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Christmas presence

Christmas presence

Georgie Edwards shares her thoughts on how to enjoy Christmas by embracing the present moment.

If you're stuck for Christmas present ideas this year, I've got the perfect one for you. The gift of P R E S E N C E.

'Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present'. — Alice Morse Earle.

It's the warm-up to Christmas; we've waited all year for the magical month of December, maybe even two years if you live in the UK, as last year's festivities ended rather abruptly!

The party plans are in the diary with friends, family and loved ones. But finally, after two years of waiting, we get to that moment that we've waited so long for, and we're not even really there. Our minds are somewhere else; we're zoning out mid-conversation or have this uncontrollable temptation to check our phone even though there's nothing of importance there.

Don't worry, you're not the only one - we all do it.

Unfortunately, after a couple of lockdowns and a lot more time indoors with our technology, we've become so used to having it around it's become an addiction. Even if you're sure that your phone isn't distracting you, you could be falling victim to the 'phone proximity effect.'

Some interesting studies suggest that just by having our phones nearby can affect our engagement and focus on a task or conversation.

We've become so used to non-stop, colourful, intense stimulation from our screens that we've become under-stimulated in the simplicity of conversation.

How can we bring more awareness and presence into these beautiful and vital moments in our lives?

It doesn't always have to be a disciplined approach like 20 minutes of meditation every morning (although that would be a great thing to add), but weaving little moments of mindfulness into your daily life can help the brain become familiar with BEing.

  1. Take advantage of red lights
    These moments of discomfort, which usually cause frustration or anger, particularly if we're running late, can be used as a reminder to drop into the moment. Try bringing gentle awareness to your breath, taking a deeper inhalation and softly releasing the exhale.

  2. Digital detox
    Try practising mini digital detoxes like leaving your phone at home or switching it off while you're out for dinner. Of course this might not be possible for everyone but if you can wouldn't you want to be there wholehearted and present for the person in front of you? Maybe challenge yourself and turn off social media for a week over Christmas and see how you feel?

  3. Mindful eating
    Most of us end up eating our lunch at our desks, maybe whilst commuting and then dinner in front of a screen of some kind. We miss the opportunity to appreciate what's in front of us and how lucky we are to have access to food, unlike many people in this world. What if you were to sit and really taste the food, each flavour, texture and temperature. That's presence.

If you want to change a habit, you have to start small; if we begin to add little moments of mindfulness throughout our day it's much more likely to form a new habit.

You are a human being, not a human doing. Can we all take a step back from all this busyness to be in this life and stare at the sky, take in all the magical colours of the natural world, listen to the sounds of the wind. Love and laugh again with our loved ones. Whatever it is, we have a magical world right in front of us. We need to open our eyes and see it right in front of us.

‘Be here now.’ -  Ram Dass

Georgie Edwards, The Knotted Yogi, is a London-based yoga teacher who trained in the northern mountains of India. Find out more here