My headline is clickbait. There is no such thing as a perfect Advent, Hannukah, Solstice, Christmas or New Year. There never was.
Instead of offering new tips, rituals, recipes, or plans, I suggest we all simply pay closer attention to what we have.
Pay close attention … even to the pain of the holidays
Being more mindful can make each day more vibrant, even as sunlight wanes. It can enliven what exists in the longer hours of darkness. It can make you aware of sorrows and losses. Experiencing and accepting the pain (No holiday is without it!) allows you to see where and how it hurts to remedy more skillfully.
I teach mindfulness meditation in part because it tunes up all my senses. When I am able to distinguish one moment from the next (not being on auto-pilot), I see richness in my life I might have missed otherwise. The onset of the new year becomes three dimensional rather than an idealization.
What can you do when any holiday becomes overwhelming?
Try “instant” meditation. The class I taught recently we practiced this quick reminder. I’ve also taught this tool in the David L. Moss Correctional Center. One is the “Three Ps”.
- Pause (whatever you are doing)
- Be Present (notice your breath, your body, your surroundings)
- Proceed (Return to your activities. You will have a slightly different perspective on the moment).
Awareness is a family affair
You can teach this to you children. An even shorter one that involves a movement to help ground the moment is “2 Feet. 1 Breath.” Try it as a whole family: lift one foot off the ground; put it down; lift the other foot; put it down; and take one, slow, intentional breath.
One last awareness trick you can play as a game is to stop and name all the sensations of a moment. How do those black-eye peas look, smell, feel, sound, and taste? In the Buddhist tradition Thinking is considered a sixth sense. What do you think or know or are curious about those lucky beans?
Rev. Cathey Edwards is a Unitarian Universalist Minister and Mediation Teacher. She served six years as senior minister for Hope Unitarian Church in Tulsa.
This post was originally published in 2020.