Presence vs. Presents: Three Steps to Stay Grounded this Holiday Season
Have you ever listened to a spiritual teacher speak openly about his or her learnings? Eckhart Tolle, one of the most profound spiritual leaders of our time, now answers questions openly on YouTube and you can listen to his learnings at all hours of the day or night.
The reason I bring this up, is because we are once again entering into the holiday season. Each year the TV advertisements and store fronts shift - Black Friday decals go up, 30% off coupons are distributed, and BOGO deals start flashing amongst the already bustling shopping malls.
The overwhelm is real.
When you start shopping for Christmas, or whichever holiday you celebrate, do you ever take note about your mental state? Are you stressed, anxious, or frantic at all? Do you think about what purpose presents provide when they are tossed, lost, or forgotten only a few months, if not weeks, later? You purchase wrapping paper, cards, and ornaments that will soon be boxed up for 11 months, or maybe you will get new ones next year, and this year’s version will never see the light of day again. There is something seriously going on with societal norms, and the grasp of materialism.
Back to my man Eckhart, in order to combat this inauthentic nature, he recommends presence over presents. So what is presence exactly? Well… it is grounded in mindfulness, which is a term you may have heard tossed around in yoga class, or at a meditative retreat. Rick Hansen, Ph.D. argues that, “Mindfulness is simply a clear, non-judgmental awareness of your inner and outer worlds. In particular, it’s an awareness of the flow of experience in your inner world.”
How then, do you stay present this holiday season? SLOW DOWN. In fact, I prescribe not only slowing down, but perhaps stopping all together. Take a moment, and listen to your thoughts and feelings, here’s how:
Set aside time each day to notice your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Notice your inner world.
Spend some time here. I do not care if it is five minutes or 50 minutes, just stay grounded in the present moment a little bit longer.
Ask yourself a simple question, “What is really important here?” As you come out of mindful presence you may be surprised by the clarity left in its wake.
As you continue on with your day, your week, or your month, these three steps can act as a mental reprieve. Take the hustle and bustle, and put it on pause, instead of on autopilot. The benefits? I never thought you would ask! Not only will you decrease your stress levels despite the in-laws coming to town, but you will begin to master your inner world. This includes increased patience, resiliency, self-acceptance, and improved general health. Mindful presence has even been found to decrease depressive symptoms, as well as increase self-compassion.
So, the next time you head to the mall to get that last-minute stocking stuffer, do remember this quote…
“Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.” - Eckhart Tolle