Gifts for the Season

23 Dec 2011 3:55 PM | Kathleen Loehr
As each day becomes shorter and grayer, once again the energy of the season pulls us to reflect, find comfort, and express appreciation and gratitude. The cool night sky is clear enough, as a friend said last evening, “...that you can point to anywhere from earth and see the beginning of the universe.” The holiday season often seems like a mix of pleasure and panic, fun and frustration. Some call it stress! As a small gift, here are a few practices that may increase your enjoyment.

Measure for Meaning. If you give yourself a way to measure the meaning of items on your to-do list, you might not get to it all, but you will focus on the people and the tasks that are most important to you. The measure may be a question...ask:  In what ways is what I am planning/doing important? What does going to this party mean to me? How important is it to me to say “yes?” Will this person/occasion bring me joy? Come up with your own questions. You may be surprised at some of your answers. They may free you to say no at times, and push some items to the top of your list and others off the list.

Breathe. Make extra space for breathing breaks in your day. If you give yourself 2 minutes 4-6 times a day, you will be amazed. In those few minutes, sit comfortably and breathe deeply. You may want to close your eyes. You may want to imagine someone or something you love. Don’t have time for this? Try it: when you first get up, arrive at work, lunch time, when you go to the restroom, when you are leaving for work, get into your car a few minutes early and sit quietly before you start the motor, after dinner and/or before bed. You will enjoy each moment and be present in a more attentive way.

Turn Tasks into Treasures. The holidays, all of your days, hold possibilities for rituals that symbolize your values and support your life. Hold each of the gifts you wrap and unwrap for an extra moment and give it a holiday wish. Write a short note to include in each child's/partner/spouse's bag, or place on her/his pillow. As you serve a bowl of soup or dessert offer a magic word. Offer a prayer when you are at a stop sign. All these beget richness.

Pause. Find time to be alone for a few hours or several days. Turn off your phones and electronic devices. Build a fire or not. Listen to quiet chants or not. Lie down on a cushy blanket on the floor with a small pillow under your neck, or on a couch you can sink into. Pay attention to the places where your body contacts the floor or couch, and find the most pleasurable position. Let yourself get heavy; feel your limbs and your back give in to gravity, and as you do so, sink deeper into pleasure and rest. If you fall asleep, it’s ok. Notice how tired you are, and rest. When you are able to stay in this position and stay awake, may you find the joy of pure being in this space of reflection.

These practices help us sustain the balance we need to live and work generatively. They bring us into the present moment and help us let go of the past and the future....may they enrich you also.  When the stress of the past and future become too burdensome to carry, we lose the vitality of the present. We send you warm thoughts at this solstice, may the holidays find you celebrating your loved ones, filled with gratitude and generosity.

May you live peacefully, juicily and joyfully throughout the coming year.
 © 2018 The Leadership Sanctuary

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