As is oft' said the most important thing we can give another is our presence. Yet at this time of year most of us are more interested in presents: either giving or receiving!
Nothing wrong with that it is good to give and its the time of year to remember to give to those less well off than ourselves. If you have children it's also very important to get those Santa presents in - only 17 shopping days left!
But really what our friends and loved ones really need at this time of year (and throughout the year) is our presence. My teacher Thich That Hanh (or Thay) says our presence is the first act of love. It's important to really be there and to be one our phones or iPads or away somewhere else in our heads. It's about paying attention to the present moment. It's about mindfulness.
Thay offers us this story:
"When you love someone, you have to be truly present for him or for her. A ten-year-old boy I know was asked by his father what he wanted for his birthday, and he didn’t know how to answer. His father is quite wealthy and could afford to buy almost anything he might want. But the young man only said, “Daddy, I want you!” His father is too busy – he has no time for his wife or his children. To demonstrate true love, we have to make ourselves available. If that father learns to breathe in and out consciously and be present for his son, he can say, “My son, I am really here for you.”
The greatest gift we can make to others is our true presence. “I am here for you” is a mantra to be uttered in perfect concentration."
So saying 'I am here for you' is one gift you can offer to your loved ones this Christmas. You dont have to spend a lot of money to help others be happy. When in my classes I invite people to consider what they are grateful for, rarely does anyone mention something materialistic or commercial - it's always about the little things - a warm fire, the sunset, their childs smile. To quote Jon Kabat-Zinn "the little things aren't little, they're life."
So this Christmas cultivate more presence. Breathe in and breathe out and know that you are there, dwell happy and peacefully in the present moment, however it is. And remember there is no such thing as perfect, just perfectly imperfect!
If you read on you'll notice below that I've put a 'promise' in with each course I'm offering. I got this idea from a recent Mastery Foundation retreat I intended. I want to be able to stand over my offerings and not 'play them down'. In the early 2000s I worked for easyJet and their philosophy was 'underpromise and over deliver'. I always thought this was a great idea - to exceed people's excepections. But, I've decided that actually my courses are wonderful and I can stand over them! So,if you (as the purchaser) take responsibility to do the required practice and participation, I can in-fact guarantee you a great outcome! Hold me to it! xx
As the 'Christmas rush' kicks into full speed now, finding times of peace and of stillness can be challenging. The ability to soothe yourself is powerful, and one of the most effective tools for this is just simply stopping and sitting in silence for a few moments. Maybe turn off the TV, radio, iPhone and just pause and breathe. Doing this a few times a day throughout the holiday season will enable you to really savour and enjoy the time even more.
Ancient wisdom tells us that balance is achieved when we live in harmony with nature, so look to nature surrounding you for inspiration. Winter is the most yin of the seasons, with shorter days and cooler nights, which makes this month an ideal time to reflect, rest, and restore.
If you enjoy receiving these emails you may enjoy my Immeasurable Minds blog posts... recently I've written about 'breathing my way to enlightenment', 'why kindness is good for you' and 'Take time to post your Christmas cards this year'.
If you would like to cultivate presence as practice in 2018 I have LOTS of new courses starting and I'd love to you to join me. See below for all the details or click on my newly updated webpage, where you'll see the listings set out clearly and you can click on what you are interested in. You'll also see that I'm moving from event management site Eventbrite to Picatic - basically because Picatic is cheaper for you in terms of booking fees. Let me know what you think of it when booking! I'm also really interested in any feedback on this newsletter and blog posts etc. Thank you.
This will be my first Christmas as a married woman and I'm looking forward to it - though I'll still be going home to my mum and dad for Christmas dinner! If somehow you missed my wedding news - here's another link I haven't shared before showing lots of photos of big day by my very talented photographer Collette O'Neill.
I hope you'll all get to spend some downtime relaxing and enjoying with your families. Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. x x x
This month's video of the month is a Ted Talk by Jose Miguel Sokoloff entitled "How Christmas Lights helped guerillas put down their guns". If you've ever watched Narcos on Netflix or been interested in Colombia, peace processes or advertising or just love inspiring Christmas related stories you must watch this. Wonderful work Jose!
This month's book of the month is 'The Sleep Revolution' by Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post founder). There has been a rash of new 'sleep' books out this past year but his one was given to me by my lovely Sangha friend Sheila. (Thank you!) The research on sleep is indisputable: sleep is crucial to our wellbeing and most of us aren't getting enough, check out this book for facts and inspiration on why you should turn of your phone and turn in early tonight! xx