The holidays, especially the crowds, can be stressful to the point of making us miserable. Peace is supposed to be the reason for season, and yet it’s the polar opposite experience for many.
You can change all that simply by making peace your primary intention this holiday season. It’s easier than you might imagine.
Think back to the last time you were at peace and how it made everything easier. Stress and anxiety are what make life hard. Peace is the one true quality that makes effort feel effortless. And science tells us that a dynamically peaceful mindset makes our higher brain work better, making us calmer, smarter, more creative and optimistic as we face stressors.
What better gift to give yourself this season; and you’ll be giving it to others. Peace, by its very nature, is contagious. Your peaceful vibration extends the gift of peace to everyone around you. Just ask anyone lucky enough to have sat at the feet of the Dalia Lama or Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela.
Starting the Day in Peace
The first step in this direction involves waking up ahead of the morning rush and starting each day in peace. Set the day in motion by making peace your primary goal. Here’s how:
- Sit comfortably in a place where you won’t be disturbed.
- Tilt your head toward your heart and focus on your breathing.
- Breathe slowly and evenly, allowing the next breath to wake-up your brain, the breath after that to open your mind, and the breath after that to arouse your heart.
- Take a moment to feel appreciation for the gift of another day of life, and for another day to share it with the people you love.
- Reflect for a moment on how you want to feel today.
- Reflect on the state of mind you want to sustain throughout the day.
- Reflect on how you want to be with other people.
- Science has established that belief creates the actual fact. It’s called the “power of expectancy“. So, believe today will be as you imagined.
- Set your intention to have a great day, accomplishing tasks with the effortless effort that an attitude of peace generates.
Studies show that people who start the day with good intention experience more positive emotions during the day, exhibit more interest in their work, are more likely to feel connected and supportive toward others, and are also more likely to sleep better that night. Quite a reward for a five-minute investment.
Letting Go of Fear
Fear is the opposite of peace; that’s obvious. Thus, another step in preserving inner peace involves actively letting go of fear by not believing the stories fearful thoughts spin. Start by adopting this motto:
If fear is talking, for the love of God, stop listening.
When we don’t believe a fearful thought, it doesn’t turn into stress or anger or depression.
Transcending the Holiday Crowds
Be prepared for crowded streets and stores. If you let it, the holiday crowd will stress you and wear you down, and it can even lead to a panic attack. There are practical as well as spiritual things we can do to keep our commitment to being at peace, even in a crowded mall.
On the practical side, we can plan shopping treks carefully by avoiding weekends. Stores are crowded most on Saturdays and Sundays, so if you can, take a vacation day or two to shop a week-day. Especially avoid the three worst shopping days, which are:
- The worst: Friday, November 27 (the day after Thanksgiving)
- The second worst: Saturday, December 19
- The third worst: Saturday, December 26
On the spiritual side, if crowds frighten you, protect yourself with the power of love by taking a friend with you when you go shopping. Friends are powerful stress busters, simply because they help us feel safe.
If you are in a crowd and becoming stressed, you can quickly collapse the stress-provoking thinking that’s about to erupt into a reaction by using the Clear Button. Here’s how:
- Imagine there is a button at the center of your palm that, when pressed, sends a signal to your brain to stop fearful, worried, judgmental, or pessimistic thinking.
- Press the imaginary button with your index finger of your opposite hand and keep pressing it.
- Imagine an electrical signal travels to the brain and begins to quiet your mind.
- Now become aware of your breath, and begin counting to ‘3’, thinking of each number as a color.
- Take in a breath, count “1.” On the exhale, think red.
- Take in a second breath, count “2.” On the exhale, think blue.
- Take in a third breath, count “3.” On the exhale, think green.
On the next breath, let your mind go blank for a moment for a few seconds. Let go and relax into the present moment. As you refocus on the world around you, make the commitment to be at peace as you relate to whatever comes next.
If you start to have an anxiety attack, deep-breathing can help.
- Find a chair in the store or if none are available return to your car.
- Sit with your back straight and release the tension in your shoulders.
- Close your eyes, and place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
- Start with a few normal breaths, then breathe deeply. Deep breathing means your belly will rise and fall with every inhale and exhale.
- Focus on moving your belly as you breathe deeply.
Sometimes, it’s our families that crowd us out. Below is a simple formula for sustaining peace of mind with difficult relatives. It consists for 4 simple reminders:
- Listen better,
- Judge less,
- Forgive more
- And during those differences of opinions, ask yourself this: Would I rather be right or peaceful?
I wish you peace.