It’s hard to stay present over the holidays. There’s so much to do and so many places to go. I find my mind wandering toward December 25th on a daily basis as I think of shopping and what to bake. It doesn’t make sense to think constantly of a day in the future, and yet it happens. Our human ability to look to the future is an awesome skill, but it tends to take us over. Before you know it, you’re adding things onto an already giant list; and you end up feeling anxiety. That’s no way to enjoy the holidays - or any single day for that matter.
And so, this is a the challenge I pose to myself and to you - to plan while remaining present. Like a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter, whose only job today is to gather nuts, can you stay in the moment while you’re preparing for what’s ahead?
As Thich Nhat Han says, when you brush your teeth, the most important thing is to be brushing your teeth. When you’re shopping or coming up with a menu, can that be the thing upon which you concentrate? Can the shopping be the focus? Can you notice the sounds around you, the sights of the mall or the room in which you Amazon? Can you connect with those around you? Can you do a body scan and notice the sensations inside you? That way, when it’s 2:37 on December 19th, it’s 2:37 on December 19th (did you know that was a time on December 19th?).
Living in the now will reveal to you the beauty of the moment, of what you’re doing and for whom you’re doing it. A few times, I have found presence in meditations and walks in the woods. In those moments, the world is so beautiful I could cry. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or something else or nothing at all, this challenge might be worth a shot if you want to experience the moments that make up this busy time of year.
Happy December 19th.