Hoiday Stress Busters

Nine meditations to help you get through the holidays with your sanity intact:

  1. Too many parties to attend
  2. Fighting the traffic
  3. To decorate or not to decorate
  4. The shopping experience
  5. Gift-giving expectations
  6. Unbendable family traditions
  7. The demands of meal preparation
  8. The temptations of the season
  9. When work gets in the way
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The Way of the Warrior

#1 - Too many parties to attend

You can't avoid it during the busy holiday season. There is a party somewhere almost every week starting in the first week of December and continuing through the New Year's Eve party. It might be your office party, your spouse's office party, your club's seasonal party, your friend who just can't pass up any reason for a party, and those wonderful family events where Uncle Harold will, once again, tell his war stories at 110 decibels while listening to no one. Ah, just makes you want to get in the car and drive the other way, doesn't it? But social obligations seem to come with the territory of human existence outside of a cave. If you have friends, family, a job or any affiliations, you have a party in your near future.

How do you manage to deal with the parts of the party that you don't like and yet find a means to enjoying the very concept of party? It can be done; I promise you. The biggest stressors for you may include (but not necessarily be limited to): what to wear, what time should you arrive, who are all those strangers, how to make conversation that would be interesting to anyone, how to avoid the token drunk, and more.

The problem seems to lie in the fact that you are around so many people who are intent on having a grand time or feel that they have to be perceived as having a great and wonderful time. The press of the flesh seems so shallow and the conversations so meaningless. That is, if that is what you expect it all to be.

What comes about is what you expect to come about. Change your expectations and you can change the experience.

Take the time and set aside 15 to 20 minutes to re-map your expectations. Most of what we expect is based on what we have experienced. Your experiences make up your memories and that is what you see. This exercise is to change what you see, based not on your experience, but based on what you want to see. The difference it will make will surprise you if you're not used to this way of operating in life.

Begin by relaxing using your deep relaxation technique and a few minutes of deep breathing. When you feel yourself relaxed and ready, you are going to imagine seeing this event through smiling eyes and a full heart. Start by picking out your perfect outfit. If you can't find something in your closet, head to the shopping mall and pick out something that makes you look amazing. It will be easy to find because you will walk right up and find the best choice right away.

Go through the getting dressed steps of your evening and when you finally look in the mirror, you see a smiling, happy face looking back at you. And, it's true; you look fabulous. As you head out for the party, you anticipate having a fun evening, meeting old friends and making new friends. All of your tension and reluctance was left behind in the laundry basket when you took your clothes off for your shower tonight. Walking in the door is exciting and you feel eager to meet all of these people, known and unknown.

As you visualize yourself walking up to the first group of people, you recognize some old friends and they, in turn, introduce to another couple of people who smile warmly at you. You find yourself really enjoying the conversation and in the process discover that the secret to this enjoyable exchange is that you are listening, really listening, to every opinion and idea being presented. Here's the real surprise: as you find yourself listening closely to what the others are saying, when you speak, they listen to your every word and look into your eyes. They laugh at your jokes, they nod in agreement with your ideas and they are genuinely interested in what you have to say. What a joyful discussion when everyone is equally involved.

Spend some time in this visualization, enjoying the feeling of warmth and camaraderie. The interesting thing about this evening is that it is over before you realize it - and before you want it to end. As you see the party from this perspective, you actually find yourself being enriched and expanded. After all, when you feel the presence of someone who is depressed or unhappy, aren't they able to bring your down as well? By determining to enjoy yourself and doing a little positive attitude preparation, you are insuring a wonderful evening.

When you think you have created the mood of light-hearted anticipation and are now fully prepared for a fun night out, bring your awareness back to the body and the room and take your new positive feelings with you. If you do this kind of preparation, you can expect to have a wonderful time at events that usually cause you dread. Decide what you want and it will be. Really it will. Just try it. Now, go out there and party hearty!

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Chesa Keane has taught meditation and self-help for more than 30 years. To learn how to meditate the right way, using guided meditations, go to: www.meditationwarrior.com.