The Thanksgiving holiday. A time of giving thanks. A time of returning to family. A time of feeling cramped and criticized. A time of regression to old roles, long-since forgotten until returning to family. A time of overdoing it--food, drink, speech. Bless this day, with its many expectations, commitments and foibles. May it be as messy and real as it gets, and may you be present for it all!
Of course it won't be all bad. But many people these past weeks have spoken their trepidation about the challenge of Thanksgiving, 2015. So, this is written for you who dreads, who worries, who anticipates with an elevated heart rate and sweaty palms (you, my friend, are trapped in "Fight, Flight or Freeze" and breathing will help!) As we bring our attention to the present moment, perhaps we can also expand awareness to the spaces between difficulties. The gentle pause between the expectable discomforts, or the way some person at the table has changed, or the way you've chosen, in this moment, not to speak to unleash the cascade of patterned interaction you have known at past family gatherings.
Yes. Something different. Creating a new pathway in your brain as you sit in this dining chair, not the dining chair of your childhood, listening now to sounds as they enter your ears, not needing the story, but rather just listening. Or perhaps touching the tablecloth and noticing it's texture, contrasting it with the smoothness of your plate, the coolness of your glass every single thing is different. You can always (what a concept!) pay attention to the feel and flavor of that mound of effortfully-made food in front of you, noticing each bite as it enters your mouth and makes its way to nourishing your body. There are so many ways to be present this Thanksgiving, 2015. The invitation is open and the grounding to present moment awareness is possible.
This poem from Danna Faulds (http://dannafaulds.com/) sums it up, though I don't think Danna was thinking of this Thursday, it is a good one to unfurl from your pocket or call up on your phone when you head to the bathroom for a quick Time Out during the feast.
Walk Slowly (Danna Faulds)
It only takes a reminder to breathe,
a moment to be still, and just like that,
something in me settles, softens, makes
space for imperfection. The harsh voice
of judgment drops to a whisper and I
remember again that life isn't a relay
race; that we will all cross the finish
line; that waking up to life is what we
were born for. As many times as I
forget, catch myself charging forward
without even knowing where I'm going,
that many times I can make the choice
to stop, to breathe, and be, and walk
slowly into the mystery.
You are enough and don't need to prove it. You are not in a race with your sibling. Your parent loves you deeply, regardless of that last comment s/he made. You were born to be awake and alive, even at this meal, not deadened and regressed to something unconsciously familiar. Striving to let go of judgment of you and others, open your eyes to what the real blessings are around your table this Thanksgiving. Can you be curious about those and finish your meal with new presence?