Nollaig na mBan, also known as Women’s Christmas or Little Christmas, is a unique Irish tradition celebrated on January 6th each year. The term “Nollaig na mBan” translates to “Women’s Christmas” in English.

While the celebration of Nollaig na mBan has evolved over the years, its essence remains centred around acknowledging and honouring the contributions of women. In modern times, it has become a day for women to come together, either in person or virtually, to celebrate their achievements, support one another, and appreciate the bond of sisterhood.

Many women use this day as an occasion to enjoy a meal together, attend events, or simply spend quality time with friends and family. Some women’s groups organise special gatherings or activities, and it is not uncommon for women to receive small tokens of appreciation on Nollaig na mBan.

The day also carries a symbolic significance, representing a moment for women to reflect on the past year and set intentions for the one ahead. It is a time to celebrate the strength, resilience, and contributions of women in various aspects of life, recognising the diverse roles they play within families, communities, and society at large.

While the celebration may have originated in Ireland, its themes of recognition and appreciation for women’s contributions resonate globally, making it a day that transcends cultural boundaries.

This blog extends the intentions and celebrations of today, Nollaig na mBan through a Loving Kindness Meditation, embracing and celebrating women and acknowledging the remarkable achievements of some of the most influential women in the fields of mindfulness and compassion.

Significant Contributors to Mindfulness and Compassion

Brené Brown

A distinguished researcher, storyteller, and author, Brené Brown has made significant contributions in exploring vulnerability, shame, and courage. Through compelling TED Talks and best-selling books like The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly, she has inspired millions, advocating for authentic living and nurturing resilience amid vulnerability.

The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown | TED (youtube.com)

Christina Feldman

Christina is a leading figure in mindfulness and meditation, co-founded Gaia House retreat centre in the UK. Her teachings, blending traditional Buddhist practices and modern psychology, promote mindfulness integration for compassion and wisdom, impacting a diverse global audience.

Florence Meleo-Meyer

A senior teacher and director of Oasis Institute for Mindfulness-Based Professional Education and Training at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Florence Meleo-Meyer has contributed to the development and dissemination of mindfulness programmes.

Kristin Neff

A pioneer in the field of self-compassion, Kristin Neff’s work has been crucial in integrating self-compassion practices into mindfulness. She is a professor, author, and a leading advocate for the importance of self-kindness.

Marsha M. Linehan

Marsha Linehan is the creator of Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), a form of cognitive-behavioural therapy that incorporates mindfulness and acceptance strategies. DBT is widely used, especially in the treatment of borderline personality disorder.

Mary Oliver

Renowned for her poetic mastery, Mary Oliver seamlessly wove nature’s wonders into verses that resonate with mindfulness. Her eloquent words painted vivid landscapes, inviting readers to embrace introspection. Oliver’s poetry, a tapestry of contemplation and awe, continues to inspire profound connections with the world and oneself. Her poems include, The Summer Day, Wild Geese and The Journey.

Melanie Fennell

Melanie Fennell stands out as a pioneering force in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). Her influential leadership at Oxford University involved spearheading programmes such as the Diploma in Cognitive Therapy and Masters in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. Recognised as the “Most Influential Female UK Cognitive Therapist” in 2002, her publications include Overcoming Low Self-Esteem.

Pema Chödrön

A Tibetan Buddhist nun, author, and teacher, Pema Chödrön is known for her teachings on mindfulness, compassion, and working with difficult emotions.

Rhonda Magee

A law professor and mindfulness teacher, Rhonda Magee focuses on the intersection of mindfulness and social justice. Her work emphasises the role of mindfulness in promoting compassion and understanding.

Roshi Joan Halifax

A Zen Buddhist roshi, anthropologist, and author, Joan Halifax has been instrumental in bridging mindfulness with social and environmental activism. Her work explores the ethical dimensions of compassion and mindfulness.

Joan Halifax: Compassion and the true meaning of empathy (youtube.com)

Ruth King

An advocate in the intersection of mindfulness and racial awareness, Ruth King has been an advocate in addressing diversity and inclusion within the mindfulness community. She is an author and mindfulness teacher.

Sharon Salzberg

Co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society, Sharon Salzberg is a prominent figure in the mindfulness community. Her work has focused on loving-kindness meditation, and she is an accomplished author and teacher.

Sr Stanislaus Kennedy

Sr. Stan, a member of the Religious Sisters of Charity, is a dedicated social innovator in Ireland. Renowned for founding organisations like Focus Ireland and the Immigrant Council, she also established The Sanctuary, a mindfulness and spirituality centre in Dublin. Sr. Stan is a prolific author with notable works such as Gardening for the Soul and Now is the Time, reflecting her commitment to social issues and mindfulness.

Susan Kaiser Greenland

Having previously worked as a high-powered lawyer and played a pivotal role in founding the Inner Kids Foundation, Susan Kaiser Greenland encountered mindfulness amidst a family health crisis. She ardently promotes its transformative effects on overall well-being.

Sylvia Boorstein

A founding teacher of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Sylvia Boorstein is a respected author and teacher known for her accessible and humorous approach to mindfulness and compassion. Her teachings often focus on the practical application of mindfulness in daily life.

Tara Brach

A renowned meditation teacher, psychologist, and author. Tara Brach has been influential in bringing mindfulness and self-compassion to a wide audience through her teachings, podcasts, and books.

Loving Kindness Practice

Dedicated to the impactful teachers and therapists I’ve had the pleasure of meeting; this Loving Kindness Practice holds gratitude for their profound influence and presence.

Adie, Carmel, Caroline, Deirdre, Evelyn, Mary, Rosemarie
Bernadette, Catherine, Mai, Margaret, Marie, Martina, Martina, Sheila
Joan, Norma, Ruth, Pauline, Annette, Catherine, Christina, Clodagh, Ger, Geraldine, Joyce, Karen, Marie, Marina, Martha, Niamh, Phil, and so many more.

The Loving Kindness Practice

Let’s embark on a loving-kindness meditation to celebrate women, embracing the essence of compassion, strength, and interconnectedness. Find a comfortable seated position, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths to settle into the present moment.

  1. Begin with Self-Love: Bring your awareness to yourself. Inhale deeply, exhaling any tension or self-doubt. As you breathe, envelop yourself in a sphere of loving-kindness. Repeat silently or aloud:”May I be filled with love and kindness. May I be well, happy, and at peace.
  2. Extend to a Beloved Woman: Visualise a woman you deeply care about. It could be a friend, family member, or mentor. Envision her surrounded by a warm, radiant light. Send forth your wishes:”May [her name] be filled with love and kindness. May [she] be well, happy, and at peace.”
  3. Expand to Acquaintances: Picture the faces of women you know, those whose paths cross with yours. Extend your wishes to them:
    May all women I know be filled with love and kindness. May they be well, happy, and at peace.
  4. Extend to All Women: Expand your focus to encompass all women, irrespective of boundaries or differences. Envision a collective tapestry of strength and compassion:
    May all women in the world be filled with love and kindness. May they be well, happy, and at peace.
  5. Embrace the Strength of Sisterhood: Feel the interconnectedness of women around the globe. Imagine a vast network of support and understanding:
    May the strength of sisterhood unite us all. May we uplift each other with love and kindness. May we be well, happy, and at peace.
  6. Radiate Loving-Kindness Outward: Expand the sphere of your loving-kindness beyond women to include all beings:
    May all beings, without exception, be filled with love and kindness. May they be well, happy, and at peace.
  7. Conclude with Gratitude: Gradually return your awareness to the present moment. Open your eyes with a sense of gratitude for the interconnected web of love and compassion you’ve woven.

May this loving-kindness meditation for women bring a sense of warmth, strength, and unity to your heart and the hearts of all women around the world.