What's the BEST present you can give this holiday? Your Presence!

The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.
— Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Mawlid, the Solstice, or simply time away from your school or classroom, the holiday season is here and you finally get a break from your busy teaching lives. Will you end up filling your entire break with more endless “busyness”?  Kathleen Kryza and the staff at Infinite Horizons are suggesting that this year you try to “Stop the world, and be present!”

Okay, you might not be able to stop the entire world, but you can choose to slow down your own world. Perhaps this holiday season, you can take a moment to recognize the gifts you have before you (yourself, your kids, your family, your friends, your health, your neighborhoods, your communities) and keep your time sacred for those you hold dearest.

Here at Infinite Horizons, we are making a commitment to take a true break from the busyness in order to give our loved ones our presence as a present during this time away from our daily work schedules. We invite you to consider doing the same and would like to offer some suggestions to help you find your path. 

  • Commit to one day with no technology. (Believe it or not, many of the technology companies, such as Google and Intel, expect their employees to turn off their technology and recharge their brains.)   
  • Find a few minutes each day to just “be”. If you have children, practice mindfulness with them. It’s beneficial for everyone’s health and happiness. (See more information in our past newsletter, Mindfulness Matters:Mindfulness Practice Improves Academic Performance and Behavior.)
  • At dinner, have each family member share a blessing or something personal they are grateful for this year. (Not the “stuff” they have, but the human connections and other such intangibles.)
  • Make cards for relatives instead of giving store bought cards.
  • Read books together.
  • Listen to music, really listen.
  • Take a silent walk to look at Christmas lights and feel the world around you.

If you want to stay present and also active with your friends and family, here are some other ideas.

  • Have a family game night with board games.
  • Play charades.
  • Play in the snow: Build a snowman or a snow fort. Go sledding, or have a snowball fight.
  • Go ice-skating.
  • Christmas carol in your neighborhood.
  • Have a dance party to your favorite songs. Each person gets to pick a song.
  • Do yoga together. It’s SO good for all bodies at all ages. (Here’s a link that explains the simple Sun Salutation in less than 2 minutes. Here’s another link that gives a free 10 minute kids yoga session)

Being present is not only the best present you could possibly offer to those around you, but it will give you numerous gifts as well. Research shows that the practice of mindfulness helps us: boost our immune systems, lower stress and anxiety levels, make healthier food choices, and create more compassionate relationships. So this holiday season, turn off the technology. Give the TV, the phone, and the computer a rest. Commit to face-to-face communication. “BE HERE NOW”, as Ram Dass says. 

Thank you, educators, for all you do for children in classrooms around the world. You make a difference each and every day. Kathleen Kryza and the staff of Infinite Horizons would like to wish each of you health and happiness, peace and love for the New Year. Recharge, renew, refresh your spirit. You deserve it! 

 Written by: Kathleen Kryza with Michelle Leip