Holiday Agreements

December 13th, 2011

Now is the time to make sure that you are prepared for the Holidays in EVERY way; mind, body and spirit in complete agreement. As well as preparing food, gifts and schedules, prepare yourSELF so that the Holidays can be ALL that you want them to be. Make an agreement to be the person you want to be, and don’t let anyone or anything unsettle your highest intentions. Take a moment to say this affirmation of your highest self by Marianne Williamson.

Make sure you breathe deeply throughout the season. If you feel yourself becoming unsettled, take a literal breather from family or party conversations, and breathe your way back to stillness. In your conversation, in your gifts, in your food preparation, in your relaxing, in your preparations for the New Year, be at ONE with yourself.

Introduce a breathing practice into your day and watch your energy increase, your mood improve, your body strengthen, your mind sharpen and your spirit revive. Start now and be prepared for The Holidays. Combine a breathing practice with don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements to prepare for an awesome Holiday season.

1. Don’t make assumptions
Before you see family, take some cleansing breaths. Breathe out assumptions, and breathe in acceptance.

Albert Einstein said, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” The story that you tell yourself about family is persistent and makes all the sense in the world to you. But what if most of it is an illusion? What if it’s based on the prequel to now, an old story? Take the opportunity this year to write a new family history.  This will require letting go of some assumptions.

An old Buddhist tale tells of two monks traveling through woods. They come upon a woman standing at the bank of a river. She needs to get across, but is unable to make it alone. The elder of the two monks picks her up and carries her through the rushing water. Once they’re all on the other side, the woman leaves the monks. The younger monk is stunned at these events. They’re not allowed to touch women so intimately, and he doesn’t know what to make of his older friend’s behavior.

Finally, after stewing over the incident for several miles, he says to his traveling companion, “How could you touch that woman back at the river the way you did? Have you no respect for our vows?” The elder monk turns to his young friend and says, “Are you still carrying that woman? I put her down at the river bank over an hour ago.”

What story about family are you carrying into this holiday season? There may even be some truth to the story, but it’s still a story and its not written in stone. You choose whether you carry assumptions into the holidays or start afresh. Breathe new life into family by letting go of the stories and assumptions that drag you down.

2. Don’t take things personally
How much of the tension you feel around family are you making about yourself? It might not be about you at all. Take some cleansing breaths before seeing family. Breathe out drama. Breathe in acceptance.

An Irishman once came upon two people brawling in the street and asked, “Is this a private fight or can anyone get involved?”

The same thing with family often happens with family. When someone is pushing your buttons, most of the time they are involved in their own drama. Is there anything gained by getting involved? Just smile and breathe and move away.

You don’t need drama to feel alive and important. You are alive and important because you house divine love in your mind and body. Drama doesn’t help you to thrive. It distracts you from your essence as a vessel of peace in the world.

Try this visualization to prepare for The Holidays.

3. Speak the truth
Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Before you see family, breathe out pretense and breathe in authenticity.

Commit to high levels of authenticity and honesty. More good comes from facing and healing hurt feelings  than trying to save face. Speak your mind, and share your truth clearly.

What if others are behaving badly or holding onto old hurts? Know your own boundaries with family, be clear about them, and stick with them.

There is a powerful scene in the movie The Family Stone. With all the Stone family home for the holidays, including a narrow minded and uptight new girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker), the dinner scene is explosive when the girl friend suggests that a gay couple should think twice about adopting a child in case the child becomes gay. She suggests that being gay is abnormal and is a challenge that people don’t need in life. Her opinion is like a red rag to a bull at this table. Various people around the table try to save the situation with humor, until Mr. Stone slams his fist on the table and says “Enough!” He won’t allow this talk in his home.

Maybe there will come a time for you to say “enough!” this holiday season. Thrive in your own truth this season.

Vietnamese Zen Teacher Thich Nhat Hahn offers this reminder:

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech . . . I vow to cultivate loving speech. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering . . . I vow to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain, and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or community to break.

4. Do your best
We’re all human and we all make mistakes. The question is how forgiving you will be – with yourself and with others. Your life experience to date brings you to this point. Your accumulated wisdom and strength enable you to bring your best to this moment. Do your best, stop expecting perfection and your best will be enough.

Choose to thrive this Holiday season. Choose to breathe new life and spirit into the traditions and relationships that are important to you. Breathe in peace and breathe out drama. You don’t need drama. It doesn’t help you to thrive. It’s a distraction from your essential purpose on earth, which is to live and love fully and liberate others to do the same.

In the words of the Tao Te Ching, “’Do your best then step back. This is the only path to peace.”

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  1. Tryn Rose says:

    Thank you Ian. I felt comforted when I read this. Breathing is such a good idea!

    And those with dementia may stress holiday visitors, unless you equip them for success. Invite them to arrive with good stories (words, photos, newspaper articles, yearbook famous moments) to share about that person’s life, even put out a journal that any can write some stories down during their visit. Then, not only are good stories being told now, they can be revisited and enjoyed in the future, any time one needs a good story.

    Happy holidays!

  2. Lesley says:

    I really enjoy your posts, Ian, thank you.   Here’s another “breathing” thought I love, both sides connected with positive thought: “Breathe in truth, breathe out love.”

  3. Agreements says:

    Awesome and It helps me to enhance my knowledge thanks for the holiday day <a href=””>Agreements</a>!!

  4. Heulwen Renshaw says:

    Thanks Ian, I really need to align my thinking and feelings. 

  5. Sally says:

    Excellent Ian, families are a challenge.

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