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How to have a Mindful Christmas – A Few Tips from Sas Petherick

12.04.16

A couple of month’s ago, a newsletter appeared in my Inbox, I have no idea how, I must have signed up for it at some point, but I don’t remember when.  When I read it, it really resonated and made so much sense, I decided to get in touch with it’s author, Sas Petherick and ask if she would like to be a guest on the blog.  And I’m thrilled because not only did she agree, but Sas has also very kindly provided some great advice on ways to be mindful at Christmas.

So without further ado, say hello to Sas:

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Can you tell me a little bit about what you do?

“I’m a coach and I help people cultivate self-belief. My work is about helping you come home to yourself.

I believe one of the reasons we can feel lost or directionless in our lives is because we are trying to follow someone else’s map. We stop listening to ourselves and we look to everyone else for the answers. It can seem like everyone else has this life thing figured out, particularly when we are looking through the window of social media.

When you listen to yourself, trust your own opinions and preferences, you can begin to accept all the parts of you. This makes it so much easier to find your own answers and stop trying to keep everyone else happy.

Its a profound process. But we often avoid looking too deeply inside, becasue we’re afraid of what we might find. Having a trusted, experienced, qualified person in your corner, can make all the difference.”

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How did you end up becoming a coach, or is it something you have always done?

“Twelve months before I found coaching, I was spending a lot of hours in Boardrooms pretending to care about what was going on.

I had the six-figure corporate job I’d spent almost two decades working toward, but inside I was sad and scared all the time. I was drinking a lot and I couldn’t sleep. I was also newly married and (after a horrible divorce years earlier) convinced I was going to do or say something that would make my husband leave me. It was when I started scheduling time in my calendar to go and cry in the loo, that I realised I might not be okay.

After I resigned, I spent three months recovering from burnout during which, my ambition for corporate stardom evaporated. I knew I wanted to do something more meaningful. My favourite part of that work had been talking with my colleagues – the engineers, scientists and technologists who for some reason, told me their secrets and fears and dreams and ideas. Hearing their stories was such a privilege and it was when I felt most alive.

I spent years immersed in training, including gaining an MA in Coaching and Mentoring. Over the last six years I have slowly built my coaching practice into a full-time business.”

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How does your job shape your life?

“I work from my home office and coach with people all over the world. I also lead retreats each year in the US and here in the UK. The freedom and autonomy I have feels increasingly important as I get too old and cranky to work for anyone else!

But perhaps more than this, my work feels like a calling (if thats not too grand). Through my own learning and self-reflection I just feel better equipped for adulthood. Its no small wonder to me that I have reached a quiet peaceful contentment that helps me navigate through the muck and bullets of real life.

Its incredibly fulfilling to help others find this for themselves.”

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What can you offer to the people you work with?

“I offer a safe space for you to explore the experiences that form your story, and how these threads are woven into the wider narrative patterns of your life.

Feeling seen and heard is transformative when something in your life is not working, but you aren’t sure how to change it.

Coaching with me is about learning to trust, know and accept your whole self (even those messy, shameful, guilty parts that you don’t like to look at). You’ll find you have more resilience, courage and compassion for yourself that you might have thought.”

You write a newsletter each month called ‘My Mindful Year’ – how does mindfulness help?

“When it comes to mindfulness, I’m not a traditionalist – so this is not a ‘chew on a raisin for 10 minutes’ kind of thing!

But I have found that non-judgemental awareness is the first step to any internal change. When we start to notice what we are thinking, feeling, doing and saying, we can get some deep insight into what is happening in our lives.

Curiosity is a massive part of my work – I’m fascinated by why we do what we do. So in my monthly newsletter I share my own learning and offer ways that you can reflect on what is happening for you.

There is also a fabulous community of Instagrammers sharing their mindful moments at #mymindfulyear.”

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Photos all provided by Sas Petherick

What top tips can you give for a mindful Christmas?

“Family expectations, undercooked turkey and awkward questions about exactly what you do in your job on the internet by drunk Aunty Pam. The reality of Christmas for most of us, is very far away from the John Lewis ad. Sometimes its a small unpleasant blip in an otherwise enjoyable day, but for some there is real dread or resentment leading up to the holidays.

It IS possible to have a mindful Christmas, where you can be present to your experience and act from a conscious, accountable state. Let’s look at three big sources of tension so you can consider how you want to be, and what you want to do.

Mindful gift giving:

The whole point of giving is to let someone know what they mean to you – the gift is just the representation of the energy you are offering. The true gift is how you make someone feel.

Your gift may not need to involve actual shopping – instead you could give a lesson for something they are excited by (painting, improv, yoga, how to be a football referee, stool making), or a personal voucher where you offer your skills in gardening, organising, using the bubble thing to create a gallery wall.

Mindful spending:

If you do want to buy ‘things’ introduce your mindful awareness before you go shopping:
Be clear about how much you have available to spend (it won’t be an unlimited amount – so what is your number?).
Make a list of people you could buy presents for.
Notice any feelings of resentment or obligation as you make your list.
You are in choice so what do you want to do?

You could agree with your family to do a Secret Santa where everyone draws a name and buys for one person, or you just buy presents for the kids. Have the slightly awkward conversation before the big day so everyone can relax.

Mindful feasting:

Share the load – get everyone to bring one dish and allow the non-culinary folks to play their part in the clean-up.

One of the best feasts I ever ate was an International Orphans Christmas about 10 years ago in a small London flat. We each brought a dish from our home country. Alongside an Australian BBQ, we had a Sri Lankan Dhal Curry, Indian Balti, and Beef Wellington! We had an insanely good chocolate dessert of Pavé from the resident Brazilian and I brought a kiwifruit Pavlova from New Zealand.

Bonus: Play Dysfunctional family bingo!

Never doubt the power of your sense of humour to navigate awkward family encounters. Make a list of all possible nightmarish encounters: from Uncle Brexit, to the epic sugar induced tantrum of the nephews, undercooked turkey, the questioning of climate change, Gran getting sloppy drunk.

Like Bingo, just mark off your squares as each becomes your horrific reality. The best fun is when you co-opt another family member to play.”

Thank you so much Sas for giving an insight in to what you do, and for your tips on a mindful Christmas, such brilliant advice!

You can find Sas here:

Have a great week.

Emma x

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