“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
— Albert Einstein
At this time of year, we have a great opportunity to consciously choose to ‘wake up’ to the festive period — otherwise with all the doing that needs to be done, we run the risk of giving ourselves an inner speeding ticket!
To support you in the run up to Christmas, here are our recommendations for some mindful activities that you can build into your day. Think of them as your mindfulness Advent Calendar — and enjoy.
1 December – Pausing and savouring the moment
Choose consciously to be present
Change your posture by sitting or standing upright, to signal you are waking up from autopilot and to embody alertness. Take three conscious breaths as a way of taking some inner time out from the momentum of your day.
Allow your experience to be just as it is, without trying to change it or wishing it to be different. Be fully awake and aware of what you are experiencing — ask yourself, what am I experiencing in my mind, emotions and body?
Let things be just as they are. Take a step back and observe how you are relating to your experience without any judgement.
Tune into your senses – sight (you might notice 5 things about the place you are in), hearing, smell, taste and touch. Use your sensory information as a way of bringing you into this present moment. Be aware of the physical sensations of standing or sitting – the weight of the body going into the ground.
Now consciously choose to take this present moment and grounded awareness into the next moments of your day.
2 December – The 10 finger gratitude exercise at the end of each day
At the end of the day, bring to mind ten things that you are grateful for, counting them on your fingers. It is important to get to ten things, even when it becomes increasingly harder after three or four!
This exercise helps you to bring into awareness the tiny, previously unnoticed elements of your day and helps you appreciate the small things in life.
3 December – Mindful activities
Think about a task you usually complete mindlessly, e.g. making lunch or a cup of tea, and choose to pay attention to your senses as you are doing this — what do you notice?
4 December – Listening
Choose consciously to listen to understand when you are in a conversation with a loved one. Let go of any distractions and pay full attention; use all of your senses — sight, touch, feelings as well as hearing. What do you notice when you pay attention in this way?
5 December – Mindful awareness
Pause and look around the place you are in as you are reading this (even if you have been there every day) and notice 5 things about the space you are in (what are you seeing, hearing, smelling and feeling?)
6 December – Adopting a mindset of wonder
Choose to watch the sunset or the sunrise or look at the night’s sky one day this week: enjoy the colours and the moment of the beginning or the ending of the day. Bring a mindset of a wonder and notice what you notice.
7 December – Reminding yourself to pause
Set a reminder on your phone to buzz once an hour. When it does, take a conscious breath and wake up to whatever you are doing and experiencing.
8 December – Enjoying nature
Choose a natural object and approach looking at it with a beginner’s mind. As though you have never seen it before, drink in what you are seeing through your eyes – what do you notice by paying attention in this way?
9 December – Taking a breath
During the day today simply pause and take a breath – notice the air flowing in and out, notice the quality of the breath and how you experience this physically in the body.
10 December – Brushing your teeth
Notice where your mind is today when you are brushing your teeth. What happens when you pay attention to the physical sensations, taste, smell of this activity?
11 December – Queuing mindfully
If find yourself waiting in a queue (something which is more than likely at this time of year!), pause and take a breath consciously; notice how you are and how you are relating to your experience.
12 December – Showering
When you shower or take a bath today, sense the water on your body, the temperature, the pressure…what do you notice?
13 December – Preparing food
Any food preparation over the Christmas period is a great opportunity for mindfulness. Stop multi-tasking and pay attention to the act of preparing the food for your meal, pay attention to your senses. What do you notice?
14 December – Eating
Try having a meal in silence, really focusing on the food and the sensations of eating. This involves attending only to eating (no TV, radio, book etc.!) and the movements and flavours involved in eating. What do you notice?
15 December – Washing up
This is an opportunity to pay attention to seeing, moving and feeling all the sensations associated with washing up – even if you are simply unloading the dishwasher. Stop multitasking and pay attention simply to what you are experiencing.
16 December – Driving
Try just driving, without daydreaming, music or other distractions. Paying attention to the actions involved in driving, the focus of your seeing, the sensations in your feet, hands and back.
17 December – Walking
Pay attention to the sensations of walking, using the bottom of your feet as anchors for attention. Choose to focus on this alone. Every time you notice your mind wandering, simply let go of the thinking and come back to the physicality of each step. Perhaps stop from time to time and look up and around before walking on.
18 December – Answering the phone
When the phone rings, stopping before answering, take a conscious breath, then tune in to your thoughts, feelings and body, breathing with these before answering. During the call itself, tune into your feet on the floor and pause before speaking.
19 December – Emailing
As with answering the phone, before responding to your messages, take a breath, tune in to any thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations, breathing with these until your mind is more settled.
20 December – Traffic lights
On the road or as a pedestrian, red lights provide you with an opportunity to sit or stand quietly, peacefully and be aware of your breath.
21 December – Reaching for keys
As you reach for your keys to the car or our house, tune into how you are before moving onto the next moments of your day.
22 December – Making a drink
As you are waiting for the kettle to boil, tune into your feet being on the floor and your experience. Use your senses and really tune into this moment.
23 December – Opening doors
As you reach for the handle of a door, tune into your sense of turning this and our bodies as we move over the threshold and transition into the next phase of our day.
24 December – Showing a random act of kindness
One of the most powerful ways to develop greater kindness and compassion is to practise conscious acts of kindness. Try and perform at least one ‘Random Act of Kindness’ each day, and to notice how this feels; any effects in body and mind.
25 December – Mindful gratitude
As it is close to the end of the year, think of someone that has helped you and had a positive impact upon your life. Now pause and think why you are a grateful to them and what you would like them to know. Then send them a message of appreciation. This could be a call, letter, email or text.
Give the gift of a unique Experience
We hope you have found our mindfulness advent calendar helpful! If you are looking for a unique experience as a Christmas gift for a loved one, friend or colleague, you may be interested in booking them onto one of our 2024 Silence in the City Retreats — this is an ideal way to support their personal wellbeing. Please note that places are limited and advanced booking is usually required to avoid disappointment.
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