It’s that time of the year, where with increased expectations, we scramble to meet end of year deadlines at work, anticipate some much needed time off with our loved ones, and strive to keep our budgets balanced. We are reminded that in the giving of the holiday season there is a kind of spiritual receiving, but for many, that isn’t always the case.
Staying balanced and happy through the holidays can be a challenge. We grin and bear our to-do shopping lists and struggle to calendar social get-togethers, tolerating the growing tide of holiday obligations as a means of showing that we care.
If you are a parent you’ll feel the pressure to purchase gifts, decorations and other items tied to holiday celebrations. And for most people, heightened demands during the holidays can lead to unhealthy coping to manage stress that might compromise your Four Doctors Values.
Holidays can be a hard time, particularly when family members or loved ones are not there for us. With the propensity toward overwhelm, heightened feelings can be time machines; they may carry us back to our childhood, remind of us of our losses and show us which of our experiences remain unresolved and unfinished. It’s easy to fall into judgments about yourself and others. Life isn’t always fair and neither are people.
The solution seems to be in finding ways to give to oneself and stay in cooperative relationship with one’s family and associates – of finding points of harmony and expanding them across the structure of one’s life. Enlarging our world-view we soften, becoming empty and receptive, accepting and allowing Spirit to awaken through consciousness. Embracing life on its terms makes us ready to experience genuine happiness and to find the gift dimension in life’s many holiday experiences.
In a season where the collective focus is on light, it is wise to acknowledge the inadequacies of human nature. We accept the archetypal shadow, the dark side of life, events and people. We drop resistance to the discomfort of reacting with defensiveness and opposition in the face of life’s challenges or other people’s issues. We grow from the pain of our relationships, we make allowances for others’ mistakes, we seek amends to repair wounds, and we dare to love no matter what. We cultivate openness by allowing ourselves to be what we are at our most vulnerable.
However, as in nature, the process is not always harmonious. It includes possibility for occasional confusion and disorder. We notice that same chaos in our own lives; no matter how devoted we are to spiritual practices and how earnestly we align our intentions with our values. Suffering or happiness is created through one’s relationship to experience, not by experience itself.
All experiences in life have a natural tendency to evolve us and help us to reach our full potential within the changing conditions of the environment. By cooperating with life you’ll be the one bringing peace to your life. Coming home to the mystery, you come home to yourself.
Here are some of my happy-making, gift dimension strategies that help keep the holidays fun and authentic:
- Don’t sweat the small stuff! I know you’ve heard this before, but it’s good to remember that stress has a cumulative effect.
- Check your expectations. We build expectations of what other people should do, what our lives should be like, how others should behave … and yet it’s a projection of our internalized beliefs. Accepting your and others’ limitations will help you maintain perspective and ground you in reality. Flip your coin.
- Honor your feelings. A healthy body makes it easier to bear and express feelings safely and effectively. True feelings and emotions move us and we move through them. Take time to grieve losses and celebrate joys!
- Maintain a connection with others no matter what you may feel toward them. Authentic feelings do not have to become disruptions of closeness with another. They can be communications that lead to deeper communion. Sharing love enlivens wholeheartedness.
- Set better boundaries. Choose to live as an example for others. Take care of yourself by remaining aware of choices rather than feeling trapped or at the mercy of others.
- Say ‘Yes’ to yourself! Trust the forces that help you to know who you are and where you are going. Observe where your deepest needs, values and wishes exist and grow them with daily nurturance of your 4 Doctors.
- Be adventurous, smile at harried store clerks, laugh a lot, enjoy more sex, hug a stranger, and take time to smell holiday aromas that brighten and cheer your mood.
- Create tangible memories by giving a gift of time, creativity, art, music and meaning rather than a store-bought gift.
- Cultivate habits of gratitude, appreciation and thankfulness for the small and large gifts that abound in your life. The spiritual dimension of feelings comes when we are grateful for the lively energy feelings arouse.
- Engage in a spiritual practice that enhances your sense of wholeness and joyfully unites your soul with the greater universe.
A well-lived present automatically creates a fulfilling future.
You are the gift. Let your soul shine! By participating in your own personal evolution you’ll open your heart to the gift dimension of life well beyond this holiday season.