Week 51/Returning to Peace During the Holidays

This time of year, whether you have a faith tradition or a family tradition of holiday celebrations, you can’t help but feel the energy in the air. You are probably busy shopping, hosting gatherings, or creating decorative or festive scenes at home, work, or out in the community. It is also a time where strong memories are aroused, both positive and negative, which may add to the already heightened emotions of the season. It is times like this that it is essential to take time:
 to pause,
to breathe,
to reconnect to what anchors you
…so you are not swept up by the emotions and chaos.
For me, this means returning to my breath, simply bringing full attention to breathing in and breathing out…for as long as it takes to feel a sense of presence with myself and awareness of what I am doing, thinking, and feeling. There isn’t always time to pause long enough to feel centered; however, enough attention brought back to the breath throughout each day can keep me steady enough to navigate the rough spots of the season. I find that I can get myself to shore, where I can finally rest in the breath for a longer period of time. This can be the time you set aside to meditate, to walk, or to eat.
During this time of year, I need greater quiet in my home – less TV, less radio, less stimulation because of all the holiday activity. I need more breaks from people. I choose to walk by myself, take a nap, or read in my room. A meditation practice is like a reservoir of patience, understanding, and loving-kindness. Since you may find this reservoir running empty at this time of year, take some extra time to fill up! If you suddenly find yourself empty, no worries! You can always tap into this everlasting well by returning at any time to your practice.
I often think of my practice as a gift that gives endlessly to all. Before heading out to purchase gifts or enjoy holiday festivities, I take time to meditate and ground myself. If you find yourself getting caught up in the chaos, simply start again, and again, with a few mindful breaths!
Some instructions if you are new to mindfulness:
Mindfulness of the Breath
 Still your body by sitting, standing, or lying down.Take a few deep full breaths and then allow your breath to be natural.Bring full attention to the sensations of the breath as it moves in and out of the nose. Allow all other thoughts and sensations to fall into the background.Continue to follow the natural flow of the breath with full attention.The mind will naturally wander to other sensations, or thoughts may arise and shift the attention away from the breath.Simply return back to the sensation of the breath, without judgment or pushing away thoughts. This simple practice, when repeated, can lead to greater focus, calm, and a clear mind.May you discover some moments of peace, calm, and joy this holiday season.
Tashi Deley,

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.