At a 2 hour workshop entitled, “Find Some Calm before Christmas”, I started off my workshop by playing Wavin’ Flag, the version recorded by the Young Artists for Haiti. My intention was to inspire the workshops participants to believe that there is a way to find a way to find some personal balance, calm, and peace throughout the holiday season.
Earlier in the week, I had been listening Wavin’ Flag and I was struck by the many messages in the song that had relevance to any of us going through difficult times. What I intend to do is share some of the messages that I heard and relate it to the practice of mindfulness.
You might be surprised that I am speaking of difficult times and Christmas in the same sentence. Many of you will understand that Christmas is a time of a major increase in personal demands. Many of you know that there are Christmas functions, shopping, decorating among others that can make Christmas just a little bit stressful. In addition, there are the expectations we have about how ourselves and our families during this time. In spite of the many images in the media of peace, harmony, good cheer etc., our own reality may fall short of what the media and the expectations promise.
The practice of mindfulness involves paying attention to our mind and body experience and learning to relate to it in a new way. Too often, many of us feel shackled and imprisoned by our thoughts, emotions, and body sensations, which are evidence of our reactivity to a situation often driven by what we want or don’t want to happen. And so it goes. What happens next in any situation is often like a dance. One person acts and then the next which leads to more actions and reactions. Words are spoken, feelings expressed and next thing you know, Christmas starts to loose its shine.
The song, Wavin’ Flag, was written by K’naan and describes the personal challenges of living in a country where there are many difficulties including wars, strife, and unrest. While me may not live with these challenges, it may seem like it sometimes.
Here is what a Wavin’ Flag suggests….
We can act even though it can feels like defeat. We can see and feel the difficulty and it is easy to feel like giving up. The perspective of a mindfulness offers a place to experience the experience and then to make a choice on how to react which may include action or no action at all. How often have we said something that we have later regretted. Cultivating an attitude of acceptance and tolerance may be a wiser choice.
Don’t wait, do something now. The doing in mindfulness involves bringing consciousness to the situation. The forces of stress can be very powerful, and we may react in a habitual and/or conditioned way. We need to be conscious of not only our response under stress, but also the many impulses that will ignite action and to know that any action we take is a choice that is under our control. Realize that taking no action may be the best decision.
Love is the way. Find a way to give to yourself the gift of patience, generosity, and kindness as you experience the challenge of staying present and centered in the midst of the demands.
The stressors can’t control you and that is where some freedom is possible. Whatever happens to you over the holiday season, you have control over your reactions. The stress reaction by definition is automatic by definition. Expect to experience stress, and, when it does, your response is under your control. When stress gets the best of us, we often feel like we have lost control. Mindfulness offers a way to feel control that comes from making a conscious response to the demands.
In the end imagine and become a Wavin’ Flag …. strong, empowered, dignified.
Good luck and best wishes to all as you move through the holiday season. Listen to Wavin’ Flag for inspiration. Please let me know your comments.