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Navigating The Holiday

Navigating The Holiday

Ram Dass famously said,

“If you think you are enlightened, go and spend a week with your family.” 

Read that statement again.

Now let's talk Thanksgiving, America's holiday kick-off party.

Thanksgiving is truly a beautiful celebration of American culture - a perennial remembrance of family bonds, shared traditions based around foods, and often a return to the environments of our youth.

And not for all, but for many.... Thanksgiving brings up feelings of discomfort, constraint, or stress.  

Family bonds are the most fundamental (1st chakra) relationships in our lives. Literally the deepest, longest connections we have with other people. Our parents/care-givers created us, nurtured us as children, and watched us form into adults. 

And then we left home & we expanded.

We learned. We partied. We loved. We had our hearts broken. We succeeded. We failed. We lost ourselves. We found ourselves. We did drugs. We came out. We got married. We had kids. We got divorced. We moved cities and countries. We climbed mountains. We got sick. We went through depressions. We were prescribed medication. We built careers. We were fired. We found yoga and meditation. Some of us went to Burning Man. 

Every one of us has been through so much.

And are constantly changing... as are our parents and siblings. And now we all get together for an extended dinner or perhaps weekend, like we always have. It feels so familiar and natural yet at the same time it's different (We're different). For some it's uncomfortable, for others, triggering, and others stressful... but for sure, Thanksgiving is not smooth sailing for everyone. And if it's smooth for you, what a blessing to acknowledge.

Here are 5 family dynamics to navigate this week:

  1. Outdated roles. In returning to our childhood environments, we rub up against younger versions of ourselves and the group can collectively slip into decades-old roles, because we relate to each other's previous ways of behaving/living. This regression is especially pronounced when the whole family unit is together. 
  2. Unsaid truths. Many of us have things that we've never expressed to our parents or family, and they to us. Perhaps we or they have yet to make major disclosures about  who we've become, or we simply haven't articulated preferences of communication.
  3. Charged topics. As adults, all of us have developed understandings of ourselves and the world which can be at odds with how we were raised, and of our closest relations. Engaging in conversations around politics, environment, social issues can be triggering... because in our daily lives we're usually surrounded by likeminded people.
  4. Shutting down. In uncomfortable settings, it's often easier to shut down than engage. Wine, over-eating, and superficial conversation (or arguments) all contribute to the avoidance of real intimacy. It might be you who shuts down, or others in your family. If anyone in your family closes off, the energy flow is impacted negatively. 
  5. Food. If you're intentional with what you put in your body, Thanksgiving is not a food-conscious holiday. The amount, quality, and processed nature of the food leaves everyone feeling pretty bad, if they're honest. It's actually never positive to feel sleepy and lethargic after eating. 

    Each dynamic could use an entire blog post, so perhaps it's beneficial to share 5 Mindfulness Tips that can apply to Thanksgiving & beyond:

    1. Acknowledge everyone is doing the best they can with what they've got.
    2. Connect to the feeling of Gratitude to tap into the intelligence of the heart (this holiday IS called Thanksgiving, after all).
    3. Remember that roles are assumed, they are not who you are. Who you are can never be threatened, or harmed.
    4. Communicate authentically from a space of sharing, not from being right or from an effort to convince.
    5. Be genuinely curious and ask questions about people's lives to get beyond superficial topics (that don't matter anyways). 

    Applying these tips will change your experience (not just on Thanksgiving), but there's yet another challenge...

    How do we remember them in the momentWhen we're at the table. When we feel blocked from expressing ourselves. When we're triggered by a statement. When someone is triggered by our statement. 

    It does wonders to set intentions to remember who we are and to step into this conscious version of ourselves.

    At Modern ŌM, that's what we do. 


    Upward & Inward,

    Myk, CEO (@myklikes)

    If you thought this article was insightful or useful, feel free to share it with someone. 
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