The holidays are here, and they are marvelous! Who does not love the idea of bringing the family together from far reaches to create new memories and reminisce about past celebrations? This is a time of nostalgia! This is a time of love! Sadly, though, this is also a time of high-flying emotion, dredged up resentment, and familial power struggles. No one intends for the gatherings to take this turn, but so frequently it comes to pass.
In a family like mine, the anxieties take root when the first holiday plan of the year is made. But this season, in the face of this impending disaster, I am determined to find a way to avoid drama and maintain sanity. My yearning for calm reminded me of something that I used to consider very cheesy—the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Reading these words as I am about to reunite with my kinsmen, these three ideas actually seem very yogic and introspective. Belief systems aside, this is a 3-step meditation for establishing inner peace and surviving the holidays. I wonder at myself for not understanding the value of this mantra until now.
God, grant me the…
1) Serenity to accept the things I cannot change
Families provide us with many givens. We cannot change who is in our family. We furthermore have no power over others’ emotions or personalities. All feelings are valid, and they must be allowed. This holiday season, make it a point to accept others for who they are. Be present in the moment, and acknowledge that others are existing the best way they know how.
2) Courage to change the things I can
Change can be difficult at this time of year, as the holidays revolve around tradition—change’s
opposite. This does not mean, however, that change is impossible. If a good and necessary change can take place, a solid, positive, mindful, and open approach can bring families together rather than holding them apart. When undertaking a change, have the courage to be a positive player in that transition. If nothing else, it is important to remember that one always possesses the power to change oneself.
3) Wisdom to know the difference.
Wisdom is the great challenge. We can know something thoroughly and absolutely, only to realize that we know nothing. And so, take this step cautiously because it is, in truth, the key to the whole process. Before deciding whether to accept or change, make a generous assessment of the elements at play. Think heavily on the mat, take a deep breath, become present with the moment and the people, and recognize the wisdom that reveals itself.
Families are the foundation of our world. They are a built-in support system, an infrastructure for basic existence. They are a primary source of love and care. Because they are so important, they are also a primary source of stress and angst, particularly around the ever-important holidays. Use this meditation to establish and maintain a place of calm inside. Keep this mantra in the front of the mind. Relish the warm serenity, deep courage, and new wisdom that will settle in the heart. Let it fortify the sense of inner peace that is necessary as loved ones come together. This holiday season, I welcome the emotions and experiences that will present themselves. A source of calm and soothing is necessary and often rare. Be that source.
— Ammie Kinsman