Mindfully waltzing with the holidays: Part 1 – Experiencing Thanksgiving independent of the holiday season
Bringing Mindfulness to the Changing Seasons
November 2014 Newsletter
Mindfully waltzing with the holidays:
Experiencing Thanksgiving independent of the holiday season!
The weather is shifting and the days of fall are dwindling. As the last leaves fall, and the days become colder, and Thanksgiving approaches, I feel myself being p-u-l-l-e-d into “the holidays”, that lump sum of chaos and frenzy and it’s only mid-November!
Yesterday, November 13th, as I was doing some non-holiday shopping, there was Christmas music piped throughout the store, oh my! Is it possible to stay in the moment, one holiday at a time? Is it possible to simply celebrate Thanksgiving without anything looming behind it? YES, IT IS! Let’s explore and steep into “thanks” and “giving” just for this moment!
What happens when we pull Thanksgiving away and see it as a holiday independent of anything else on the calendar… perhaps the way you remember it?
Take a moment to yourself and ask yourself: What does Thanksgiving mean to me?
Many of us remember the stories of the first Thanksgiving, Pilgrims, Native Americans, bounties of food and coming together. Those of us that are more history prone are aware that Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln in hopes of bringing a sense of healing and reprieve to wounded nation.
Personally in our own lives, this holiday can be a time of gathering and celebration, or for some of us a source of loneliness and isolation. What’s there for you?
Whatever this holiday represents for you, I offer you a different perspective; one filled with mindfulness, loving-kindness, and self-compassion:
“Thanksgiving”…giving thanks…or is there a little bit more in this word? I see both gratitude and generosity all wrapped up in one word.
“Thanks”, or gratitude and “Giving”, generosity are each independent pillars in the practice of Loving-Kindness.
Along with other qualities such as kindness, compassion, friendliness, forgiveness, and empathy, gratitude and generosity are sister qualities…2 sides of the same coin.
You can’t actually practice one without the other. When we practice gratitude, generosity arises; when we are being generous we also notice ourselves leaning into gratitude.
We tend to be more familiar and comfortable with offering the qualities of Loving-Kindness to others, but the truth is that in order to be fully present with others, we first need to be fully present with ourselves. In order to offer gratitude and generosity to others, we first need to offer it to ourselves…to our own body, mind, and being.
The Thanksgiving Challenge:
How can you be generous with yourself this holiday season?
Perhaps by catching a bit more sleep, or being mindful about eating and over-indulging, or maybe taking time for you: reading a book, taking a bath, connecting with a friend. Perhaps the most generous thing we can do for ourselves is becoming mindful. Watching, listening, feeling the abundance all around us…within us!
How can you offer gratitude toward yourself?
Tough question, right? Here are a few ideas: Drop in, pay attention to your body! Look at all the amazing things your body takes care of for you! You’re breathing! Your heart is beating! Your mind is thinking! Your emotions are arising…calling your attention, asking you to turn your kindness and goodwill toward yourself!
Each time you feel the holiday frenzy arising, try this simple exercise:
Sit quietly for a moment. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Notice how gravity holds you in place. Work with the gravity, sink into your seat a bit more deeply and start to notice how grounded you are.
Now, find your center (it may present itself in your abdomen, chest or pelvis). While breathing in and out, notice you are now grounded and centered. Now notice your breath…linking you to life itself!
Grounded, centered, breathing, heart beating, body intact. All is well in this moment.
May your “thanks and giving” be a place of abundance and deep joy!
Come home to your own inner bounty, your own goodwill.