I’m in a season of learning to let go and relinquish what I cannot control. As I loosen my grip of my adult son so that he can step fully onto his journey, I simultaneously practice lifting him to the Light. Holding on and letting go is the sacred dance and rhythm of life. This season of life is harder than I anticipated. I want to hold hope in my heart as well as space to listen and respond in love, but often I find my heart overflowing with desire for connection and intimacy, as well as expectations and demands. I want to go deep quickly because our time together is always too short and divided too many ways. My heart holds hurt and disappointment at the fact that he doesn’t want to hunker down at home with his family. I want to see him and know the depths of his heart while he wants to hide and flee. As my heart breaks, I go into self preservation mode, get angry, and want to make him pay. My heart wants justice and tries to power up and put him back in line. Then there’s shame that follows… too much truth not enough grace. I understand why he doesn’t want to be around me.
I had an opportunity to practice the ministry of presence while driving my son back to college after Thanksgiving break. I wasn’t looking forward to spending 10 hours in the car, but I knew it would be a good time to sit side by side and serve him. It was a challenging week in which our connection and communication left much to be desired. As I got in the car, I set the intention of lowering my expectations and doing my best to just love him where he is at. I practiced holding my tongue and releasing him from the pressure of responding to my questions. As we sat together in the stillness, I focused my awareness on the light in me. Every time I wanted to change the radio station or ask a critical question, I paused and practiced only kindness. Something inside me softened and he sensed it. It was a sweet ride and we went our separate ways feeling loved and connected.
In the story of the first Christmas, there was no room in the inn for the newborn king. The savior of the world had to enter into a filthy barn with animals as roommates and straw for bedding. This gift of Joy for our world is still and always will be available. Too often, my heart is cluttered with noise and confusion, fear and busyness that I miss the sweet gift of Christmas. This year I am committed to receive the gift of peace and joy that is available every moment of the day. This is a powerful spiritual discipline called practicing Presence.
At the beginning of each yoga class, I invite students to arrive. As you sink your sitting bones into the earth and allow the roots to settle deeply into this time and space, you get the feeling of returning home. From this place of stability, you can finally start to expand in all directions. As you lengthen your spine and broaden your collarbones, your heart opens and you can begin to breathe fully. As you connect to your breath mindfully, you are choosing to be fully present in this sacred union of body, mind and the Holy Spirit which rides on the medium of the breath. This practice is centering. You can do it any place any time. It only requires that you choose to be fully present here and now. This practice changes everything!
We live in a world where life is moving at lightening speed. From the moment our feet hit the floor in the morning til we fall to our beds at night, we are on the go. We are always connected through the world wide web and yet have a sinking feeling of being dis-jointed or separated in some way. The cultural demands and speed are causing such great stress, that many people are suffering from adrenal fatigue and can’t stop their precious minds from spinning. Many people do not know how to get off of the hamster wheel of life. In John Ortberg’s book The Me I Want to Be, he talked about driving through the woods and reading a sign that stopped him in his tracks. It read: Caution! Speed Kills. Driving through winding roads at neck-breaking speed is very dangerous, but so is speeding through your day to day.
Why are we in such a hurry? What are we running toward or away from? What happens when you choose to stop? When I first began meditating, it felt like slamming on the breaks of the car. Although my body was still, everything inside kept moving. It is hard to sit with the discomfort of pain and uncertainty that fear brings. It feels like a waste of time to just sit there when there is so much to do. “What’s the point? I’m not even good at this!” I remember crying out to no one in particular. What I have learned is that if you can’t be present within your own self, there is no way that you will be able to sit with another in their discomfort.
We practice stillness so that we can experience our true and divine nature. “God is at home (within us) and we have gone out for a walk.” Meister Eckhart wrote. It is time to return home to Christ in ME – that still small voice that knows the way to profound peace and real and authentic connection. When we begin to bask in our true and divine nature we become lighthouses in dark spaces and our job is simply to sit and shine; reflecting the love and light of Christ to a dark and weary world.
This advent season, why don’t you try to DO less so you can BE more present, aware, kind and bright? It is a simple practice that we can return to moment by moment, breath by breath. Try this: Breathe in and invite the light to fill you. Pause and abide in this luminous light. Breathe out to release whatever stress or tension you are holding. Pause… and begin again!