Perhaps you feel uncertain about your Thanksgiving plans this year or have either cancelled or altered them. Most of us will have some plans for Thanksgiving, but it may leave us “out of sorts”. Things are different than previous years, and now more than ever adding serenity to your Thanksgiving can help make a huge difference. Approaching the holiday from a perspective of mindfulness will keep you present, calm and able to offer lovingkindness even to that family member that gets on your last nerve.
Welcome to Mindfulness Monday! Where we learn some easy ways to be more present “in the moment” at our jobs, in our homes, with our families and friends.
Learning to recognize God and what He has for us in each divine moment He offers. We acknowledge the belief that God is with us always.
We confess His presence is available to us, lifting our spirit and helping us with power and grace. Learning the art of “stillness” so we can hear His voice and view ourselves, others and our surroundings through His eyes.
hustle, bustle and headaches, oh my
Hosting any event creates stress, but it seems for me, Thanksgiving involves more work. I love hosting, because I enjoy every aspect of preparing and serving a meal. I spend extra time preparing the table, and I have each person in attendance in mind when preparing the food. To me, sharing a meal conveys love and elevates the entire eating experience for me. To gather in order to share gratitude is truly a sacred time.
In the current COVID-19 environment, both preparations and sharing the meal become more involved. Considering how to arrange everything to include physical distancing and safe ways to serve and eat food. Many people are choosing to gather outdoors which has its own complications. COVID-19 aside, Thanksgiving gatherings and family dynamics offer challenges. Consider adding serenity to Thanksgiving through mindfulness, ensuring a meaningful time for all.
adding serenity to thanksgiving
No matter what your Thanksgiving looks like, you can create an atmosphere of lovingkindness and gratitude. Though your plans may look very different than you hoped, gratitude isn’t cancelled. The whole purpose we gather on Thanksgiving is well, to offer thanksgiving! Through the following mindfulness tips, you can look forward to an enjoyable celebration.
The Serenity of Preparation
- If you are joining loved ones at a gathering, before arriving, take time for a five minute mindful check in. I explain how to do this here. This will help you transition from your everyday world to full presence at your Thanksgiving gathering. Basically you are taking five minutes to do mindful breathing, release tension and focus your awareness on the present. Plan to arrive five to ten minutes early to help with the transition.
- If you are hosting the Thanksgiving gathering, plan a time before the guests arrive to do the mindful check in. I find this priceless as the host, because it helps me transition from preparation hustle and bustle to creating presence with my loved ones without distraction.
- Whether you join others for the Thanksgiving gathering or host family in your home, release expectations ahead of time. Accept things may not occur as in the past, and may not unfold as planned. Keeping an attitude of openness and acceptance paves the way for an enjoyable time without disappointment.
- Prior to arriving or receiving guests, take time to jot down two or three things you appreciate about each person in attendance. This helps you focus on gratitude about your loved one, not the things that may irritate you about them. It may be fun to share those things you appreciate at some point during the gathering.
The Serenity of Connection
- If you cannot gather with loved ones as in the past, don’t spend the day alone. Look to gather outside with a friend or neighbor and plan to connect virtually with loved ones and celebrate gratitude together.
- If you do gather with loved ones, despite physical distancing, seek to be present with the people around you. Leave technology in the car, at home or turned off. Make eye contact, ask questions about their well-being, laugh, share memories of life together.
The Serenity of Fellowship
- As you take time for a mindful check in or mindful breathing prior to your gathering, whether in person or virtual, you will notice more awareness of your surroundings, others, and your own feelings. You will enjoy less distraction and more ability to engage with loved ones. As you end your mindful check in with gratitude, your mind is already focused on a positive way to engage.
- Use an object to keep you present. Choose a specific piece of jewelry, bracelet, necklace, ring, or earrings. During the gathering each time you find yourself distracted or day dreaming, simply touch the piece of jewelry to bring you into the present moment. This also works well to center yourself on what you appreciate about someone, if conversation turns difficult.
- While Thanksgiving involves family and friends gathering, everyone experienced significant stress over the past eight months. We live in a country divided by racism, politics, a pandemic and differing views and traditions. Even family does not always agree on everything. Know your triggers ahead of time, and have a plan in place to avoid reactivity.
Tips to Remain in the Spirit of Thanksgiving
- Respond rather than react. Practice the Pause, when faced with a prying question, inappropriate remark or indifferent comment. Simply stop, take a deep breath, exhale very slowly, and ask yourself this question, “Who do I want to be in this moment?” Or “How can I respond so that God will be honored?” Those questions generally get me off my high horse and into the best frame of mind.
- Practice Empathy. We are all complex human beings, dealing with pain, troubled pasts, loneliness and sinful behavior. While we may not agree with everyone, we can still treat others with compassion and respect. Remember when dealing with that difficult loved one, YOU may be that difficult person in someone else’s life.
- Be generous with forgiveness and compassion. Shifting your focus from self to others creates space for forgiveness and compassion. Allow space for loved ones to be themselves, even when they fall short or try your patience.
- Stay focused on the purpose of the gathering. Again, we gather to celebrate thankfulness and all God has done for us. Despite hardships, disagreements and irritations, we can all find something for which to express gratitude. If you host, consider a tradition where each person in attendance can share gratitude. They could share gratitude for an attribute of God, a person in attendance, something from the past year, or a favorite Thanksgiving memory.
God is the ultimate serenity at thanksgiving
While mindfulness definitely helps us stay present with loved ones and create space for lovingkindness and acceptance towards others, ultimately God’s presence gifts us serenity. Part of my mindful check in always includes asking that God fill me with awareness of His presence in my day. His presence brings serenity to any situation and enables my compassion and acceptance of others as I acknowledge His image in them.
Even in such a distressing year as 2020, we have much for which to express thankfulness. The fact that gathering is complicated this year, opens our eyes to what we take for granted. Increasing our awareness of God’s constant presence with us brings serenity to the present and hope for the future.
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