‘Perfect! I just want Christmas to be perfect!’ Have you noticed how that word ‘perfect’ is now so widely used and stands in for ‘that’s fine,’ or ‘yes, I have your order,’ or ‘that’s correct,’ or even ‘thank you?’ I don’t think this is an accident – we are living in a time where there are pressures on us for everything we touch and do to be ‘perfect.’ ‘The perfect Christmas’ falls into this category. How realistic is this wish? And how much pressure does it put us under? And we then put pressure on those around us to meet our expectations too, as well as on the resources of the planet to buy more, consume more, want more. What a burden!
Cultivating mindfulness, even for moments, can help us to notice our stress levels mounting when we feel the pressure of the ‘Christmas rush,’ or when we hear our ‘comparing mind’ telling us that whatever we are or have is not good enough. This year things may be even more intense, given the experience of almost two years of a global pandemic.
We all get caught up, and we all need space to get disentangled. Mindfulness isn’t about shirking responsibility but it is about recognising when we may need to cut ourselves some slack, in the midst of whatever is going on around us and inside us.
Mindfulness helps us to befriend our lives just as they are. How might it be to really give ourselves permission to enter the true spirit of this time of year, allowing it to be a nourishing time for ourselves and those around us, a time for attending to body, heart and mind? Imagine how it might be if we were to really take this on board and let ourselves and our Christmas, whatever form it takes, be ‘good enough?’
What if it was ok to be a human being with a less than perfect family? What if it was ok to spend Christmas alone, if this is what we choose, and for some of us we may have no choice? What if we could really move into a position of living our actual lives more fully, more wholeheartedly, instead of constantly striving after some notion of perfection? Mindfulness can help us to bring this more compassionate attitude to ourselves and others and what a gift! The gift of Christmas presence!
Helen Byrne, M.A., Post-Grad Dip. Psych., H.Dip. Ed., is co-founder and co-director of The Mindfulness Centre (www.mindfulness.ie). She has been practicing mindfulness since 1997 and teaching Mindfulness Based Courses since 2007. Helen, Josephine and the team at The Mindfulness Centre offer the gold standard 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy courses, Mindfulness and Self-Compassion and Compassionate Living courses, Awakening Joy courses, mindfulness in the workplace, bespoke workshops, mindfulness retreats and teacher training. Join us on Monday evenings at 7.00pm for a free guided meditation. Everyone is welcome, with or without meditation experience.