A positive path for spiritual living

Holiday Expectations

Sat, 12/08/2018 - 12:00am -- nstrauss
Yes... we all blinked somewhere along the line and here it is, the Christmas season once again, soon to be followed by the beginning of 2019, and the shift of 2018 into our rear view mirrors! We've all experienced the way that time seems to speed up and slow down and stall from time to time. When we notice these things, we can choose to use them as reminders that everything in our human experience of Life is constantly shifting and changing according to our perception. Wise teachers have reminded us over and over again that, as we believe, it is done.  
We each come to the holiday season (or anything else, for that matter!) with our own individual hopes and expectations, and the optimal practice is to cultivate the resilience which allows us to expect Good in ALL things. Not surprisingly, one of the quickest ways to become unhappy is to focus on all of the ways that the outer world does not match up to your idea of "Holiday Perfection".   
One practice which can help us to regain our contentment is simply being mindful of where your expectations are originating. Which expectations arise from your own deepest core values, and which arise from the external influence of advertising, social media, family dynamics or your own simple desire to somehow, magically "fix" everything and everyone, everywhere? When we recognize where those expectations are actually coming from, it can be easier to let them go and find willingness to simply move through the situation more peacefully.  
Of course, the best tool to cultivate this ability to observe is meditation. Many of you tell me that - for whatever reason - you "can't" meditate. IF that is a belief you have held about yourself, this would be a perfect example of your actual experience simply not matching up to your expectation of what the experience of meditation "ought" to be like. If you simply shift your expectation of what is "supposed" to happen, and allow what actually happens to be okay, all of a sudden you've just eliminated one situation which may be creating dissatisfaction in your life. It's important to recognize that nothing has actually changed. You've simply stopped believing something is "wrong".
This holiday season, why not claim an intention to release one expectation each day? It's usually pretty easy for us to find things about the day we don't like, because - if nothing else shows up to practice with - we can pretty much always count on other people to do things we don't like. When someone does or says something you don't like, pause for a minute and see if maybe the only thing that's really wrong is that you don't think they "ought" to do what they did. Were you really harmed? Does their behavior actually effect you? Maybe they scared you by cutting you off in traffic, or inconvenienced you by taking the last cup of coffee, or annoyed you by implying YOU weren't living up to THEIR expectations. But really- is it worth sacrificing your peace of mind?  
This willingness to allow yourself to release what does not support the calm peace of your soul, and learn to focus more on what DOES support the eternal Peace which is always present will, over time, transform your day-to-day satisfaction of life. I absolutely know that it's not easy, and it won't happen overnight.  
I continue to amaze myself at the often-ridiculous things I allow to upset me. Even when I recognize how goofy it is to become upset at what are, admittedly, really inconsequential events, recognition doesn't necessarily instantly transform my feelings. Willingness and intention eventually allow me to see what I'm doing to myself, and let it go. For today, at least. I may resist the same thing again tomorrow, and the day after that. But that seems to be how this human experience goes. I may not think it's how things "ought" to be, but it does seem to be the way things are. So for now, I'm just doing my best to live as though I can remember to center myself in peace at any moment I remember to do so. It's a work in progress, just like we all are.
Enjoy this season of Light!