Black Friday. Deals extended!
Cyber Monday. Cyber week!
Lights flashing in our eyes. Our eyes darting to find great sales and our minds jumping from desire to desire – from a new phone to a new outfit.
Sweets and food stimulating our taste buds.
Our ears alert to numerous conversations.
Thanksgiving is referred to as a Thanksgiving “break” or a time for family – but what we observe is often very different. It becomes a time of over-stimulation of the senses and the mind, which is also noted as a sense organ in Indian philosophy. The mind, if over-stimulated, gives a sense of groundlessness, affects our mood, plays games with focus and logical thought processes. We could lose perspective of what is truly important in the very moment and be carried by the “wind of stimulation” to take part in activities that are not truly nourishing but rather time-fillers that feel good only in the moment. Adrenaline pours out and circulates in our bodies. Our nervous systems, messaged again and again, are exhausted by the time Thanksgiving time is over. Depleted and exhausted, perhaps having lost the opportunity to be present and mindful with family and friends, an emptiness arises. Instead of experiencing connection to others, we may feel momentarily “high” on consuming objects – caffeine, food, clothes, gadgets, ads, movies.
Perhaps, because, in our individualistic communities, we are not used to habitually connecting with each other without the distractions of modern day life, we also don’t realize how depleted our already stressed reserves become at times like these. In other words, even if we are around others, our minds may be on “alone-mode”.
How can we, as the frenzy continues into the holiday season, truly celebrate life and relationships that nurture us? It is by first reconnecting to ourselves and disconnecting from everything else. When I turned my calendar to December a few days ago, I came across this beautiful quote:
A thousand secrets are hidden in simply sitting still.-Karlfried Graf Durckheim
And this is the perfect time of year to practice! As day slips into night before dinner and the sun often gathers its rays before the rays can even shine on our faces.
Action for this Post: Glide Into Stillness
This will be especially beneficial if you need to reset your mental focus and release nervousness.
And so, we practice gliding into stillness. If you can have dinner by 7:30 p.m., that would be great. If not, that’s also fine. Wait for your food to “feel digested” as a lightness enters your system and begin by closing all the shades so street lights do not enter through the windows. Shut off all devices – iPads, laptops, cell phones. Then turn off all the lights in your home, noticing the stillness that this creates. Continue this until you reach the room in your home where you feel most warm and comfortable. Turn off the last set of lights and sit in silence, by yourself or in the company of others, with your eyes wide open to the absence of artificial light. Allow your jaws, shoulders, and abdomen to relax. Sitting in silence you may hear sounds that you would otherwise miss – maybe even the subtle sounds of the breath. Place all responsibilities on the side and just sit in stillness, noticing that nature is asleep and beckoning you to rest. You may even close your eyes after a few minutes but this exercise is especially calming with eyes open (at least for me!).
If sitting in complete darkness is uncomfortable, light a candle and place it at a distance. Sit for as long as you like…
Then, slowly turn on the minimal number of lights to make your way to bed or your next activity.