“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence.
When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers. “
— Thich Nhat Hahn
This holiday season is a great reminder of what truly makes memories that will last a lifetime. It isn’t the number of gifts we receive but rather the time we spend with our loved ones. In short, it’s the act of being present.
A person struggling with ADHD or other executive functions may need direction this time of year on how to become connected to the true gifts of the holiday season of love joy and compassion. The term “mindfulness” is the energy that helps us recognize the conditions of happiness that are already present in our lives.
As Thich Nhat Hahn, the renowned Vietnamese Buddhist teacher would remind the world to do — Be present, be in the moment and Enjoy life.
Here is a list of some ways you can help create a peaceful holiday: being mindful can bring you joy in every moment.
- Be connected to your breath. Conduct a simple breathing exercise of inhaling and saying to yourself, “I am here” Then, breath out and feel the air leave your body for a few seconds. This can bring you back into the moment and leave you feeling connected with yourself, again.
- Pick a healthy way to take care of yourself. Take a walk. Walking mindfully and slowly while paying attention to the sensations on the bottom of your feet offer other personal experiences. Notice how the body moves as you walk with awareness. Take one step at a time.
- Prioritize your time. Start each day with a few minutes of quiet time. Reflect on the day ahead to help you prioritize your tasks and stay in tune with your emotional state. Recognize important things that need to be done. Identify any stressors and decide how you plan to address them. This process can help you follow through successfully each day.
- Actively listen to one another. As students get excited for the holidays and receive an academic break from school, it can be a stressful time in the household. Elementary students are exploding with boundless energy while anticipating once-per-year events. High school and college students are studying frantically for their final exams. Parents are preoccupied with navigating their holiday to-do lists. The combination of a feeling overwhelmed, being excited with the seasonal events and the reality of academic stress can severely affect family relationships.
Now is the time to encourage one another to identify the feeling. What emotion are you experiencing? Are you sad, stressed, angry, anxious, joyful, disappointed, excited or embarrassed? Accept the authenticity of your feelings and express the emotions verbally.
By expressing your feelings in a rational way, it is the only way to release the emotion. Conversely, by being the active listener, you can demonstrate that you are present and validate the needs of others.
When you practice mindfulness, you are in a state of concentration. Because you are aware, and can sustain that awareness, it is said that you are concentrated. By being fully concentrated, you have an opportunity to make a breakthrough – and to achieve insight.
This practice of cultivating stillness in your life, loving speech and deep listening will bring joy and happiness to others and yourself. This holiday, achieve the true gift of happiness and joy by being in the moment and being present for others. It may be the most joyous season yet when all feel that their needs are being heard and therefore met.
Michelle R. Raz, M.A. Ed. CSS, is a professional Edge Foundation executive function coach and educational consultant in Steamboat Springs and works nationally. She is a member of CHADD and ACO. Learn more on her website at www.coachingacademics.com.