As we are entering the busy and stressful holiday season, both the excitement and the burden is palpable for me. The time we have to set aside to attend to all the things that we need to, the travels as well as relational challenges that can be anticipated. Underneath all of this there is the awareness, that when all this is over, I still need to get to the responsibilities that I set aside before it all began.

With a deep breath, lift the shoulders to the ears, hold, then drop them with a sigh. Ok a little humour might help:

Biff: Why did the turkey cross the road?
Bob: I don’t know.
Biff: Twas Thanksgiving Day and he wanted people to think he was a chicken!

Robert Thurman said: we practice, we practice, practice – but when is the performance?

Whatever we practice we get stronger. What lets us have mastery? The essence is to have an intention and attention, a sense of what matters and how we pay attention. Are we striving too much? Too much effort to get somewhere? To the end of sitting? As in yoga teaching: if you are a slacker, sit up a little taller. If you are a striver, relax a bit. Not too loose not too tight – like the tuning of a musical instrument.

If I have a busy mind, remembering that’s all of us – its not personal. When it comes to self-judgment or such unskillful emotions and thoughts, this mantra helps me: not perfect | not permanent | not personal.

Like exercise, the practice has to be regular. The body, the heart and the mind like rhythm – like the revolving planets.

Rumi asks… do you make regular visits to yourself?

How to practice? Amongst the many meditation paraphernalia out there, there is a pendant shaped like a bone that said sit, stay, heal! How much time? There is no too much or too little. While waiting for tea kettle to boil? Pausing under a tree while in nature? While on the metro? Something to experiment. We are all different, and we might need to customize our practice. Do listen to your heart when you experiment. What brings calm happiness?

Having awareness or the intention to pay attention, this is the time I revisit David Foster Wallace’s talk, This is water. I have the link here.

A meditation student asks the master: What is the point? What more Master, can I do? The master replied:

No more than you can do for the sun to rise in the east –

so you will be there for the sunrise.

Breathing in… I have arrived.

Breathing out… I am home (being the present moment)

Holiday of the Grateful Heart – Danna Faulds

I hereby decree this day to be

the Holiday of the Grateful Heart,

the perfect opportunity to appreciate

and celebrate my life. May I see the

whole broad sweep of my experience,

all the peaks, valleys, and subterranean

wanderings as the necessary steps to

get me here, where giving thanks feels

natural and right, where love and light

take centre stage, and even difficulties

have a place on my list of reasons

to be grateful.