Category Archives: spiritual exercises

How to Get the Most out of Gift-Giving

Most of us go into the holidays with the best of intentions. We want to really connect with our friends and family and have a wonderful time. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that buying gifts is an obligation, a duty, or even a burden.

Regardless of your choice to give or not give gifts, it’s important to do it mindfully. What makes you feel good? Most true to yourself?

If you decide to give gifts, make a practice of thinking of each gift purchase as a celebration of the beauty of the recipient and your relationship with that person. It’s a much different giving experience than mindlessly buying and consuming out of obligation.

When spent mindfully, money is a spiritual asset. When you spend gladly, with love and joy in your heart, you bring the money and love back to you tenfold. Here are some mindful buying tips for the holidays, to help you connect with your best, generous, and joyful self.

Personal Touch

Does it make sense to buy a gift card to Amazon? It’s not a super personal gift, unless you know the person really could use the gift card and loves shopping on Amazon (in which case, it would bring her great joy). But if you’re buying it because it’s the “easy” thing, you might instead consider making something for that person, something you know she would really love. What about brownies with her favorite candy in them, or a pair of earrings in her favorite color? Gifts made with the hands and infused with energy of the heart vibrate at a different level than a more generic gift.

Mindful gift-giving brings joy to you and the recipient.
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Really paying attention to what people say they want or need, in passing conversation, is a wonderful way to gather gift ideas. For example, your friend comments that she needs a solution for an inconvenience she has been complaining about, such as an easier way to look at the GPS in her car. So you buy her a dash-mounted or mirror-mounted cell-phone holder. She’s thrilled because you have solved a problem for her, and because you paid attention to her and her needs.

Maybe your aunt has not had time to find that perfect pillow for the new couch. Or the pillow would bring her great joy and comfort, but she doesn’t feel like she has the money to spend on it. Rather than thinking in terms of, “I have a $50 minimum I have to spend,” make your gift-buying decisions about thoughtfulness. If you spend the time to find the pillow in the exact shade of blue she’s looking for, with just the right amount of “squish,” but it costs only $20, you’ve more than spent your minimum. You’ve spent time and energy. You were thoughtful.


If you decide a gift card to Target is the best gift, perhaps because it is easier for you or because you know that person will enjoy it, buy the card with grace and a blessing. Spend gladly, with joy in your heart, because you love and appreciate that person. It makes the buying experience magical rather than something you do by rote.

When you buy each gift this year, send the money out into the world with love and light. You’ll be less stressed and feel more peace and joy. Mindful gift-giving is a powerful spiritual practice.

To learn more about the spirituality of money and the power of manifestation, I recommend the bookCreating Money: Attracting Abundance, by Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer.

Bring Joy into the Holiday Season with Sensory Awareness

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I find it essential to really tune in to what I am experiencing in the moment. It’s important to me to really connect with the people I choose to be with. If I can’t—and find myself spacing out or keeping things on the surface level—that’s OK, too. Practicing neutrality toward myself and my feelings helps me stay in self-love and acceptance.

But when I can really connect, these moments help me feel loved and loving. Though I try to practice it all of the time, it’s even more important during the holidays, as people are voluntarily creating a stressed out, anxious, and hurried environment. I make it a point to fully experience the rich opportunities within my reach and create meaningful holiday moments.

Sensory awareness practice is the discipline of really tuning into something, during those small and everyday moments, to the point that it becomes an exquisite experience. During the holidays, this can be as simple as focusing on a cozy scent, or meditating on a seasonal sound.

Here are some ideas for bringing sensory awareness practice into your holidays:

Musical Event

If you go to an event where there is singing or music over the holidays, instead of letting the experience simply flow over you, try to really hone in on the melody of one instrument, or focus on the sound of one person’s voice in the choir. Notice how the sound resonates in your chest or through the floor in your feet. This will help you tune into the exquisite nature of the sound and make it a much deeper sensory experience.


One of the reasons I love cooking so much is because it is a very sensory experience. If you bake holiday treats or cook meals for the holidays, you have the opportunity to really get in touch with your senses in terms of the texture of food and the smell of the food you are preparing. Tune into the sound of different foods when you are chopping them and biting into them. As you let yourself tune into these small moments, they become richer and more meaningful.

Greeting Loved Ones

Ironically, often the reason we are rushing around during the holidays is because we want to make the holidays joyful for the people we love. Although our intentions are good, urgency and hurry work against deep connection with others.

One example of an exquisite sensory opportunity we often miss out on during the holidays is fully experiencing loved ones when greeting them upon arrival. When you first see someone you haven’t seen in awhile, or when you are in the company of someone you are really happy to spend time with, allow yourself to take in the whole person. Fully experience how you feel, being with them, in the moment.

Before you open the door to greet a guest, or before you knock on their door to be greeted, take 30 seconds to prepare yourself to really take in the energy of that person. Prepare yourself to connect with how she looks, what her smile is like, the feel of her skin or clothing as you hug her. Take pleasure in her company. Be in the moment.

There are many ways to bring sensory awareness practice into your holiday season, which can bring you back from the hustle and bustle into your highest self. I would love to hear about your ideas and experiences. Please feel free to share them in the comments.

Photo courtesy of FreeFoto