A practical guide to staying present with yourself and others

Christmas is a busy time of the year and perhaps what you need is a small escape to re-energise before getting back into the festive spirit.


  • How to be present with yourself and others
  • Being patient with difficult people in the family
  • Spending a good time with loved ones
  • Feeling less anxious and more joyful
  • Sharing warmth and happiness

Here are 3 top tips from Karuna, the former Buddhist monk:

1. Be grounded no matter what’s going around
Take a moment, pause and breathe for about 10 seconds. Notice what the physical sensation as you inhale and exhale. How is your body? Are their tensions on your shoulder, head or heart? Gently begin to loosen up. Loosen up a little more. A little more until you feel an ease in the body. Feel your feet on the ground. Notice whether they are cold or warm. Notice the touch with socks, cloths, floor, etc.
Then ask this question: “How can I be grounded in me no matter what’s going around?” Do not command yourself to feel better immediately. Take a moment. Do not rush. Give space for the mind to ease a little. Do not judge. Give yourself a chance to feel different. Pause… and breathe. Little deeper than normal. Now ask the same question: “How can I be grounded?” Perhaps accepting what is going on and that it is not easy. You can take step by step. Reduce the expectations from you and others a bit. “What will help me to feel grounded?” Imagine yourself like a big tree, with firm roots going deep into the earth. No matter what is happening outside like the wind or rain, you are still grounded. Take few deep breaths. Pause and notice how you may be feeling now.

2. Be present with yourself and others
Are you present with yourself? Are you giving yourself enough attention? Or are you distracting yourself with all kinds of random thoughts or lost in thoughts about past and future? Bring yourself back to the moment. Notice the sound around you? Or see what is in front of you? Are you clearly seeing it or just thinking about it? Again, see it clearly. See the colours, shapes and size. Pause. Take a moment to reflect how it got there? See it with fresh eyes, as if you are seeing it for the first time. In the same way, apply that to yourself. Be present with yourself no matter what the past or future holds. The past is past and the future hasn’t happened yet. The future may not go as we plan exactly. Let go of the control. See, hear and feel clearly.
In the same way, how can you be present with others? With your loved ones? Your friends and family or even with difficult people? Let go of judgments again. Whenever I have difficulty accepting other people, I remind myself of my teacher’s advice: “It is more important to be kind than to be right”. When you are kind to people, they automatically feel your good intentions. The good vibe is infectious. You will get your return on investments. There is no need to take revenge or show attitudes which often lead to personal unhappiness and disappointment. Rather trust in kindness. If you persist with kindness, no matter what happens outside you will always have a peaceful mind. With a peaceful mind, we can help others.

3. Be centred and be yourself
We all know what is like to feel when we know someone talks behind us. At the time of Christmas and New Year, you will be spending social time and often without mindfulness, we can say things we do not mean. In the same way, others can say things they do not mean. But such actions happen. When those things happen, a festive occasion can turn to unhappy occasions. Often we play blame games. “They did this.” “They did that.” “We are right.” “They are wrong.” Even though it can be juicy to do that, they often lead to fear, doubt and unhappiness. Let’s not do this during this festive time. Let’s be mindful of our speech. Be centred. It means to be balanced. We do not say one thing and do something else. It decreases our capacity for trustworthiness. Of course, we are complicated beings. Things do not always go as planned. Therefore, do not be hard on yourself when things do not go as expected. Have flexibility of mind. It is okay for the change to happen. Change in fact can be good. It is natural. Focus on things important to you rather than worrying about hundred different things. Focus on one thing this festive occasion you would like to do and really live it. Do it without judgement, regret and expectations. Do it for the sake of doing it, for the excitement of it and living it. Before you know it, this moment will pass like every other moment. We can only enjoy it while it is there. That is the only thing we can control: how we live in the present moment. When we can learn to centre ourselves in the here and now, it becomes a source of joy and happiness.

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