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Presence Over Presents

Feel the warmth of the fireplace seep into your toes as you defrost from the blustery cold outside. Breathe deeply the scent of cinnamon pumpkin pie baking in the kitchen. Notice the smile on your loved one’s face as they welcome you into your home. Does their smile make the corners of their eyes crinkle? Have they changed since the last time you saw them?

What are you doing in this moment?
Being mindfully present — enjoying each moment.

This holiday season, we encourage you to focus on presence over presents. Being mindfully present is a practice of focusing your attention on your inner and outer experience. It means being truly there — body and mind together.

Being mindfully present involves moment to moment awareness of what is currently happening. Internally we become more aware of our body and our mind. Taking note of our thoughts, emotions, and body allows us to know ourselves more fully. That also helps us understand how we relate to each other. Externally we expand our awareness, which enables us to note the sensations and visual scenes around us. Doing so helps us appreciate the world around us.

Don’t stress about finding the right present, rushing off to multiple holiday parties, arranging travel plans, or anything else. Instead, be mindfully present. It will make you happier and less stressed. Research shows that mindfulness is linked with decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is associated with feeling less stressed. Mindfulness can make your holidays a truly happy one.

The practice of being mindfully present can also help make you a better person. According to a study in the journal Psychological Science, it makes people more compassionate. This holiday, spread the cheer with your friends, family, neighbors, and even passing strangers. A compassionate smile can be more valuable than any store-bought present.


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