This holiday season, enlarge your experience of both giving and receiving in your most meaningful relationships by cultivating the same mindful attention you practice on your yoga mat.
There is no gift you could offer that will more profoundly enhance the emotional connections in your life than your focused attention, which explains why most people cannot distinguish between the experience of being deeply listened to, with being deeply loved.
What we remember, what makes up the stories we share years later is rarely found in a box, but rather comes through the moments when we share our full presence with the people we love.
There is no better time of year to apply the depth of your mindfulness skills to the task of learning how to receive love, which is often more of a challenge than what we know of giving love. Not only does our ability to receive provide the foundation of a grateful life but it is also a primary mechanism of fully embracing the present moment. The most effective practice is deceptively simple and also remarkably challenging: Letting go of how we think things should be, releasing our expectations and judgments allows us a moment to embrace reality as it is.
Here, we can listen for the quietest voice within us, we can glimpse the love that surrounds us.
Use these simple tips to make this holiday season love focused—instead of worrying about finding the right presents, focus your attention on bringing your full presence to all the moments you are blessed to share with people you love.
1. Slow down the holiday bustling by scheduling in time for fun and enjoyment. Many recent studies demonstrate that increasing the sweet moments of fun and celebration in your loving relationships actually creates more lasting intimate connections than showing up for the hard times. Many relationships suffer from shrinking time spent together, without digital distractions or the pressure of accomplishment. Let go of getting things done and find ways to laugh together, experience nature, eat something new. Experience the moment with as many of your senses as possible and you will also be turning it into a treasured memory.
2. Feel your heart center when you receive a compliment or a token of someone’s affection for you. The love we extend can be viscerally sensed through our front body, and the love we receive comes in through the back side of our heart center, which explains why many people experience serious tightness and blockages in their thoracic vertebrae. Next time you are on the receiving end of a generous act, a loving gesture or a sweet compliment, pause and let yourself fully receive it. Breathe into your heart, especially the back and notice the softening that happens. Allow the tenderness of what has been offered sink in. Whether the gifts are small compliments or deep gestures of generosity, learning to let the experience of being loved into our physical bodies is worthy of our holiday attention.
3. Experience how gratitude lives in you as you recognize that the most meaningful gifts at this time of year can’t be bought of even given; instead, they are the transformation that happens inside of us when we open to receiving. When we get stuck on how life’s offerings don’t match our expectations, we literally turn away from the love and pleasure that is ours. We refuse the love coming to us because it doesn’t look like what we wanted. When you open a gift this season, focus on the intention and love that the giver intended inside of the wrapping paper. Practice releasing your preconceived ideas when you open a gift and listen for what might be deeply hidden in the gift in front of you. Likewise, in choosing gifts, let your intentions of love lead you in your selection.
4. Verify the truth that intimacy begets intimacy. Studies support the strong correlation between a happy relationship and the frequency of sex. Sexual intimacy acts as the glue in long-term relationships, like pouring cement into a foundation, inspiring a deep union that paves the way for more emotional closeness and richer communication. Applying the practice of mindfulness to our intimate experiences is healing, not only because we commit ourselves to being fully present but also because we do so with non-judgmental eyes and a gentle heart. Often, the lack of connection we have to our own natural sexual libido comes as a result of the overthinking that our unspoken sexual insecurities and fears create in the bedroom. For the holidays, let go of those too.
5. Live sensuously. A powerful way to quiet the mind and bring your self into the moment is to rely on your senses. Sensuality, which is the cornerstone of a healthy libido response, as well as a passionate connection to life, requires focusing your attention on connecting to all of your senses deeply. It is in the smallest of sensations that this practice comes alive. For instance, in intimacy, feel the different textures of skin on your partner’s body or feel the weight of their hands on your lower abdomen, run your fingers through their hair, trace their face with your lips. Giving these moments are full attention speaks love and will create some of the warmest memories of the season.
Ed: Bryonie Wise