Mindfulness Activity #49
Hygge Mindfulness Practice
Denmark consistently ranks as one of the happiest places for people to live. How can this be true when it is dark and cold for much of the time? There is an essential part of the Danish cultural identity referred to as Hygge (pronounced hoo-geh). There really is no American translation for this word, but it can be compared to coziness or taking pleasure in the presence of gentle, soothing things. Wikipedia defines this term as “a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment.” Hygge is not just a brief escape, it is a lifestyle practice. One writer commented that what freedom is to American culture, hygge is to Danes.
Hygge has to do with the idea of savoring the simple everyday things in life that bring comfort or joy. Candles and a warm blanket on a chilly day, or feeling the sun on your face on a warm day, eating comforting food or enjoying a sweet…all of these can be considered hygge. This way of being also incorporates a philosophy of connectedness to others. So, cooking together, playing a game, even enjoying a phone call with a friend can be considered hygge.
I think there is a lot that we can learn about self-isolation from Danish culture. If we truly accepted our circumstances now, despite inconveniences, there is opportunity for hunkering down, slowing down, and enjoying small things like a cup of hot chocolate or tea.
Today’s mindfulness practice will ask you to use your imagination to see yourself in your ideal hygge scene. Imagine a memory of a time when you have felt connected, content and cozy. Or imagine yourself in a new scene that you create. Maybe you can imagine being in front of a crackling fire with a cup of cocoa or imagine a visit with someone that is effortless and comforting. Cue up this clip of Danish music as your timer and spend about five minutes experiencing virtual hygge. If you get distracted, simply try to bring yourself back to an image of yourself in a simple, pleasant, cozy activity.
When you are done, note the feelings this imaginal five minute break created for you. Consider how you can create this experience in reality. What can you do today to enjoy some time doing something simple and soothing.
I wish you hygge today!
FYI New Yorker article on the concept of Hygge