At this time of year the stresses of the season can often take their grip and so it’s good to take little break from the festivities to gather your thoughts. That’s where raisins come in, or so my mindfulness tutor tells me. Apparently they are an excellent way to focus your thoughts and give yourself a taster of practising mindfulness. On a recent course, a colleague and I were tasked with “appreciating a raisin”, popping it in the palm of our hand, taking in the folds and contours (yes, raisins have contours, they’re very in at the moment), holding it in your fingers, sniffing it (not pleasant), placing it in your mouth, but not swallowing it (which is a bit tricky), chewing it and then finally swallowing it (thank goodness for that).
This 5-minute exercise served only to remind me how much I hate raisins, so instead I’ve put together this handy guide based on the 7 principles of mindfulness and how you can put them into practice this festive season…
Don’t go into automatic pilot, instead make conscious choices
Consciously choose to hover at the buffet table eating 10 pigs in blankets, a trifle and half a bottle of sherry.
Have patience when agitated
Do not create your very own indoor snow-storm by ripping wrapping paper to shreds when the sellotape sticks to the wrong bit for the umpteenth time.
Don’t continually strive for something, accept what you have
You’re never going to get that little blue box under the Christmas Tree, accept the Elizabeth Duke package and move on.
Thoughts aren’t fixed, think of them as mental events
The hatred you feel for Uncle Bill after he cheated at monopoly won’t stick around forever, you’re just having a mental event
Live in the present moment, not the past
Develop a mind that clings to nothing. Prosecco will help this.
Don’t avoid things, approach them head on
DO NOT follow this advice whilst playing a family board game, it will only end in tears. Abort, abort!
Balance depleting activities with nourishing ones
After Christmas Day make like a hermit and lock yourself up until New Year.
And finally, have a fabulous raisin-free Christmas Day!