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Monday Musings: on restful being during the holidays

When was the last time you did absolutely nothing? And I mean nothing, as in you were simply being, not scrolling through social media, not watching TV or reading, not napping or sleeping, and certainly not lost in thought. Most of us, myself included, struggle to easily answer that question.

As we venture into what can be an extremely exciting, frenzied, hurried, stressful, lonely or even dark time of year, when many of us feel pressure to always be doing, may this be an invitation to find rest by simply being.

I am often asked 'how do I do this?' and, in particular, 'how do I stop the endless stream of thoughts?' My best guidance in this area is to focus less on stopping thoughts, and more on letting them pass through awareness without latching onto them. It's a practice. Some days I succeed, and others I find myself following a trail of scattered thoughts for longer than I'd like to admit. No matter how hard or futile it seems, it is always within our control is to bring ourselves back to the present moment.

In the present, in full awareness of the here and now, is where we find true rest.

This season, seek out small pockets where you can find restful being:

  • Start small, and I mean small, possibly as small as one minute. What often makes this work frustrating is when we try too much too fast. Practicing being is like developing any other muscle. We need to build up strength before adding to our practice.

  • Breathe deeply from your belly.

  • Find a focal point, be it your breath or a visual that you can explore in depth, noticing its nuances: shapes, colours, smells, textures.

  • Stay with your focal point. When thoughts inevitably interfere with staying in the here and now, imagine them passing through your awareness like clouds blowing through the sky on a windy day. If that's not working, try a simple voice prompt: "I am here with my breath" or "I am here with this focal point."

  • Pay attention to how even a small window of true presence feels incredibly restful and energizing. This is being. This is one antidote to all the joyful chaos or deeply heart-breaking pain (and everything in between) that this season can bring.

May the close of this year bring you enough space for small pockets of restful being.

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