November has arrived and we all know what that means. It means the flurry of the Holiday season is preparing to pounce upon us. It'll start with holiday decorations in the stores, the onslaught of junk mail from magazines, and the questions to-and-from family members -- "What do you want for Christmas / Hannukah / Kwanza, etc.?"
This also means holiday cheer, the anticipation of gathering with friends and family, the joy of tradition, and remembering that behind all the commercial craziness, there is a deeper meaning and purpose for this time of year. For me, the season is about gratitude, togetherness, family, love, and kindness, and I cannot embody these things if I get swept away in the anxiety of busy-ness, the drama of what's happening in our country today, and the pettiness of the little annoyances I cannot control.
I believe SO much in the impact we have on others just by remembering our own centeredness, our own integrity and conviction in remaining true to who we really are. How do we find peace when the tendency towards chaos, drama, or fight/flight is so palpable and eager to consume?
For me, the best I can do is knowing how to come back to my center. What tools will I employ to re-establish balance once I've teetered off....because I will teeter off.
But first, how do we know when we are off center? What does it feel like? What happens to our body? What happens to our mind? What do we do? What do we say to ourselves? I know when I’m off center because that’s when the negative self-talk happens, or when I start to blame others, or flashes of anger appear out of nowhere, or my need for something sugary is heightened. When I recognize the signs, and sometimes it takes awhile, instead of perseverating on the problem, I ask myself, WHAT DO I NEED RIGHT NOW?
It is a compassionate question, a question that means “Hey, I know this is not who you really are, so what do you need to help you find you again?” Sometimes what I need is just a moment (or several moments) to stop what I am doing and breathe. To stop the incessant chatter in my head knowing it accomplishes nothing. To listen to the silence and feel the stillness, to get back into my body and FEEL. Maybe it means getting something wholesome to eat. Maybe it means going for a walk, or pulling out the gratitude journal, or going to a dance or yoga class, or canceling plans to honor some solitude. Whatever it is, whatever we need to find center, we must listen to our bodies, pay attention and take the time to know wholeness again, even for just a few minutes.
This is a Lifelong Practice, but we will get better at it if we commit to it, knowing we are worth it. Being compassionate with ourselves, allowing room for imperfection and allowing space to return to center is imperative to survive the holidays, to survive anything.