“ If you think that you are enlightened, go spend a week with your family”.
quote by Krishnamurti
The holiday season with Christmas, New year and (“Los Reyes” in the Spanish-speaking world) all together is the time in the year when families get together.
To some of you reading this, the idea of being with family for the holidays might bring a warm glow to your heart. For others, the idea of Christmas with family immediately brings a sinking feeling. Yet others feel that they would rather be anywhere else but feel obliged to attend: “after all, it’s my family. She might be a witch but she’s my mother. I just have to try and be stoic.”
As adults and as successful as we might feel in our professional lives, when we are with our family (siblings, parents) all of that seems to go out of the window and we find ourselves being treated and even acting like teenagers. Everyone just seems to press our buttons. We can even get angry with others and ourselves for our lack of control.
Some holiday wisdom:
Stop anticipating: If simply to think about being together with the family makes you feel irritation or a sense of impending doom – Stop! In the words of Samuel Clemens: “I have suffered many catastrophes in my life but most of them never happened”. Why suffer if you don’t need to? When you realize that you are lost in these types of thoughts, come back to your senses. Bring yourself back to the present moment. Notice your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. Then take three deep breaths. They key here is simply to bring your attention to the present. Don’t try to force the annoying thoughts away; simply bring your attention to the present.
Be happy not right: So often arguments arise when we simply have to be right; we simply have to win the argument. We find ourselves in autopilot-mode: winning becomes paramount but the bad feeling these types of arguments generate can ruin the rest of your holiday. Ask yourself, “Is it really so important to win the argument?”
Be Mindful: Find opportunities to rest your mind by just doing what is in front of you: be it setting the table, washing the dishes, playing with the children. Bring yourself fully to the senses for example, washing the dishes is replete with sensations, smells, textures, temperature.Your attitude should be: Just wash the dishes to wash the dishes.
Take care of yourself: In families we are often taught that taking care of ourselves is selfish. I prefer an attitude of enlightened selfishness. I must take care of myself if I am to take care of others. For example, if you have part abusive parents – hypercritical or always doing you down or humiliating you, remember you do not have to stay.
Get some fresh air everyday: Get out for a walk; get some natural sunlight and some fresh air. Disconnect in a positive way.
Remember the following prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can change and the wisdom to know the difference.” Trying to change someone else will drive you crazy. Change that which you can – your attitude, and actions. Remember that between the event and the response there is always a choice (if we are awake to it).
Be Grateful: Understand just how privileged and fortunate you are: to be alive, to be conscious, (two utterly amazing things) also to have food, shelter, water and safety. When we see the in the bigger picture, we realize that many “problems” are “small stuff”.
Be compassionate: The fact is that we all have in common the following: We all want to be happy and we all want to avoid suffering. This is our intention but we cock it up. It is the human condition. When we look at anger through the eyes of compassion then we see that behind anger is always fear. When we see an arrogant person through the eyes of compassion then we see that behind arrogance is insecurity. Everyone has their story.
Be kind: Make a special effort over the holidays to step out of your bubble of “the me- centred-universe” and help those that need it. It might be something as simple a conversation with someone like a neighbour who is alone over Christmas. Or people who are far from home. Think specially of those who have no family, shelter or enough food. The fact that you are alive and conscious means that the world is different to how it would have been without you. We all make a difference in this life (whether we want to or not). Make a point of going out and making the best difference that you can.
From Geoffrey, Rhea Kiira, Charlie, Mireya, Mariajo, Ishtar we wish you peace in your heart and health.