It’s supposed to be a time to give thanks, to be joyful, and to be happy. In many cases, it is, or can be. In other cases, we carry on, as best we are able.
Unfortunately holiday fun can become a huge oxymoron in many households and families over the next few months with Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and all the associated gatherings, meals, overnights, travel, gift giving, drinking… you get the idea.
During the holidays our expectations can even be higher than day to day life as we yearn for more joy, happiness, peace, and love… what we often find inside ourselves is non-preferred thoughts, feelings, sensations and perhaps even physical reactions.
So what’s to be done? If anything?
This practice may help you navigate your inner and outer experience a bit differently this year. May you find the peace, joy and love within and around you during this time, and throughout the year ahead.
The first thing to recognize is that you’re not alone. Difficult and unwanted inner experience happens to all of us. And, much of our inner experience seems to be, or is, tied to our outer experience.
We also, as a species, tend to connect to the external triggers that seem survival and or deeper emotion oriented.
You might take a moment right now, to think about someone you’ll see or talk to this holiday season who triggers you regularly. Take a minute to recognize their affect on you, even when you’re not together. Go as deep as you can into the feeling and sensation as you recognize the memory of their impact is always with you, whether they are there or not.
As you explore this inner experience, recognize the intensity of the reality you’re experiencing right now. As with all humans… we all “carry” our reaction to people within us based on the impression they have on us.
Now switch gears, take a few minutes to think about a relative or friend you’ll likely see or connect with, over the next few months that will bring you a sense of joy, peace, acceptance, encouragement, gratitude, love, etc. If you’re having trouble thinking of someone that will help you feel and experience that sense, you might want to make some new plans for the holidays (sort of serious).
Once you have someone in mind, explore how you feel or what you sense in their presence. Again, notice how deeply you can feel and sense your inner experience, when they are not in your presence.
You might take a few minutes to internally travel between the two inner experiences you have of these two people that impact you in such different ways. Enjoy both the ease with which you can move from experience to experience and the depth and strength of experience attached to each person.
If this is the first time you’ve tried something like this, you may find it a bit disconcerting or difficult. Be patient and recognize that inner work is often avoided because we are raised to prioritize the physical or material world even though it is made clear in every religion that we are to prioritize the unseen, the Spiritual, God, the Holy Unseen…
In your brief practice, did you glimpse the Holy? Did you notice the Sacred Presence of God as you moved between inner experiences?
Our next question may be… so how does this help me with Thanksgiving dinner and cousin Freddie’s or aunt Edna’s comments? You may have an answer already, if not, you might consider this:
By doing this practice, you recognize that we are already carrying inner reactions within. In a “real life situation”, you can decide whether to react to them by attaching to your inner reaction that you associate with them… or, you can look for the preferred internal reaction you’re carrying attached to a the person you’re looking forward to seeing, for whatever reason.
Okay, it’s not quite that easy, but it’s close. Check out this insightful story which helps us gain greater perspective on what’s going on within and around us.
A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her cross to the other side.
The two monks glanced at one another because they had taken vows not to touch a woman.
Then, without a word, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and carried on his journey.
The younger monk couldn’t believe what had just happened. After rejoining his companion, he was speechless, and an hour passed without a word between them.
Two more hours passed, then three, finally the younger monk could contain himself any longer, and blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”
The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”
Would enjoy hearing about your inner experience with this practice. Peace be with you.