I am not perfect. Especially not at Christmas. There is a lot of pressure that builds up when I think about Christmas; all the cooking, all the gifts, the wrapping, school celebrations, church. I feel pressured to rejoice, be happy, and be reflective.
My memories of Christmas are not all joyful and happy, so I developed a great apprehension of fear towards the Holidays.
This year I feel like something in me is different. I have come across this “thing” called Loving-Kindness Meditation. Its intention is to strengthen feelings of kindness toward others.
I am a survivor and a fighter. I feel like I always had to get by on my own, fight my way through life. There was nobody who had the time to be kind to me. When I was younger I was very hard on myself, as I grew older and moved away from home, I did not really fit in. Then people tried to take advantage of me, because I guess it appeared as though they could. Then I felt like I had to be something I wasn't in order to succeed. I believed that I had to fight against all odds, never really knowing how to stand up for myself.
This made me callus and maybe cold, withdrawn in a way. Experiences really cut you and leave marks. They shape your memory, your behavior, your personality, and it all boils up on Christmas.
Loving-Kindness Meditation starts out with YOU; sending love and kindness to yourself. Then you try to visualize someone in your life from the present or the past that genuinely cared about your happiness. You visualize them sitting right in front of you, smiling at you and wishing you joy and happiness. You feel it radiating even though it might have been years, decades since you have seen this person.
Then you send out the same feelings to a person that you feel like needs it the most, that challenges you the most, that wrenches your heart if they come to mind. (The order of people you intend to touch varies, and is up to you.)
You visualize them sitting right across from you and you radiate those same feelings out towards them.
You might think: how can that have any impact on them?!
It does, because it has an impact on you. You open up new ways of understanding and accepting them for who they are. You can't change them, but you can change yourself.
This meditation has given me the opportunity to open myself up to all the people in my life who have caused me pain, but also to those who wished me well, and have been good to me. Without any of them I would not be who I am today.
I can even extend these feelings towards Christmas. If I extend my thoughts as “May you be well, may you be happy, may you be peaceful, may you be loved” I can wash away the fears of the past and accept Christmas for what it is: a time to be happy, thankful, a time to be together with my family, and celebrate.
This year I take Christmas for what it is, and not for what my memories shaped it into.
May you have a loved, peaceful, and happy Merry Christmas.