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From the Guide - December 2013

Have you ever looked forward to the holidays and been disappointed? Ever had sugar plum-esque visions of the warmth of family home and hearth, loved ones gathered around the Yule tree, voices and glasses raised in joyful celebration only to find the reality sorely lacking in cheer?

Many live out that scenario year after year. The Hallmark ads come on the television, the store windows are brightly decorated—everyone seems to be having such a good time. Maybe this year we will….

The truth is that for a lot of folks the holiday season is the most stressful time of the year. Yes, it could be wonderful, but too often it slides into the too much junk food, too much alcohol, and too much spending that leads to too much feeling bad.

Fortunately, as a Sangha, we’ve put feeling bad behind us. This should help. But we can do one more thing that will help tip the balance in our favor: We can commit to conscious, compassionate awareness, lovingkindness, and no judgments. I know that sounds like three things, but they’re actually all the same one with slightly different descriptions.

This year, let’s approach the holidays with Life’s clarity rather than egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate’s disaster design. The odds are good we will feel stressed. We can remember other people will likely feel it, too. We can remind ourselves we all want the same thing—we want to be happy. We want to be loving and kind and to feel good. So, let’s do that.

We know the best way to have what we want is to direct attention to what we want. We know the easiest way to keep attention focused on what we want is through Recording and Listening practice. We know that supporting the person navigating the heavy conditioning of holiday celebrations will give us our best chances of actually having those love-filled holidays we’ve dreamed of. So, let’s do that.

My hope and wish for you this season is that you stay close to your heart, close to the Mentor, and close to practice. 

In gassho,