The holidays are a time of joy… and stress. What is the best way to be present in the moment and enjoy it more?  Austin-based Resonance RepatternIng Practitioner, Mary Schneider, shares her healing insight on understanding and creating change you want to occur in your life now and into the New Year.

Change is inevitable. Either you are on board with it or not, but it is bound to occur. As we approach the holiday season, let us remember that this is probably the time of year where we are most inundated with change. Our schedules change; we go on vacation; we engage in more social events and, of course, we are with members of our families we don’t always see. This is great on a lot of levels. However, my business always gets really heavy around this time of year. “Can I get a session, I will be seeing my Mom.” “My sister’s coming in with her husband, do you have any openings?” Most of us have a very clear understanding of the reasons why this happens.

One of the most important things we can do during this time of year where all this change occurs is to take care of ourselves. Most of us take better care to creatively wrap a gift than we do with ourselves. Admittedly, it is my favorite time of year. People are excited. There is incredible beauty everywhere and the concept of giving the people we love and care about a symbol of our appreciation is a lovely tradition. However, we are all well aware of the stress that is also inherent in the holidays.

One of the reasons for this inherent stress is because the season has become so commercialized. There are a lot of expectations people have to live up to and meet. Everything from cooking gourmet meals to a constant barrage of advertisements makes everything look much easier than it really is. Many of these expectations are self-inflicted – we think that we need to fulfill everyone’s perfect holiday experience and if we do not then we are failing them. As a result, our lives transform into one big, giant list. The attendant busy-ness trying to accomplish “The List” turns us inside out and the stress it creates, while pulling us right out of the present moment in which we could be participating.

What happens when we are not present? Where are we when we are being controlled by “The List”? Simply, we are not here. We are not able to stop and really enjoy the season or the time we have taken off to enjoy the holiday, or to be with the people we do not normally get to visit. We become slaves to “The List” and to the schedule and do not get to experience what this season really has to offer. When we are throwing ourselves out into the future, we are not present in the now and when we are not present we are disempowered. When we are disempowered by the problems, obstacles and delays occur as they always do in life, we have a difficult time dealing with them in an unemotional, stress-free manner. I have said before that I had a spiritual teacher who had as their first commandment, “Take care of yourselves so that you can take care of others.” That is true year ‘round and especially during these months.

How would you take care of yourself during this season? What would it look like if you actually did that? Before we completely dive into the holidays, let us contemplate what that would look like for us. More quality time with the children, the opportunity to participate in activities for which we would not normally have the time, and the ability to be present to the ones we love. Plus, creating presence to the joy and peace inherent in this time of year. Relax. Breathe.

I once had a therapist tell me that I needed to relax more. I said I would like to and I might be able to, but I had too much to do and when those things were done that I might consider relaxing. She offered, “Why don’t you consider relaxing while you’re doing all these things that you have to do?” What a concept! I was shocked and it gave me an awareness that I hadn’t had before. I wrote “Relax” on “The List” in between every few items. It worked.

This holiday season let us make an intention to give “Presence for Presents”. Give the gift of being present to the ones you love; present to their essence; present to their being; present to their love. Bestselling author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle writes, “Why did anxiety, stress or negativity arise? Because you turned away from the present moment. And why did you do that? You thought something else was more important. You forgot your main purpose. One small error, one misperception, creates a world of suffering.” I agree completely.

This year let us focus on reducing suffering and creating more peace and contentment; for those we care about and for ourselves. And, as we bring in the bright New Year, we can set an intention for 2014 to be more present. For in reality, the only thing we really have is the present; the Now. Best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful holiday season and into 2014.