The outside natural light has less presence these days, as we return to standard time, and while times of celebration such as Diwali, Hanukkah and Christmas and others may emphasize light, using candles or electric strands of lights, for some people this time of year may not be “light”, nor light-filled.
Let’s pause for a few seconds. Allow yourself to remain still, exhaling with a big sigh and then breathing deeply in and out for a few breaths.
After this brief pause, noticing the body, and the sensations of the level of energy, the type of thinking, any emotions which may be present and the feelings of stress and pressure related to the weight of responsibilities, the weight of expectations, the weight of being or not being with family and friends during this time of holiday celebration.
It IS a lot. Inundated by a lot of stuff.
While the marketing messages in the media are upbeat and full of promises, all the images are full of smiles and laughter, and the script alludes to the joy of the season and being together, it may be, that for you, what comes to mind is mixed feelings about all that hoopla. For you, you may think it’s all “b.s.”, wishing it would all go away…to “screw off” or questioning, “what joy?”, or, perhaps acknowledging, “I don’t have any family (or none that I want to be with…”).
This is the dilemma of this “joyful time of the year”. It may not be so joyful.
Today’s blog is brought to you by crucial “C” words: curiosity, compassion and connection.
Through the guidance of teachers and mentors I’ve had, I’ve learned to ask myself some questions when I start to feel overwhelmed by it all, such as: “What do I notice in my body as a result of the thinking I’m having?”, and “What can I do?”.
I think of this process as the barometer or the yellow caution light, the sensations in my body informing me; I have some emotions arising, and I’m about to do or say something (which may not be very skillful).
Once noticed, then taking the responsibility as mine, to challenge that thinking and bringing in a shift in my mindset. Embracing the understanding that no one else is responsible for my joy. I become curious about what’s behind the mood.
As soon as I ask questions, assuming responsibility for my own way of being, I feel a shift in the tightness in my body, a loosening, and an opening to exploring what I can do, where I have control in the situation.
Where, in all that you have to do in this next month, are you able to challenge the thinking and perhaps questioning, inviting curiosity about the situation?
Time for another break to offer a bit of compassion to yourself:
- Sitting down, and with feet planted on the floor, place your right hand against the ribs on the left side of your body, with your fingers tucked under your arm and palm of hand over heart area. Place left hand on your right shoulder.
- Breathing in through your nose, feel the warmth of the hug you are giving yourself. You may want to close your eyes and linger in this kind embrace. Exhaling through the mouth, giving attention to the shoulders, allowing a release to lower the shoulders. Repeating the slow, deep, inhale and exhaling a few more times.
- This practice of taking care of yourself means you truly care for others, because, in order to be there for others, you need to be there first for yourself. It’s actualizing the story of being on a plane and when the oxygen mask drops down, the chances for a greater survival for all, occur when first, you place the oxygen mask on yourself, so you have the capacity to care for the others.
Self compassion allows you to be a friend to yourself, compassionate about the abundance that you may be dealing with in life.
- Closing your eyes for a minute, to regroup, to regain your grounded-ness.
- Feeling the big overwhelm, the ton of demands and pressures.
- Keep breathing in and out.
- Telling yourself, “This is huge! Wow! There are so many expectations!”
- Keep breathing in and out.
- Hugging yourself, like described earlier, or simply holding your own hand.
- Reminding yourself that every human being has overwhelm at some point.
- Reminding yourself that it won’t last. “This too shall pass.”
- Keep breathing in and out.
Simply the act of offering compassion to yourself sustains and nurtures you to have the energy to give well to others.
Finally, the connection we have with others is within us. Right from our beginning. And sometimes the connections we have may be easy and some may not be so easy. And sometimes, we may realize that the best connection, is maintained from a distance, rather than a proximity. And so, we have the opportunity to be creative about how we will set boundaries, and how some connections may look different than others.
I think understanding we are connected through a phenomenon called entanglement is a super way to appreciate how some connections are more tangled than others. Entanglement is the term in physics that tells us that once something begins as a whole, even though it is separated physically by many miles, energetically everything is connected.
One way this may be felt might be through gratitude, prayer, loving thoughts or meditation we offer to others, for their well-being.
- Closing your eyes, breathing in and out, bring to mind someone you care deeply for and offer gratitude for them.
- Continuing to breathe in and out, bring to mind someone you don’t know well, (but you see in a store, delivering mail, transferring the recycling weekly…) and offer gratitude for them.
- Continuing to breathe in and out, bring to mind many more people or animals you know or don’t know and offer them gratitude.
- In this moment, I bring you to mind, and I offer gratitude for you.
- Breathing in and out, let go of this mindful pause.
Regardless of where your struggle may originate; from the sound surround of pressure to buy and give/gift, being with others (who you may find challenging to be with), or from the silence of being lonely or alone, it is possible to bring in the crucial “C” words of curiosity, compassion and connection, acknowledging the complexity of being a human in all that life delivers, and supporting yourself on the journey.
May you be well.