I've started attending a monthly meditation class at Lazy Dog Studio in Roscoe, Il. The owner, Rachel Bixby, has been inviting a Buddhist monk to lead the class each month. (Check the website for next year's schedule) I decided that I needed a bit more mindfulness in my life, and this seemed like a good place to start.
Wonderful. This weekend's class was led by Bhante Sujatha, of Blue Lotus Temple, and it was truly a joy to participate. He started with a short talk and then followed with a half-hour of metta (loving-kindness) meditation. It was simple and basic, but spending a half hour just thinking good thoughts about my family, friends, and *gulp* humankind was a great way to stop and appreciate. Just sitting on the floor for half and hour was killer, and I'm starting to understand the idea of "yoga as a way to prepare the body for meditation." At eight minutes, I had to rearrange my blanket and myself against the wall because I can't sit unsupported for any longer than that. Whew.
Sujatha had such a nice message for the season, too. He reminded us that most of the stress from the holiday season comes from expectations; stop expecting and you will be much happier, or at least calmer. He said, "If you give a gift, then it must go away."--meaning that if you are truly giving, then you must not care about how the gift is received, whether happily, indifferently, or with disappointment. You can only control your own feelings about the gift, but nobody else's. Giving is a wonderful thing, and that you are giving is what you must take pleasure in. What happens after that, is not for you to worry about. (Unless you're giving Play-Doh, as I am, in which case you have a lot to worry about after that gift is opened...)
So, I want to pass that message on to you, as my Christmas gift: Enjoy the acts of giving this season and stop there. That you are able to gather something together and offer it to some one else is a beautiful gesture. Be happy that you can do that. May your giftees be gracious, but, if they're not, it's not your problem.
And if your giftees are armed with Play-doh, well, be grateful that it's machine-washable. Happy Holidays!