Thanksgiving: a unique American holiday that is universal, unlimited by religion, race, or any category. It’s a special time to come together with family and friends to feel gratitude on this day of the celebration of abundance (oh yeah, and feasting!).
But for some of us, this isn’t an entirely pleasant holiday. We may be faced with “going home” to tension, crazy family dynamics, feeling ignored or attacked, possibly being the black sheep of the family. Perhaps you are hosting a large gathering, and stressed about pleasing everyone’s palates – or having everyone in your house! There may be a recent loss in the family that makes holidays, especially the most family-oriented one of the year, somewhat painful. Or we may be apart from our family, or feel that we don’t have one, and are faced with spending this holiday alone.
I love to sit in my backyard – just taking in whatever I see, hear, and feel. This practice is called the “sit-spot” – a technique used by naturalists to immerse themselves in the experience of a chosen location in nature, to get to know the flora and fauna in a much more intimate way.
My eyes captured a bird, hopping on the ground. It was clearly an insect eater – small, with a long, pointed beak. I wanted it to come closer, but it slipped through the lattice work of the fence to my neighbor’s yard. I decided that if I wanted to know this bird better, why not be like a bird?
I have this painting you see here on my stairway. It’s a print of a watercolor of my spiritual teacher, Amma. I fell in love with it a few years ago, and knew it would look lovely on the landing of our stairs.
Every day, as I descend the 7 steps at the top of our staircase, I pause facing her image. Her eyes are closed and she has radiance beaming from her third eye in the center of her forehead. She holds her hands reverently, just above her solar plexus, in some sort of mudra – similar to folding them in prayer, but the tips of the little and index fingers touch.
Every time I come down the stairs, I take a few moments to pause with her image. I, too, close my eyes, and take a mindful breath. I put my hands in the mudra, and imagine the light at my 6th chakra. I silence my mind, if only for a moment. Continue Reading
The mind likes to do a lot of comparing. Am I doing as well as that person over there? My yoga poses suck. I am the best in the class! Their car is nicer than mine. It would be easy to write pages of this, wouldn’t it? It’s all too familiar.
In my years as a counselor, it’s become apparent to me that comparison is the root of depression. We wish things were different than they are, and we tend to focus on what we don’t have, or what isn’t happening right now. This is a sure-fire way to ruin your mood, and it does nothing for creating what you really want. Continue Reading
I’m the kind of person that is looking for meaning in everything. This opens up my perspective on life to be able to look at ordinary things and find great lessons inthem. It inspires me daily.
But lately, I’ve also come to appreciate meaninglessness. Sometimes, it’s nice just to be myself, do something, and not search intensely for what great spiritual message may be coming through. It’s refreshing just to be. Continue Reading