I keep having this urge to write posts that leave you feeling hugged and safe and warm. Life has so many rough edges that my instinct is to make this space totally edge-free.
But lately every time I sit to write and quiet myself to hear what needs to be said, I feel edges. Not scrape-you-up edges, but the kind that hold tension. The kind that are the good sort of push to get us (I’m very much included in this “us”) to grow in the ways we desire.
So here’s what I’m hearing tonight:
We’re at the start of the busiest holiday season. And for many of us, that means a season when centeredness and clarity and awakening take back stage to everything urgent (events! what to wear to events! gift buying! home decorating! food prep! travel/hosting planning! worrying about interpersonal dynamics that will happen at imminent gatherings! worrying about not having any imminent gatherings! etc!).
And I think there’s really a time for everything under the sun, including a time for inner things, and a time for intense external focus; a time to be fluffy and celebrative, and a time to contemplate deeply.
But here’s the edge:
I think nearly all of us know one or more practices that help us feel more trusting, stable, and sane, and I think most of us assume there’s an unavoidable pause button on that practice (or those practices) when the tyranny of the urgent hits hard.
When life turns up its flame – and even when our OWN lives aren’t particularly hectic but we’re surrounded by that vibe – we pause things like eating greens, keeping our sugar and alcohol intake sane, meditation and prayer, exercise, sleep…
I’m not saying it’s possible to do all of these things and the hundred other things we have on our plates right now to do.
But I do think we can pick one (and sometimes more than one) of the things we know help us feel good, and do that thing all the way through this season.
In all honesty, as I listen, I feel an urgency to us doing what we can to lean into our best selves. There isn’t fear or judgment behind this urgency so much as a sense that we need the strength and trust of our most awake, alive selves to take us where we need to go – individually and collectively. It’s a sense that now is not the time to sit back and wait until spring or summer or five or ten years from now to do what we know we need to do.
(And I really am talking about the simplest things we know are ours to do. For me, this is prioritizing sleep more than I have been and meditating daily.)
I don’t know “where it is we need to go” – I have no woo woo visions to share with you there. I simply have what I hear as I quiet myself and open myself to whatever needs to be said. And this – all that I’ve said so far – is what I’m hearing.
I want to be clear on something, though: self-kindness and self-compassion feel way at the top of the list of important practices to incorporate into this season (and always). So if your efforts to stay trusting, stable, or sane feel anything like whips or judgmental finger-wagging, please do what you can to close your inner door to them. And to take a different tact entirely.
Choose one practice that you sense is important for you to maintain through this season and treat it like you might treat breathing meditation: maintain it until you notice yourself not maintaining it (just like you might notice yourself not aware of your breath), give yourself a smile and a warm nod once you notice, and then pick the practice back up.
No judgment. No scandal at not maintaining the practice. Just the commitment to try again (and again and again) (…and again :) whenever you notice you’ve strayed from your course.
What could happen if you did that? Or I? How much trust might get grown? How different might our experience of these next few weeks be?
If you’re someone who likes edges and you want some loving butt-kicking in order to do your practice, watch this video for inspiration and then go find yourself some help. Or use Marianne’s R-rated rant to pump you up for whatever it is you know you need to do.
And above and beneath it all, know yourself loved. If that sounds hokey or hollow, I don’t think you strange. My hokey/hollow alarm is triggered lots by such things.
But they are the truth I know to say right now. They’re the words that I hear in my heart and the feeling I feel so strongly.
You are loved.
And the time is now to keep waking up.
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P.S. I’m putting finishing touches on a little ebook called Unspiking the Holiday Punch: A Trust Tending guide for self-kindness before, during, and after extended family time – all about self-kindness practices to get you through challenging interpersonal holiday time. Watch for its unveiling next Wednesday, December 7th!