It's that time again for the winter holidays - a time when it feels like all the concerns, desires, sadness, and over-whelm show up with a vengence! Is it about dark days? Or having more you'd like to do than time to accomplish it? Expectations for yourself and others that go unmet? Memories of times past that are tied into the sensory experiences in the now? Probably all of the above. How can I THRIVE not simply SURVIVE this time?
A good friend reminded me to get out my full spectrum light and treat myself to some rays. The Oregon coast where I live - infamous for gray gloomy days - has been treated to SUNLIGHT of late, and even as that is hard on water pipes with colder temps, it feels so enlivening! I've added a regime of Vitamin D drops too, 1000 units a day, which is said to boost immunity and improve our sense of well-being.
Grabbing daylight time to get outside and walk briskly is a great treat to yourself as it is QUIET and if you leave your cell phone home, no one can bug you! Give yourself the gift of 'wool gathering' as your mind wanders, notice the natural world around you, walk off the excess sugar you may have consumed through sweets or alcohol. Or, if you take your phone along, choose someone you love to chat with about what matters and spend a bit of time with them sharing, caring and laughing together.
If walking doesn't ring your chime, consider putting some dancing music on and move to the music! For some that would be belly dancing, or moving to a snappy beat. Others will appreciate a slower more expressive form of music and movement. Whatever you love, just DO it! Your body will appreciate the attention and let go of stress, tightness, or slugishness.
Sometimes it feels like there is nothing you have control over, that life is pushing you at full tilt without respite. Tune in and ask yourself: When could I say "no thanks" or "not now!" and take charge of where my attention and energy go? When am I saying "ok, I'll do it..." out of fear of hurting someone's feelings or missing out on something? Experiment. Let those closest to you know you may be saying yes or no as an experiment so they are less likely to take it personally as a slam or rejection.
Treat yourself to adequate sleep --- this is hard to quantify as not everyone's needs are the same. Once or twice a week, sleep until you are waking naturally without an alarm - it's a delight! And consider heading to bed earlier than usual and add some nourishing things like a warm aromatherapy bath, or a foot massage or facial, or perhaps a chapter or two of a book that delights you. Sometimes sexual release is useful in bringing restful sleep. Be creative and consider saying "no" to things that stir you up with distress (ie Television news) or get your hamster wheel brain going! For me that includes caffeine, planning for tomorrow, or worrying about today or yesterday. Sing to yourself or chant mantra, stretch your body gently, sit in silence for a comfortable time. Invoke a dream, light a candle to honor the things for which you feel grateful in the "now."
REACH OUT TO OTHERS
Buddhist teachings tell us that moving our awareness from "What's wrong in my life?" to "How can I serve in someone else's life?" is a good way to move into engagement, community, and gratitude. On this long weekend after the Christmas holiday, it's tempting to drop into the let-down and gloomy navel-gazing. My lesson this year is how to both feel the feelings coming up for me, including sadness and grief for my recently departed doggy, and to be open to feeling other more positive feelings that come from sharing with friends and allowing laughter. I called my old friend Bob to apologize for missing his birthday this month and he proposed that we go to lunch to celebrate - who cares that it is a week late?! "You drive and I'll treat us for lunch. And we can walk the beach while we're in town!'
As we were driving away from Bob's place, we noticed a puddle of water forming under his house, an ominous sign where frozen water pipes can occur. Our friendly handyman came right out and found the problem a simple fix, and we headed for town grateful that all was well. Lunch was terrific, the ocean put on a dazzling display of combers breaking on volcanic rocky beach, and the sharing was heart-warming and gratifying. Maggie Dog cavorted and ran like a crazy girl on the sandy beach and we enjoyed our walk until the raw cold wind urged us back to the warmth of the car.
Today was rich in caring gifts and made better by the freedom to be real and feel whatever came up. I'm reminded how caring for others fills my heart's cup and how the remembering can become a part of awareness in the moment, of being present and having sadness, holding it all at once.
MY WISH FOR YOU....
May you each be blessed with good friends and those who love you. May you love others well even as you care for yourself. Let your heart lead you to reach out to others and risk being real. Listen well to your small inner voice and to those around you, knowing the difference. May the coming year bring lessons gently and may we be filled with gratitude for our living!