Monday, December 21, 2009


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 giftee
s 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!


YogaGal in the NW said...


Your postings are a beautiful gift.
I am very grateful for your writing.

Wishing you a joyful season,


Linda-Sama said...

Sujatha is a gift and I am blessed to have him as a teacher...I have known him for a long time now. We plan on doing some teachings together.

He is the one who named me Sama. I take the Precepts with him every year.

Jenn said...

Thank you so much for sharing this post! This is a time of year when I have to work really hard at my yoga off the mat. This post offered up much food for though as I work on finding more peace within the holiday season.

Blessed holidays to you Brenda!

Kitty said...

very insightful! thanks, love kitty

heather said...

Thanks so much for sharing, that is a message I needed to remember...I'm going to share with my class tonight.

Anonymous said...

Ah, how true. Give with open palms, not pulling back with fists.

I have more or less escaped the gift frenzy this year on account of being an orphan on the other side of the world from my family. It's made for a very enjoyable, very calm season so far. All the good cheer and none of the stress.

Love to you and yours Brenda!

Rebecca said...

Thank you so much for this beautiful holiday thought. Metta meditation touched me the moment I first learned about it, and it remains one of my favorite ways to reflect and open and be with the world. Thank you for the reminder of its power. And thank you as well for the reminder that all the yoga teaching, meditation, and mindfulness that we can muster does not change the fact that we live in modern American, armed with all sorts of things to knock us around, but most of it is machine-washable, and we can let it go. Happy Holidays!

Emma said...

it's good to be reminded that gifts need to be GIFTS, and not come with lots of ancillaries. thank you.



Dhana said...

Amen to that post!
The play-doh bit made me smile. We were recently on a 6 hour plane trip, it was my toddlers first time and she was, well, very excited! Folks on the plane saw me sweating and one of them came and gave me a tiny tin of play-doh, it was the most beautiful, graciously received gift I can remember getting. I don't think he wanted it back, it was an act of kindness, one that went all the way here to your blog! Namaste and thanks for your insights.