By Susan Davis

The enjoyment and practice of anticipating and then enacting a holiday can be a ritual that fills this time of year with the power of presence and well… enchantment. While the term enchantment can be attributed to magical sorts of things – it is also defined as “a feeling of great pleasure; delight”. Purposefully moving your attention (mindfulness) to those experiences which hold that sense of awe and delight, magically transform this season from one of obligation and busyness to one of true celebration for all our senses. This also provides a backdrop for the meaningfulness of friendships, family, values, and traditions.

Our brains crave over-sized novelty. Things that engage all neurotransmitters: creating the next “big idea”, winning the lottery, booking the ideal vacation, finding the perfect relationship… while under our noses exists the everyday flavor of life – the dog’s greeting at the door, the heat working, the neighbor waving, the scent of fresh coffee at work. These types of experiences that we take for granted are waiting to be noticed and appreciated. The holidays provide a door to a season of novel experiences while familiarity comes back in waves. Holidays are “shiny” and draw us in. They inhabit that middle ground of semi-automatic mindfulness. We can more easily slip into this heightened awareness while this season resides with us.

When anticipating the delightful holidays that come during this season, sensory experiences can be your guide and your friend. Listening in on your heart’s reaction to these experiences will inform your mind and gently guide your activities and efforts to create what is truly meaningful. It’s time to quiet the drama of “busy” while settling in for the show. If you did nothing else than wake up from the default of your task life to view holiday windows, look around your neighborhood, and bake one favorite treat – you have a front row seat on why these holidays are cherished traditions for so many.

Is there a dark side to holidays? Of course. Without a doubt there are pressures to “perform”, expectations to wrestle with, and a social media feed that will not stop. There are important people who are no longer here – creating a sense of loss and sadness. There are also people who hand us a large portion of what is wrong in the world and the guilt to go with it… and the list could continue. And yet, there is good news! There are limitless ways to connect with the part of you that wants to have its way with you! Your soul and person longs to be enchanted. You can be conscious and vitally awake (mindful) through present awe-filled moments.

Wander with me through the most basic offers of the season:

  • Intergenerational hugs
  • Food – oh the food!
  • Lights – candles, sparkles abound
  • Surprise and delight of gifts – given and received
  • Friends
  • So many colors!
  • Smells of fresh baked goods in every shape, size and taste
  • Stories for days
  • Music surrounds
  • Traditions glow

There is a good chance that you need not do anything, except be observant, to enjoy this holiday season. As you mindfully notice each experience – take a generous breath and breathe it in. However, should you choose to actively participate, your level of engagement will take your delight to the next level. Would it really be so bad to star in your own Holiday Card for a season? Go gently, breathe and lead with your heart-informed choices. This is all you need to elevate your mindfulness during the holiday season and beyond! You will be surprised by the enchantment that is living all around and through you!

“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment.” —Jon Kabat-Zinn