When Dickens set up his novel The Tale of Two Cities with his famous line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of time….”, he may have well been describing December.
December. A month filled with a myriad of emotion. For some, it’s their favorite time of year, for others their least. For some, a time of hope and connection, for others a time of loneliness and grief. Whatever emotions are attached to this month for you, making the commitment to self care might completely change how things flow in the next few weeks.
To find a bit more stability this month, I’ve been relying on loving kindness meditation. It’s an ancient and simple way to show up to for both the best and worst of times with a more open heart. I’ve learned that there are many situations I cannot control, but I always have the chance to work with my inner state of being.
These are the Four phrases bouncing through my mind these days:
May I be filled with loving kindness.
May I be well.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
May I be happy.
You don’t need to sit for 20 minutes to practice loving kindness (of course….spending a chunk of time in practice is always beneficial). But even repeating these phrases to yourself during stressful situations can quickly shift your attitude so you respond with less defensiveness and more receptivity.
And remember, when we show up with more peace and love, we have great power to shift the situation at hand. This is a useful time of year to remember the scientific concept of entrainment, a natural law of synchronization. A classic study of entrainment was done with 3 people in a silent room for 20 minutes. Participants didn’t talk or interact in any way, yet by the end of the 20 minutes the brain state and physiology of the calmest person in the room pulled the other 2 brains in line with it. The most powerful person in the room was the most relaxed one!
This finding has great applicability to yogis in the month of December. Even if you are the only person in your family, workplace or social circle who practices yoga or meditation, your presence and the positive changes in your body are impacting those around you FOR THE BETTER even if they are unaware.
So…keep practicing and as Deepak Chopra says, “the more you practice the more powerful you become and the less you have to do…your presence does it all.” Bring that loving presence to your family holiday gathering this year and see what happens.