As we grow older, holidays can become less and less magical, and increasingly stressful. Families change, traditions are no longer the same, and often, we cling to what used to be. Or how we think things should be.
Holidays can be a stressful time for a number of reasons. They bring to our attention the many attachments we hold onto in life. Attachments of how the holidays “should” be. How we should feel. How our family should act. What we should do. What we should get.
However, amidst all of these “shoulds”, the holidays offer a very special present, the opportunity to practice presence.
Just like everything else in life, the holidays change as well. For a number of years, the holidays upset me as my perspective changed alongside family traditions. I kept clinging to what used to be and what I thought the holidays should be. However, that was not what they were anymore.
This year, something shifted for me.
I let go.
I let go of expectation. I let go of stress. I let go of attachment.
And I was present.
In letting go, I was able to embrace and enjoy all of the loving imperfection the holidays have to offer. With no expectation or anticipation, I was able to fully embrace and celebrate the moments shared with the people in my life. The things that used to make me upset or stress me out were no longer there. I enjoyed the moment for exactly as it was. Instead of focusing on what I wanted to be, I shifted my attention to what was in front of me, and what it had to offer was wonderful in its own way.
This holiday, my greatest present was offering myself my own presence.
Practice presence over the holidays:
- Take a personal pause
- Having lots of family around for extended periods of time is tough, no matter how much you love them. All families have their fair share of crazy. You can’t control it. Nor should you. Take some time to step aside and focus on you. Whether it’s waking up early to go on a walk or locking yourself in the bathroom a little longer to take a few deep breaths, create the space to ground yourself and bring yourself to the present moment. You must first find presence within you before you can carry it through the chaos.
- Let go
- Don’t worry so much or hold on to what you hope things will be. It will never be exactly what you have in your mind. But it still holds the opportunity to be wonderful in its own way. Rather than clinging to a plan or a picture you hold in your mind, just be with what is happening. Letting go of expectation will allow you to enjoy exactly what is in front of you.
- Laughter is a really important part of letting go. Laughter is a wonderful way to surrender to life’s inevitable curve balls and celebrate the present moment. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at your family. Laugh at life. It will all be much more fun this way.
On the holidays and every day in-between, may you breathe deep and allow yourself to find peace exactly where you are and exactly as you are.