Let Your Presence be Your Gift

The Art of Loving Where You Are - Especially During the Holidays

The holidays are traditionally a time for reminiscing. As the year winds to a close, we are tempted to reflect back on our past and contemplate our future rather than living in the present. Though purposeful reflection and visualization can be completely productive exercises, this is not typically the tone of what is happening in our own headspace. Rather, we replay situations, reminisce about past relationships, dig up old wounds, or dream of what is to come. While reflection and visualization are meditative states, the alternative is the groundwork for mental chaos.

I was visiting with a friend in the wellness industry recently; she affirmed that the days leading up to the holidays are always her busiest. Tensions run high and we tend to fall quickly into false stories from our past or obsess about future outcomes which we cannot control.

 art by  @cleowade

art by @cleowade

I’ve caught myself doing it too. I let the holiday spirit take me back to a time when a relationship was good, recounting all of the positives and abandoning the negatives. I let the hustle, bustle and commotion remind me of the stress of managing a complicated family at the holidays. I worry about the gifts I need to buy or where I’ll be at midnight on New Year’s Eve. I think about what I might have done differently in one situation or the other or what changes will come in the new year.

Here’s the thing, it’s easy to get caught up in these stories during any time of the year, but it’s particularly likely during the holidays. There’s something about the slight change to our routine and the year winding down that sets our brain and emotions into overdrive (if you follow astrology closely - which I don’t - you’ll also know there’s apparently some crazy cosmic shenanigans going on right now, jacking with all of our sensitive systems...someone please explain this to me in layman’s terms).

For me, I’ve decided this year will be different. I’ve been setting myself up to live in the present versus tripping out about the past or future. It’s not easy. Living in the present requires you to sit with discomfort in order to grow, to process situations rather than numbing them, to look at others with love and compassion instead of judging or projecting emotions on them.

Most importantly, living in the present requires you to hold a compassionate, judgement-free, space for yourself - the person we are often the most hard on. Sometimes this means stepping back and actively witnessing our fears and neurosis rather than rushing through them.  For me, it means more rest, more reflecting, more bubble baths, more open conversations, more meditation, more forgiveness, less judgement, less hasty reactions, less comparison. Most beautifully, it means forgiving ourselves for moments where we’ve missed the mark and celebrating our ability to choose again in any moment.