It can be easy over Christmas to get caught up in a mountain of stress, whether you are feeding the 5,000 for Christmas lunch or are facing the prospect of a Christmas alone… the build up to Christmas can be many things for many people; sometimes we are “under pressure” to have a good time, to be instantaneously filled with goodwill to all men.

Taking time out to rest the mind is more important than ever at this time and a little Meditation practice can help to enhance your festive season whether you are planning a full on party season or for whatever reason you are channelling the Grinch this year and can’t wait to see the back of it!

Take time to sit for a while and be still

People tell me all the time that they have “no time” for Meditation; but do those people walk a dog, take a bath, wash the dishes, go out into the garden, etc… all of these activities can incorporate a little meditation and I read a wonderful quote recently which simply said; “everyone should sit for 20 minutes every day in Meditation, unless they don’t have time… in which case they should sit for an hour.” So true.

People who meditate are clinically proven to have lower blood pressure, less stress related illness, lower cholesterol and generally are healthier and happier so meditation isn’t purely for hippies or those pursuing enlightenment!!

Find ten minutes in every day to sit and be still and simply just BE… forget the turkey, the gifts, the wine rack..For ten minutes focus on simply being and feel the tension escape your body.

These ten minutes could come from getting out of bed a little earlier, going to bed a little later, missing out on ten minutes of a television programme you might be watching just for the sake of it. You will get more out of ten minutes of silent meditation than from 3 hours of watching the television.

Be grateful

Take time to sit back and count your blessings.

 In a world where we are constantly taught that more is better, let go of any need to compete or buy more or better gifts than anyone else. If you are having a lean Christmas, be grateful for the family and friends you have to share it with, for the simple things such as a warm safe house to spend time in, for the food you have to eat and for time to enjoy the pleasure of your loved one’s company.

If you are spending Christmas alone, it need not be torture, indeed I had a very likely chance of spending Christmas day alone this year, and employing the practice of gratitude, thought how lovely it could be to have a whole day to myself, no work to do, no one demanding anything of my time, thinking about buying some of my favourite foods, watching my all-time favourite movies with a glass of mulled wine and the cats curled at my feet. A candle lit bubble bath, a hot water bottle, snugly pyjamas and a good book.. Thinking about these simple things and the pleasure in enjoying them, I am almost disappointed to now be dining out on Christmas day!!!

Sometimes your own company is enough and if 2012 hasn’t brought what you want, take in the reality that Christmas is simply one day, that soon we have the prospect of a brand new year, a clean fresh page, new goals to set and achieve.

So be thankful for what you do have not what you don’t. As Buddha said, as long as you have breath in your body, you can find SOMETHING for which to be thankful.

If you are grieving the loss of a loved one this year, take time to remember the wonderful memories you have and be thankful to have shared those times.

Remember the true meaning of Christmas

Which has nothing to do with materialism and everything to do with peace and harmony. Try to ease any conflicts or disputes you have had by sending a card as a token of good will or simply release any feelings of hurt or anger from your mind by choosing to be free of negative feelings and letting go. Light white candles to invoke harmony, make a list of good times you have shared with anyone you feel has wronged you and take time to tell people you care about how much you love them.

Use Mantras

Mantras are not simply for Yogis or seasoned Meditators sat cross legged under a tree. Mantra is simply the repeated saying or internalising of a phrase or word which over time will become ingrained in your subconscious and eventually become a belief.

Even if your mantra is simply “I am calm and relaxed,” repeating it over and over will have countless benefits as your inner mind will eventually accept that as fact. It is impossible to repeatedly say or think calming, positive words and feel wound up or stressed.

Give yourself a gift of some Mala beads, which are a kind of rosary in Buddhist tradition; Mala typically have 108 beads to them as it is thought that it takes 108 repetitions for a mantra to begin to become ingrained within your mind and begin to take effect… a belief is nothing more than a repetative thought, so make your repetative thoughts positive ones!

Have a wonderful, peaceful Christmas and remember that an unhealthy mind can never equate to a healthy body.