We’re all hustle and bustle right now. I’m willing to bet you are too. Working long hours to finish up client projects before the end of the year, stressing out about the million little extras that need doing for the holidays. But in the midst of the usual December maelstrom, I’ve found an unlikely reminder to be mindful.
Recently a friend gave me a book I never would have picked up myself: Sabbath by Wayne Muller. Don’t shy away because of the title, as I almost did. But I knew my friend wasn’t your typical Sabbath-y person, so when she said it would resonate with me, I believed her. And it does. The subtitle really says it all: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives.
Who couldn’t use some of that?
In our culture, we often equate rest and peacefulness with laziness. If we’re not constantly busy, we feel downright guilty.
What if this holiday season we let go of the guilt about leaving things undone? What if we took the opportunity instead to find what Muller calls the “quiet that would give us wisdom?”
(I could definitely use some of that!)
Muller’s view is that by setting aside dedicated times of quiet and mindfulness, we can rediscover an oasis of joy and renewal in our lives. He uses the word Sabbath as a “specific practice and a larger metaphor.”
It’s simply a means to encourage us to think about what we miss when we tackle life as one ginormous to-do list.
While it touches on the world’s major religions, of course, the book has plenty to offer people like me, who occasionally struggle to carve out mindful chunks of time in a busy life. I’m particularly intrigued by the concrete ideas Muller has for how to approach rest and renewal. See if any resonate for you too:
- “Find a candle that holds some beauty or meaning for you.” Set aside a specific time, a day of the week or a time of day—before eating, before bedtime, any quiet time—and light your special candle. Be still. Be mindful. Breathe deeply. Let your worries and your never-ending checklists fall away. They’ll still be there later, but perhaps you’ll have changed your attitude or approach.
- Unplug for an hour, a few hours, a whole day . . . “surrender to a quality of time” that is free from the technology that both saves and buries us. Is there a better time than now to try this?
Imagine how much more we’d all get out of the holidays if we actually gave the gift of mindfulness!
- Offer a blessing to your loved ones. “Be well.” “Be happy.” Whatever fits the person and the moment. Renowned meditation teacher and author Sharon Salzberg takes it even further with “guerilla compassion.” Offer unspoken blessings to the strangers around you. Wish them well as you stand in line or wait at a red light. It’s a secret, silent paying forward.
- Practice intentional silence. In Colorado and Minnesota, we sometimes have awe-inspiring, quiet-inducing snowfalls. Do you know the ones I mean? The world seems wrapped in a blanket of perfect stillness. Imagine carrying that feeling with you as you hike with a friend—without speaking. Or simply stroll through your neighborhood alone, silently admiring Christmas lights.
- Use a mindfulness box. Make it something meaningful for you. Write on a small piece of paper a worry you’d like to set aside for a bit. It could also an undone task or a problem you need to solve. Let the box hold it for you so you can refocus on mindfulness and gratitude.
- Set aside “inviolable” time for play. I particularly love this one. Muller reminds us that “play nourishes our delight.” That rings so true for us here at EPI.
I’m glad to be reminded to be mindful. Mindful of how lucky we are at EPI to work with wonderful client partners, to share our toils and troubles with likeminded team members, and to be able to take time away to enjoy our family, friends, and pets. And to come back refreshed, refocused, and reenergized.
Happy Holidays to all of you from all of us. And may your New Year be full of joy, wonder, and mindfulness.
Michelle Kelly, CEO (Chief Enjoyment Officer)