Sunday, December 23, 2012

Being Present for the Holidays

The holidays can be a happy time, but often they become a difficult time. We may find that our ability to be present is compromised by super-charged emotions and busy minds. Hence, we miss the opportunity to fully appreciate a little time off from work and being close to loved ones.

The storylines that hold us back from being present grow strong at this time of year. Often those storylines are about disappointment. The holidays are a time of high expectation. You don't want to end up feeling like a kid who opened all of his presents and didn't get the thing he really wanted.

The "touch and go" technique, which I've blogged about before, is the perfect practice for the holidays. When your uncle is about to make a crazy political statement at dinner, or you're annoyed by
the long line at the grocery store, or even if you didn't get a pony for Christmas, you can give this a try and cut through the chatter in your head.

As soon as you notice that unease appear in your mind, touch it. See what it is. Don't ponder it for too long. As soon as you've tasted it, let it go. It might be the same thing you do during your meditation practice, only now you are practicing it in daily life.

Another thing you can try is extending your heart to others. "Loving kindness" practice entails simply extending warm wishes to those around you. When you see your friends and family this holiday, or simply when you are paying for your groceries, you could extend your heart to the person in front of you and say in your mind something like, "may you enjoy happiness and the root of happiness, may you be free from suffering and the root of suffering." Hold that feeling in your heart. Let it swell. Notice the emotion. The richness of the holidays is pretty much personified by this feeling.

Maybe you'll find yourself wrapped up in a storyline about how Christmas isn't the way it used to be, or your uncle's radical political views, or that sale you want to hit on December 26th. But we could use the holidays to practice being present through all of these mental and emotional challenges. If you can stay present during the holidays, you are well on your way to clicking in and being present when you need to.

No comments:

Post a Comment