Practice Mindfulness While Socializing This Summer

As we start to gather in groups for the holiday weekend and beyond, make sure you're taking care of yourself.

Sweta Srivastava Vikram

For many, summers are sacred. After cold, hard winter days of spending many hours indoors, summer brings with it vitamin C, dresses, smoldering barbecues, picnics in the park, hiking in the woods, pool parties, and many more outdoor activities. You can hear beer cans opening and summer wines/cocktails flowing into glasses to the rhythm of Rumi’s lines.

In the COVID-world, life as we knew it has changed. Frustrations are still soaring. With states reopening in phases, and some actually pulling back due to spiking cases, the majority of us are practicing social distancing and wearing masks while meeting a small group of people outdoors.

Embracing this new norm, we decided to visit my cousin, Dr. Prashant Sinha, and his family in Connecticut. Prashant is a fearless dentist by day and an exquisite chef by night. He put together a beautiful spread on the grill: lamb, chicken, fish, veggies, and more. Right from the mint chutney to the freshly ground spices for the kebabs to the grilling, Prashant had every aspect under control with such poise. My husband thinks watching Prashant cook is meditation.

Watching him tirelessly spend hours in the kitchen, I asked Prashant if we could help. He replied, “Working in the kitchen is relaxing and stress-relieving for me.” When we all insisted that Prashant eat with us, he said, “Di, I will eat later. I like to feed people.”

There is no one or right way of socializing. Spend time getting to know yourself and evaluate what suits you.

Both Prashant and I enjoy socializing. We are passionate about serving incredible meals and drinks when we throw dinner parties. We both find cooking therapeutic and approach the culinary space as artists; we rarely follow recipes. We come from a family of incredible cooks, so feeding and feasting are in our DNA. But the difference is that Prashant, who is inspiringly-patient, likes to prepare everything from scratch at home: be it chutney or the marinade or an entire meal. And they are all delicious!! Prashant would rather have everyone congregate at this residence and shower them with mouth-watering food and drinks until wee hours in the morning. That’s what brings him joy.

While I love to entertain, I don’t like to spend my entire weekend in the kitchen. My idea of a good weekend means great company, memorable activity, invigorating conversations, and a delicious meal. Many of our friends join us for hikes or a visit to the museum or for wine tastings or to try out new restaurants in the City over the weekend. And when we do a dinner party at home, I cook a few items and cater other items.

Eating seasonal, organic, freshly prepared meals while honoring Ayurvedic food combining is integral to my family’s daily lifestyle because I follow the tenets of Ayurveda. If I have to do the same for 6-20 people for a dinner party, which means spending hours planning the menu, figuring out food incompatibilities, buying groceries, cooking, cleaning…I feel unsettled.

Despite being an extrovert, I like pauses between people and silence on a daily basis. Weekends are sacred for my workouts and hobbies because I am not limited by time constraints. Movement is my therapy. Movement brings me joy. Movement adds a flavor to my creativity. Movement is what anchors me. Reading is what nourishes every cell in my body. If I am stuck in the kitchen cooking all day for a party, I will be a cranky host at the end of the day. Where is my me-time on the weekend?

My point: There is no one or right way of socializing. Spend time getting to know yourself and evaluate what suits you. Don’t take on performance pressures because you have hand-me-down preconceived notions about socializing. Be true to yourself and those around you.

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”

Sweta Srivastava Vikram is an international speaker, best-selling author of 12 books, and Ayurveda and mindset coach is a wellness columnist for SEEMA and committed to helping people thrive on their own terms. As a trusted source on health and wellness, most recently appearing on NBC and Radio Lifeforce, Sweta has dedicated her career to writing about and teaching a more holistic approach to creativity, productivity, health, and nutrition. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and other publications across nine countries. Sweta is a trained yogi and certified Ayurveda health coach and holds a Master’s in Strategic Communications from Columbia University. Voted as “One of the Most Influential Asians of Our Times” and winner of the “Voices of the Year” award (past recipients have been Chelsea Clinton), she lives in NYC with her husband.

DISCLAIMER: Information in this article is presented for the sole purpose of imparting education on Ayurveda and mindfulness and the information isn’t intended to diagnose, treat, mitigate, cure, or prevent any disease. If you have a medical condition, or are pregnant or lactating, please consult a health professional. Before making changes to your diet or lifestyle, it is recommended that you speak with your physician.