By Judith Michales Safford
When I was a child, I often visited a neighborhood playground. There were swings, monkey bars, teeter-totters and a merry-go-round. Holidays and digestion remind me of the teeter-totter and the merry-go-round. Up, down, round and round go emotions and expectations.
Since my five grown children and I live in four different states, holidays consist of cards, phone calls and Skyping. This year my husband and I are flying to California for Thanksgiving to be with my second son and his wife. I will take my basic foods and complement the meals with their garden vegetables. For Christmas, we will drive to Arizona and spend the holiday with my oldest daughter and her family.
My holiday stress comes from my ideas and opinions regarding the busyness of big cities, the gifts and witnessing the interactions between family. Christmas gifts, when I grew up, were usually needed clothing items. My children experienced much of the same, although we did our best to provide a toy from Santa. In today's world, where gifts are big, plentiful and expensive, joy and judgment rise and fall like a teeter-totter.
I have learned through my study of Ayurveda that eating is only part of the digestion process. I must also ask myself: Can I digest the noise, excitement and abundance of things? Can I let the breath and joy return each time judgment takes me away from myself? How do I keep digestion and indigestion from going round and round like the merry-go-round of my youth?
Kindness, gentleness and tenderness are the key words of my mantra this year. Although the teeter-totter and merry-go-round thoughts and feelings are not my favorite experience, I know they are parts of my life that provoke me to look for their gifts. And I have received numerous blessings from this mantra and have watched it extend to those around me. When my great-granddaughter whines, I do my part to relax. I have expectations that there will be time for my daughter and me, but I must surrender to what is.
When those unsettling emotions arise, I find that a guilt-producing voice leaves me rebellious, defensive and resentful. The self-talk that stops me is, It's okay, sweetheart. This brief and powerful meditation melts me into kindness, gentleness and tenderness. Gradually, I return to enjoying life, the holiday and my family.
This holiday, I am willing to digest all of what presents itself because my heart knows the truth. It's okay, sweetheart invites me to breathe and receive.