And so, November is here and the holidays are almost upon us. I am wondering how is this year coming down for you? Are you feeling lots of HO! HO! HO! holiday cheer or is it more like the mega holiday stress filled with endless OH NO’s!? And maybe you feel both, oscillating up and down from one end of the holiday spectrum to the other, moment to moment. Sure, holiday work parties are fun, but will you blow it with a flippant comment about the new work schedule? Last year, your boss avoided eye contact for months when you spoke so freely at the party. And why is it hardly anyone touches the dish you bring to gatherings – are you really that bad a cook? And then there was the pain of gathering with family over Thanksgiving. Heaven help you when it comes time to buy gifts.
How do you usually navigate ‘all of this’ about the holidays? Wouldn’t you rather be relaxed about what happens the next two months? How grand when our critical self does not get all riled up around expectations. I am grateful to say that I rarely get stuck on any aspect of the holidays anymore. I find myself flowing with and through issues that come up for me with a sense of ease that is not so different from any other month of the year.
How do I do this? It’s really not rocket science. I believe anyone can find this flow if you are willing to make time for a pause. No multitasking, this is a real pause to just be with yourself and whatever is coming up for you about the holidays. We could even try a little exercise right now.
Are you sitting comfortably?
Maybe sink a bit into your chair as you are reading this.
Create a space of quiet time to just be with what’s going on inside of you right now.
You might think about one aspect of the holidays that is throwing you for a loop this year. Maybe it’s decorating a tree, or attending an event or buying gifts. Whatever it is; now imagine that you are inviting a part of you that has an opinion about that. Carefully phrase your invitation to show that you really want to know what ‘it’ thinks. You might say “What’s all this dread around giving gifts? or How can I maintain the holiday spirit around giving this year?”
Your body holds immense wisdom about your life. It’s the one that has been there with you through every holiday season since you were born.
If something comes up for you, whatever it may be, turn toward it as if you are gently greeting a friend. Acknowledge that it is there. Picture yourself just hanging out with it, getting to know each other better – like you might do with any good friend.
Maybe it shares that it is very tired of giving gifts that are not appreciated. Reflect that back to be sure you are understanding it correctly. Try using phrasing like this: “I’m sensing something in me that is so very tired of giving gifts that are not appreciated.” If you got that right and it feels heard, it might share more. For example, it might add that it is not wanting you to waste money, or spend so much time looking for gifts or maybe it is just fed up with how MANY gifts are expected. Maybe it’s other people’s expectations that get you stuck. What is it for you? The list might be quite long if you have not taken time to listen within like this before. Once all of the “not-wanting” has had a chance to be heard, it is likely that you will notice parts of your body that were ‘tight’ or ‘wound up’ about this issue, have now relaxed.
Ah…now take just a bit more time to pause and let this more relaxed feeling be there in your body as much as it would like. And maybe another moment to appreciate all your body holds for you and all it has shared just now.
There is an incredibly powerful moment of healing each time something in us really feels heard. A shift occurs, from the inside. It brings fresh air and a whole new perspective about your issue. There are names for this process. We call the experience of being with this body process a “felt sense”, the shift itself “life forward movement” and this whole new way of pausing to listen within “Focusing”.
I am obviously an avid fan of Focusing. My holiday pausing here is just one little exercise, one little taste, of how simple it can be to tap our own truth and wisdom on a regular basis. Today for instance, I experienced another example. I was exercising to a video that is a bit intense compared to my recent routines. I came to a part for one leg where I decided to take off my ankle weight. Wouldn’t you know it, because I was present and listening, I heard clearly my other leg chime in at the exact same place and ‘remind’ me that I took off the ankle weight for the other leg here, so might I do that for it as well. ha ha! Of course. I responded, “I hear you” and sensed clearly that this action felt right to honor now. Off came the other ankle weight. All this inner processing happened easily within a few seconds.
Note, for those who are not experienced Focusers, it may be harder to do inner listening alone and really trust what you are hearing. Regular focusers generally partner with another person every week or two and take turns being Focuser and listening Companion. There is something magical about another person listening intently to us that supports us in hearing ourselves. All of us can learn to listen to ourselves and the world around us at a more and more consistent place of Compassionate Presence. This is the intention of the Level 1, 2, 3 and 4 workshops – building skills and practicing how to hold this compassionate, trusting space for yourself and others.
And so… back to prepping for the holidays. If you had something come up for you with the earlier exercise that was negative or something you did not want to happen, there is one more invitation you might try now or sometime soon. Sensing into your body, this time invite what your body is wanting for you around this whole issue of the holiday season this year.
And here you may be truly amazed at what comes. For example, it could be joyful Ho! Ho! Ho’s as you get an image of how the real joy of the holiday season is there, alive and well, in you after all. No longer buried under a pile of Oh NO’s, your joyful expression for this year can be discovered, embodied and lived fully. You will know exactly what you need to keep that sense of holiday cheer going so that you live with more ease this month. And if you find it hard to get to this sense of ease yourself, this may be a powerful time to gift yourself with a Guided Focusing Session. I can guide you (in person or over the phone) in listening within from that place of Compassionate Presence and really hearing what is wanting to be acknowledged. If you are local, you might even want to consider the ultimate gift to yourself – a Guided Focusing Session from me with Conscious Body Work by Kari Kovick. You get double support in holding Presence from both Kari and I.
Now, go get it on! Arms open wide to the holidays and Ho! Ho! Ho!