Here in the States, this week officially welcomes us to the holiday season. For many of us this means the beginning of gatherings, travel, gift giving and a series of timeless and/or refreshed traditions. At this time of year, it's common to find ourselves holding space in our lives for paradox, joy and anticipation blend with feelings of pressure and stress. In this life, time and again, we are presented opportunities to open to the wholeness of an experience – broadening our capacity to make space for the truth of all that is present is a practice that mindful attention offers the option to engage. Doing so is like taking steps along a path which allows us, moment by moment, to live closer to the truth. Holding space can be an active acknowledgement of the this and the that (ahem - Seinfeld reference anyone... ). It is recognizing, without turning away or narrowing ones focus. For example, it’s me recognizing that I love connecting with close family and friends during these times, and that I am challenged by connections that don’t flow with as much ease as I’d prefer. Holding space is allowing the truth of both – vs. focusing solely on one or the other. Take this photo for example – when you look at it, what do you see?
Do you notice the early spring buds amidst yet still barren trees? The heart shaped puddle reflecting the bright blue of the sky taking up space along the damp, dirt path? What happens if you focus on one of these aspects or the other? What about if you broaden your gaze - taking in the whole scene? Perhaps this is one way of a hundred ways of kneeling and kissing the ground – which I translate as offering appreciation or gratitude – acts that may be engaged through opening our hearts and minds to the fullness of the truth. Take a look at this article to learn more about the many gifts which research shows stems from engaging practices of gratitude.
Here are some additional offerings of gratitude and appreciation:
Spending quality time with nature, self and those we love
Taking note of that which we’re thankful for (quite literally, on a sticky note or in a journal)
Giving freely without the hope or expectation of receiving anything in return
Offering genuine words of praise or affirmation
Making donations of time, money, food to those in need
Taking moments to bask under cozy blankets, in the sun, snow or gentle rain…
Sharing handwritten letters and thank you notes
Mindfully engaging kindness and patience when interacting with others
Slowing down – a client recently shared with me her new practice of “living slow”
Reflecting on the history of the land on which we reside
Simply saying "Thank you!"
P.S. If it speaks to you, consider joining me in donating to Indigenous communities in the U.S. this week. You can find a list of organizations doing powerful work— here.