Have you ever found yourself scratching an itch but not remembering feeling the itch itself in the first place? Or suddenly recognized that you're intensely hungry? Or noticed that you've got some food in your mouth that you don't recall choosing to eat?
When we sit in meditation, we ask ourselves to become more aware of our automaticity. When things occur, rather than reacting, we try to take a moment to understand the event itself and recognize our reaction. From there, any action we take is a conscious and volitional one, rather than a thoughtless reflex. ]
When we are aware of an unpleasant event, we have two choices: the first is to react mindfully to resolve the issue by making a conscious choice, rather than reacting without control. The second choice is to sit with the challenge, to direct all our energy and attention into that difficulty. Over time, it will change. Frequently it will resolve itself without any action on our part.
By cultivating this awareness in our formal sitting practice, we hope to make use of this skill of observing and choosing in our daily life.
It may be the case that the holiday season is not a particularly happy one for you. Maybe you have a relationship that causes you difficulty, or you feel frustrated and insecure about the amount of money and time that seems to flow so freely at this time of year. And certainly we all feel some pressure for things to be just perfect for everyone.
I want to encourage you to take a few moments to step back and be observant in the coming days. Try to see things as they are, rather than how you think they should be or how they've been before. And rather than reacting, give yourself some space to make more skillful choices. Are there stressors that you can limit your exposure to? (For me, this means simplifying my social schedule. I love my friends so much, but I feel drained after too many hours out of the house.) Maybe you have held some traditions that no longer serve you. Maybe it's time to let them go. Look at this season and try to see it as if you've never seen it before.
I hope that you find the kindness and love that your community has to offer. I wish you peace and fulfillment, and implore you to make time and space for self care and compassion. (I can't recommend highly enough these meditations on self compassion. If you are feeling a difficult emotion that's very intense for you, please give yourself 15 minutes and try this one. *warning: you may cry.)
A few photos of our season:
As always, thinking of you and yours.
all my love.