Every now and then when I meditate, I feel as if I’m floating in a vast space filled with light and beauty.
My breathing is so deep, I can feel the oxygen move through my body like liquid air, filling my lungs then continuing on along my spine and down my arms and legs. My body drinks it in hungrily, even as my mind blissfully empties — no disturbing thoughts or to-dos — just space and deep peace.
It’s wonderful and always leaves me thirsty for more. I can’t wait to get back to the mat and recreate the feeling for my next meditation.
But that never happens.
No matter how hard I focus, how long I sit, or how often I bring my mind back to my breath, I can’t replicate that beautiful expansive feeling on demand.
Only when I let go and allow the meditation time to be whatever it is — blissful, chaotic, or somewhere in between — do I truly reap the benefits of my practice. Only then am I prepared to accept whatever is, no matter how imperfect, to allow it to come and to allow it to go, without any inner struggle.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this phenomenon as we move closer to Christmas Day.
Many of us are expecting a Christmas that won’t be like prior celebrations. There will be fewer people around the table, a quieter home, and a longing to have those same happy experiences we did in past family get-togethers. We may even be alone.
It can be hard not to try to force the day to conform to what it has been in the past. It can be difficult not to struggle against the restrictions and limitations that COVID-19 has placed on us.
What I’ve learned from my meditation experiences is how much we lose in those moments of struggle against what is, and how much we gain when we let go and stay present to whatever is right now.
Holidays are stressful for many of us and can bring up complex feelings of sadness, anxiety, and anger. We’re so good at denying our emotions or judging ourselves for feeling them. What if we simply acknowledged them and allowed them to be without struggling against them?
That’s a Christmas gift we can all give ourselves.
This year, I hope to bring that feeling of allowing to my Christmas Day experience. I want to let go of making Christmas be, well, “Christmas.” It just might open the door to something new and beautiful.