Thursday, February 29, 2024 Feb 29, 2024
44° F Dallas, TX
Health & Wellness

Keep Your Zen Up This Holiday Season

Drinking is one way to get through a weekend with the in-laws. Mindfulness is another.
By Allison Hatfield |
Daniel Sunshine Portrait
Owen Jones

Daniel Sunshine has a present for you. In fact, the man with an aptronym has two: the gifts of gratitude and calm. As the director of mindfulness at Dallas Yoga Center, his job is to help people learn to live well and happily even while circumstances conspire against them.

Mindfulness as a practice is on the verge of a mainstream phenomenon, Sunshine says. What was once relegated to the woo-woo corners of the world is now a business model, with places like Dallas Yoga Center in Oak Lawn, The Refuge in Deep Ellum, and Dallas Meditation in Carrollton and Plano bringing a more palatable, science-based approach to the general public. “Once science got involved, mindfulness could no longer be categorized as weird or unproven or religious,” Sunshine says. It’s meditation for the masses, and the time has never been more right.

When Sunshine leads mindfulness workshops, he often asks for a show of hands: “How many people have been told to calm down?” Hands shoot up. Then he asks: “How many people have been taught how?” Hands drop down. “Stress is one of the biggest killers of life satisfaction,” he says. “The modern world is a pressure cooker. We are asked for uber productivity, and we are constantly bombarded with new stressors. Mindfulness practices teach you to calm down.”

They also teach you to assess your physical sensations and thoughts before you act or react. If you can take a breath before you speak or move, you can alter your perspective and experiences. “In order to connect with our emotions, we need to be clear enough to feel them,” Sunshine says. “Once you are aware of the emotions, you can choose how to respond.”

The Dallas Yoga Center offers drop-in mindfulness and meditation classes four days a week. It also hosts workshops related to stress reduction, pain management, parenting, and more. Sunshine has led free meditation events at Klyde Warren Park and the Dallas Museum of Art. In early November, Dallas Yoga Center senior mindfulness instructor Cheryl King led a two-hour workshop focused on communication with relatives, mindful eating, and mindful shopping. In other words, she’s helping you get to 2020 without feeling fat, going broke, or telling off your brother.

A Good Mind, Too

From weeks before the Turkey Trot until the last firework flames out over Reunion Tower, this time of year can feel like an undoing. Get grounded with these local mindfulness retreats.

Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House

Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House
Rooted in the spiritual exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola, Montserrat hosts two- and three-day silent retreats at its 30-acre campus on the shores of Lewisville Lake—but you don’t have to be Catholic to participate. With optional spiritual direction and plenty of time for quiet walks and self-reflection, “these retreats are for anyone who needs to escape a busy life,” says administrator Joelle Brinkley.
Mark your calendar: November 14–17. Although many of the retreats are aimed at the individual, this weekend you can check in for a couple’s retreat led by Fr. Roy Joseph. Forget about meal prep, carpool, and all the holiday shopping ahead.

Retreat in the Pines

Retreat in the Pines
Billed as a slumber party with yoga, wine, and laughter, an all-inclusive weekend at Retreat in the Pines, just outside of Mineola, Texas, may be the answer to a question you haven’t asked yet (e.g., How am I ever going to survive the next couple of months?). In true slumber party fashion, accommodations are shared, connection is encouraged, and you’re almost guaranteed to make a new best friend.
Mark your calendar: November 22–24. Dedicate the weekend before Thanksgiving to mindfulness, meditation, and a complete digital detox so you can be fully present for the holiday.

Siddhayatan Tirth

Siddhayatan Tirth
Acharya Shree Yogeesh has taught love and compassion for more than 45 years. In 2008, he founded Siddhayatan Tirth, an ashram and monastery on 250 acres in Windom, Texas. The center hosts guests for three- and seven-day retreats that focus on stress relief, healing from PTSD, transforming anger, meditation, and more. You can book a room anytime for DIY reflection and relaxation sans wifi.
Mark your calendar: December 30–January 1. A New Year’s retreat complete with mantras and homemade chai will help you glide into 2020 feeling ready to handle anything—even an onslaught of presidential campaigning.

Mastermind Meditation
Dorsey Standish left her corporate job at Texas Instruments to share her passion for research-backed, brain-health-driven mindfulness techniques. She regularly leads mindfulness classes and workshops throughout Dallas. “I talk about how your brain literally changes with these practices,” Standish says. “That excites people enough and they get a taste and continue on.”
Mark your calendar: January 18 (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and 19 (9 a.m. to noon). There’s no better place to learn to cultivate gratitude than downtown’s Thanks-Giving Square. Take some time to get a glimpse at how Zen your new year could be.

Dhamma Siri

Dhamma Siri
The Kaufman, Texas, retreat offers a 10-day introduction to Vipassana meditation, which includes nine days of silence and emphasizes mindful breathing (each night in place of a meal) and giving up worldly distractions (sleeping in, your phone). We’re not fooling when we say it sounds torturous. One attendee wrote, “This course is not for you if you are looking for comfort,” but she admits it was life changing. We know someone who’s been twice.
Mark your calendar: For sometime in 2020. Course registration opens approximately six months prior, and the next 10-day retreats, both in December, already have waitlists.

Related Articles

Local News

AG Ken Paxton Has Sued the State Fair of Texas

The Texas Attorney General alleges that the State Fair violated the law by denying off-duty police offers carrying firearms entry to the fair.
Health Systems

The 29 Nurses Who Stood Up to Parkland Health and Won

The Dallas County safety net health system sued the nurses to obtain thousands of dollars after the nurses didn't fulfill their full contract.
Theater & Dance

The Bishop Arts Theatre Center Takes on Another New York Times Bestseller

The Oak Cliff theater's annual one-act festival will transform author Heather McGhee's The Sum of Us into six plays that show us we have more in common than we think.
By Brett Grega