. Every hike we do will be chronicled in the blog this summer. Tips, highlights, things to watch out for and any inspiration nature gives me will be shared here.

wild flowers