a mindful thanksgiving | 10 ways to increase Joy

For many, 2020 has been a year of ups and downs. For some, it has meant more time with family, a slower time, a time for reflection and assessment of our once full and busy lives. For many, this has been a time of isolation, fear, worry, anger, and anxiety. Whatever path of emotions you are experiencing I encourage you to meet and greet these emotions with curiosity and openness. Allow your emotions to be present without the need to change or fix them. How we respond is the higher learning and if reacting has been more your style, I invite you to continue to bring in mindfulness rituals and practices to support you to transcend through the difficult times. There is joy at the end of every emotion, we just have to be willing to see it.

1. Practice loving-kindness

The loving-kindness or metta prayer is my favorite and is a simple and effective way to bring you to a place of joy, compassion, and forgiveness. I have a free loving-kindness meditation prayer that you can listen to.

“May I be happy”
“May I be healthy, peaceful, and strong”
“May I give and receive love and appreciation today”

“May you…”
“May we…”
“May they…”

2. Eat Mindfully

I know you’ve heard me talk about this one! Eating in a sattvic or peaceful environment is more important than what you’re eating. Not only is this an important ritual for supporting healthy digestion, weight, and absorption of your food, it will help you to have a healthy relationship with your food. The relationship with yourself is the most important one and it can start right here at the breakfast table. You will feel calmer, lighter, and more joyful throughout your day just by eating without the phone, t.v. computer or other distractions.

3. Talk and listen mindfully

While you’re with family and friends this holiday season and someone is speaking, I invite you to fully give your attention to him/her without already thinking about what you’re going to say when they’re done. I call it “always already thinking”. Don’t think, just listen with your whole heart.

4. 5 joys in under 5 minutes

Make a list of 5 things that bring you ultimate joy that you can do in under 5 minutes. When you begin to feel a challenging emotion, you can turn to this list as a reminder to keep you smiling from the inside out so that maybe you can RESPOND to the emotion rather than REACT.
Here are my 5 joys: 1. putting my warm cozy slippers on my feet 2. drinking a cup of chamomile tea 3. holding my son or daughter’s hand 4. Lying on the floor and hugging my knees into my chest. 5. Infusing palo santo, sage, or sandalwood in my house.

5. Practice gratitude

This is always a good one to practice! I go through times of writing in my gratitude journal every night to long periods where I have fallen off practice. And EVERY SINGLE TIME I return, I always ask myself why I ever stopped! There is no better way to keep you in the present than by writing and affirming what you are grateful for. Yogananda, a great spiritual master said,  “Gratitude is the surest way of developing the magnetism that attracts spiritual abundance into our lives.”  We are only grateful for the things we can see and I always find that this ritual helps me to feel joy throughout the day as I look for those things I am grateful for. If the family conversation goes in a negative direction, change the subject, and ask if everyone at the table can go around and name one thing they are THANKFUL for.

6. Check in with your senses

What do you smell, taste, touch, hear, and see during the holidays? The holidays may look different for many of us but there are still similarities each year that bring a heightened sense of joy when we hear the noises made by the cooks in the kitchen, the aromas of freshly prepared foods, and the taste of the love of labor.

7. Breathe

When emotions arise, just breathe. Your breath is the only thing you can control. We just have to remember to use it. There are thousands of pranayama breathing techniques but I invite you to keep it simple by closing your eyes and taking 3-5 deep breaths in through your nose and exhales out of your mouth. It’s an immediate adjustment to your mood that takes less than 1 minute!

8. Cook Mindfully

The energy of the chef equals the energy of the food. Prepare your feast with a loving heart and everyone will receive the joy you’ve given.

9. Take time for self-care

Take a moment to rest, meditate, drink a cup of tea, take a warm bath, or anoint yourself with herbal oils. Self-care is not selfish. You can’t give from an empty vessel so fill your joyful cup first!

10. Don’t forget to laugh

Life is too short not to find joy and laughter each day. Laughter is the best medicine!

From my family to yours, wishing you a joyful holiday season!

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