I can feel my habits asserting themselves, lurching automatically, yet thwarted at most turns. Is that happening for you, too?
Jim and I usually travel for an extended period during the holidays. Last year it was our epic trip to Italy and years before to Southeast Asia. But this year, with stay at home orders looming all around us, we're staying close to home. Not by choice.
But. But. But....
I can feel my privilege jump into self-righteous action, "certainly an exception can be made for us!"
Habits can be hard to manage--particularly when we're feeling threatened. Particularly when we find ourselves in an ongoing unfolding large scale disaster. Reaching to comfort foods. Watching more movies. Shopping. Like a caged cat whose instincts MUST be expressed and in turn hurts itself, I am this creature of habit!
Mindfulness is poised to wake us up from these habits and sometimes help dissolve them, and all I can say is I can see the habits more clearly, but am not necessarily free from them.
Sharing special traditions may not be possible this year, but something is emerging and I notice it most when I sit in stillness. Rather than see these current conditions as a restraint being forced upon me, I'm beginning to see it as an invitation to something deeper. Something not available when I'm busy traveling or shopping.
Lately when I find time to sit in stillness, whether in formal practice or not, I'm reminded through direct experience the more subtle pleasurable states of being. They always seem to be available in stillness. And even more so when the stillness of winter settles in.
When I lived in the cabin I spent many holiday seasons quiet and close to the land. They were some of the most memorable and enjoyable holidays of my life. They afforded a deep sense of connection, ease and subtle joy, or contentment.
This awakening and reminder has shifted my thoughts about this holiday season to hearing a strong internal invitation to tend to the natural goodness that arises from slowing down, taking time in nature and stillness, and reflecting on the deeper meaning of the holidays and the season.
Now that Jim has sold the farm and is living on the mountain with me, we have more time to share and more time for reflecting on our 13+ years together. We celebrated Hanukkah and learned more of the prayers and meaning of that tradition. Now, each evening we're spending time looking at the photos from the same date last year. Where were we and what magic and beauty was unfolding? We're getting the rare opportunity to relive and enjoy our trip to Italy--something that we don't often do and is easier to do these days because of technology.
We returned from our trip to Italy in January, on the very day the virus was announced in Wuhan. The trip to Italy has become more precious each day--knowing our timing and not knowing our chances of return. While we're on the cusp of a vaccine and the potential to return to some semblance of normal, we honestly don't know what post-Covid life and travel will be like.
That uncertainty can create tension, anxiety or fear. Or, we can embrace the mystery, the wonder, the unknown. Because Covid or no Covid, we really don't know what the future holds.
And so it's time to turn inward. To the forced stillness that winter imposes year after year. And even though the weather at times is reminiscent of fall or early spring, the bigger tidal influences are the same. Rather than fight with determination--push against its natural tide--I'm yielding to the bigger invitation.
I'm curious--what could the changes this season mean for you--other than disrupting your traditions? Are you making new ones? Can this be a larger invitation to something even more meaningful? If so, how? I'd love to hear about it.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.