Ah, the holiday season. Hustle and bustle abounds and the weather, at least here in the Twin Cities, is getting in on the fun. We've had nearly two feet of snow in the past 10 days and are on pace to break records for the snowiest December in recorded history. Not only has work been busy and taxing, but there's still the rest of life to tend to...right now occupied mainly by shoveling and last minute holiday preparations.
I've managed to keep up with my meditations, but only marginally. I've been taking for granted the fact that I've been doing daily meditation for nearly three months and allowing a quick five minute sit mere moments before I fall into a deep exhausted sleep to count for something. At least I'm showing up, I tell myself. But how present am I being, really? Aren't I just going through the motions? Is that OK?
But the real question that plagues me when life throws me every curve ball in the book is, "In times like this, where is the room for quiet time?"
It seems that when we need it the most, our quest for silence and reconnection gets cut. It's no problem to carve out time for meditation when life is reasonable and we have some time to spare. But how do we keep the priority intact when we can barely get the laundry done so we have something to wear to work tomorrow?
I think the answer is that we find our quiet time wherever we can get it. These are the times when we put meditation to work in our ever-chaotic, endless to-do-list, daily lives. Take a few conscious breaths while stopped at the stoplight. Offer a silent wish of loving kindness to the other people in line with you at the post office. Before pulling out the cell phone to multi-task while you drive, or turning on the radio, allow yourself to drive in silence...notice the scenery, the way the snow alights on the branches, the joy in how the dog out for a walk is wagging its tail. Find peace in the in-between moments. Let the love of life come to you.
The only way we don't have room for quiet time is if we forget that it is all around us if we open to it, if we choose it. It might come in fits and starts. It might be more challenging than we can imagine to focus on our breathing in the small moments available to us rather than turning over all our energy to our minds in hopes of keeping us on task with our duties in the world. Compassion with ourselves is key. We need to remember that connection is up to us.
Am I proud of my incredibly short and scattered meditations this week? No. I'd love to be able to sit longer and give 100% of my energy and my presence to the task at hand. But what I'm realizing is that maybe I am giving 100% -- 100% of what I have to offer in that moment. And that that's enough.
Because what about all the brief moments I remembered to stop during the day to breathe, to smile at others, to enjoy the beauty of the winter wonderland that surrounds me...even if that moment occurs while shoveling? Meditation means nothing if the practice of making room for connection doesn't spill over into our daily lives.
May your holiday be filled with the moments of peace that dance along naturally with the moments of chaos. May you make room for all that means the most to you this holiday season. And I will do the same.//