Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world.
Miguel de Cervantes
The holidays can be an interesting time of year. We often get together with family, old friends and work colleagues. As our schedules fill up with events and gatherings, we sometimes lose our sense of ourselves. Rather than disconnecting, what if we become more integrated with ourselves?
To me, balance is elusive but integration can become our new norm. Instead of seeking balance, how can all of who we are, all of our desires, and all our actions become more integrated?
I often talk about daily practices. What if we started to look at the practices that support us in being the best version of ourselves as a natural part of our lives? How we eat, how we choose to move our bodies, what we read, how we recharge and rejuvenate – when we become more conscious of these activities, they can become a supportive aspect of our lives instead of one more thing on the to-do list or one more thing we use as fodder to beat ourselves up.
For me, I have always been an active person but I spent many years as an obsessive exerciser. Exercise was a compulsion, not a way to connect with myself. There was no soul to it. When I lost two of my best friends within the course of a year and a half, I was deeply hurting. Moving my body meant allowing the emotions to work their way through me without stagnating. It was difficult. I kept getting up, somehow knowing that connecting with the emotion instead of pushing it away would heal me over time. For me, moving my body helped me connect with the emotion but not let it immobilize me. There were several occasions when I was trail-running that tears started rolling down my face as I felt the gaping hole in my heart and my life from losing two of the most important beings in my life. Exercise, for me, had come full circle. It was no longer a weapon I used to whip myself into shape, beat myself up and disconnect from myself, it was now a tool for healing and for deep soul connection.
Some days, this looks like yoga and stretching, other days, a walk, and other times, I run in the mountains. The key is to listen deeply to what your soul is craving and to honor wherever you are on this journey called life. It takes courage to look within. Many people fear what they will find there. This resistance to go within often times manifests in distraction and addiction. We are sometimes so afraid to sit with ourselves and feel whatever uncomfortable emotion may be brewing that we often reach for the bottle, or the pint of ice cream, or the credit card, or exercise. While these distractions may provide a temporary fix, the longing is still there. When we can sit with that longing and explore it, we are able to honor it with integrity and compassion. When we honor all of who we are, we open ourselves up to deep healing. This also allows for new levels of connection, not just with ourselves, but with others as well.
This time of year involves many social gatherings. When we are more fully connected to ourselves, we create opportunities for authentic connection with those we come in contact with as well. Imagine attending a holiday gathering and instead of the mindless chatter and small talk that tends to be characteristic of these types of events, you engaged in a few deeply meaningful conversations. Imagine how you would feel leaving the event having had that experience. Imagine how that impacts your sense of yourself and your sense of the interconnectedness of the world. We get to choose. It is my hope that we choose authenticity. That begins with your relationship with yourself. How can you be more authentic with yourself today? This really does make all the difference.
Wishing you solace and authentic connection in your solitary moments, and at every event you attend,