“Something precious is lost if we rush headlong into the details of life without pausing for a moment to pay homage to the mystery of life and the gift of another day.” ~~ Kent Nerburn
This time of the year can be the best of times and the worst of times, to turn a phrase. Winter, itself, is a great time for introspection, for nurturing our hearth, for focusing on family, and for learning. The seasons provide us a lovely opportunity for retreat.
But our world seems out of touch with the seasons. We turn off our senses and listen to the sales advertisements in the newspaper and on the internet and we start making lists of all the chores and shopping we need to do. We close ourselves off from seeking the light in the darkest of times and get strung out by the smell of cinnamon and pine that’s pumped through stores and get fascinated be the twinkle of Christmas tree lights.
And this post isn’t to say that we need to bring “Christ” back into Christmas. It’s not to discourage gift giving or late nights that we spend gift wrapping and making cookies. It’s not for or against any holiday that we celebrate at this time of the year. There’s time for champagne, stockings, menorahs, and fireworks. But what about if we find some balance during this time of the year?
Does my best friend really need another sweater, another pair of earrings, or more gift cards to Itunes, amazon, etc? We don’t ever get to spend time together outside of work so if I am being mindful of what’s important, maybe I would offer to pay for lunch at a locally owned restaurant… thus spending time with my friend outside of the office, helping the local economy, and taking time to just be a companion. What would be better for our families and our team at work than for us to find something rejuvenating so that we can be there for others. 30 minutes can make a difference when we turn off work and problems and simply opening ourselves to being fully present at that meal.
This time of the year, we really miss the people who we love that have died. It’s a great time of the year to give to charities in memory of those who have touched us. Sites such as www.seva.org or www.heifer.org are great places to make a difference in the world. Or find an organization in your area, like a local hospice or food pantry, where funding has most likely been slashed. Not only will you help others but you will pay forward all the generosity and love that your special person gave to you.
And what about people in your life that you’ve lost touch with? People who, throughout the year, go by the wayside when we’re busy? Can you take an hour and bring groceries to an elderly relative? Can you watch your neighbor’s kids so they can go to the doctor’s when their flu shots haven’t worked? Can you take an hour to read to your kids or a niece or nephew?
Can you give time and love, instead of a new watch or XBox?
Where else can we find balance? Maybe this year we don’t go to every cookie exchange, every holiday cocktail party, or family production. Maybe this year, you take a little longer walk or walk outside instead of at the gym. What if you walk down by the river, without your Ipod? Can you just listen to the wind and the birds? How about learing to cook one vegetarian dish a month or a week, helping the environment and your body?
Mindfulness gives us the tools to remember that the middle way, the way of keeping the balance, the way of being healthier and well, just more sane. It gives us opportunities to see how we are living, what we are thinking, and where we are spending our time and our thoughts. Mindfulness helps us turn on, not tune out. Mindfulness brings us closer to stillness and peace and allows us to show mercy for our hearts and compassion for those around us.
What better gift could you give to those you love but more mindfulness in your life and in theirs?