Practicing Presence This Holiday Season

For many people, the holiday season represents happy times spent with family and friends eating delicious food and exchanging gifts. For me, it’s an ongoing assignment of practicing presence. I’d be lying if I told you that seeing certain family members doesn’t flood back memories of less than tactful things said to me. One of my re-occurring assignments happens when my mother “parents” me in front of my child at family functions. For instance, my son tends to throw tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. Rather than supporting me in my loving yet firm parenting stance, my mother very swiftly and efficiently blurts out, “Manners begin at home, Stefania.”

The 20-year-old version of me would have internalized my mom’s words, cried, and then reactively blurted out a defensive retaliation. The 38-year-old version of me pauses, takes a calming breath, and states, “Thank you for your opinion.” Being the bigger person and taking the high road is not as easy as it seems. This response came through years of practicing mindfulness and presence.

Here are five techniques that will help you remain present this holiday season:

  1. Other people’s words remain their opinions until you choose to believe them as facts. You have the power to internalize what they say just as much as you have the power to let it go. I chose not to internalize my mom’s words.
  2. When I begin to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and tense, I like to repeat a mantra internally or aloud while talking calming breaths. One of my favorites is, “I am stronger than this moment.”
  3. When feeling the urge to give a reactive verbal response, remember that like bonds with like. If negative energy is being spewed your way, don’t give negative energy back. Negative people become confused and quiet when positivity is given back to them.
  4. Never underestimate the power of walking away. If it’s too overwhelming to be near the other person, move your body somewhere else. For example, when my dad told me that my son’s tantrums were a result of him not having a father at home, I responded with, “That’s a unique perspective,” and then walked away to talk with someone else.
  5. Practice compassion for yourself. You will have non-presence moments. Remember that you are a human being, and as such you are always learning and growing. Forgive yourself and move forward. Dwelling on the past leads to a whole new set of emotional obstacles to overcome.

Stefania Maiale, e-RYT 200, Owner of Collegeville Yoga Bar, has been certified in Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga since 2010. In addition to teaching weekly classes, Stefania is the lead trainer of the studio’s 200 Hour Hatha and Vinyasa Teacher Training Program and is the lead trainer of the Kids' Yoga Continuing Education Certification Program. She is looking forward to PARTICIPATING in Collegeville Yoga Bar’s Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training beginning in March 2019.  Stefania is practicing living a life of presence. Over the past two years, she has thrived through a kidney transplant and the surgical removal of a pituitary brain tumor. She is the proud single mother of an 8-year-old son, a 15-year-old toy poodle, and an 11-year-old cat.

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