Finding your peace
The annual lighting of candles began yesterday evening. Although Chanukah is a mostly made-up holiday and not of any particular biblical importance, I have come to love the way the light grows from day to day, and enjoy the warmth as well, almost as if the candles were living, breathing things. Seeing the lit Chanukiah fills me with a sense of peace.
What brings you peace during the holidays? Is it being with your family? The music? Watching snow fall outside your window? It's worth taking a moment to reflect on how you can connect with your self and your higher power during this time of year. Even if you are not Jewish or Christian, this can be a season of connecting with people you care about.
This time comes with many wishes for peace. What does that mean to you? Is it a state of world affairs, a sense that things are running pretty well in life, or a deep spiritual connection with your higher power? Is it a temporary state of being, or something more long-lasting? How do you find peace?
In the hectic pace of festivities, how can you find or carve out a space where you find a sense of peace? Do you need to set some boundaries? Set aside some time just for you? Or maybe you find peace in the hustle and bustle of people coming and going, the baking and cooking, the twinkly lights and the presents under the tree. For me, a peaceful moment comes when the presents have been opened and the big meal has been eaten, reading in the living room with some quiet music in the background. I feel connected to my family and yet am usually ready for some quiet time.
But there is another level of peace, one that I try to cultivate year-round. This sense of peace comes from knowing that I am at peace with myself. It's not something that's easy to describe, and it's not constant -- I fall in and out of this condition all the time. But I'm learning to spend more time cultivating that feeling and doing the things I need to do. I'm much better company than I used to be, and no longer dread spending time on my own.
Five tips for cultivating a sense of peace with yourself:
1. Meditate. There's no one way to do this, and there are plenty of resources out there to get you started. It's not for everyone, but with a little perseverance, most people can find a way of meditating that works for them. I have been meditating for a couple of years now and it has calmed my inner mind down a lot.
2. Make a gratitude list. It may sound silly, but write down five things you're grateful for every night before bed. With time, you'll find yourself thinking about gratitude more during the day. Gratitude is an incredibly powerful tool for raising your mood and feeling more connected to things.
3. Face up to your shortcomings. Think about a situation that makes you angry, preferably a situation with another person. How is this situation hurting you, and what is your part in it? Usually you will find that it boils down to fear or low self-esteem. Recognizing this won't make the bad feelings go away, but it's the first step to confronting issues that are holding you back.
4. Be kind to yourself. Think of anyone you care about, and ask yourself if they are perfect. The answer is, of course they aren't. But you find them beautiful despite or because of their faults. Why not extend the same grace to yourself as you do to others? Aren't you also "just" human? You are inherently worthy just by virtue of being born.
5. Pray for those you resent. If there is someone or someones who are bothering you and making you resentful, who interfere with your sense of peace, pray for them. If praying isn't your thing, send them good vibes from the universe, or just wish for their happiness. Do this every day for two weeks, and you will find that you mean it.
Some of these will take some time and effort, but you are worth it. Try some of these out and let me know how you got on.
Wishing you much peace and happiness over the holidays.