The world around us reflects the world within. We see what we expect to see, people reflect back to us our histories, habits, and ways of being. Alcoholics Anonymous has a saying, “water seeks its own level.” In life, we gravitate to people and situations vibrating at the same frequency as the energy within us.
When we gather together with family for the holidays, we are often faced with deeply ingrained habits and ways of being reflected back to us by our family members. Perhaps these habits are buried deep within our subconscious and we are unaware of them. Perhaps they are modes of speech and behavior which used to be ours but that we have consciously let go. Whichever it is, family gatherings can be like the Mirror of Truth was for Atreyu in The Neverending Story.
Family members are sometimes able to trigger us more than anybody else. They remind us of who we were before we are who we are. The stuttering teenager, the unsure eight year old, the child full of possibilities and self-doubts. Sometimes, interactions with family will trigger a reaction that is outmoded and doesn’t fit with our current view of reality. I find it helps in these moments to maintain a connection to the breath and the heartbeat. It also helps to delay our reaction just long enough to notice what impulse we have within us struggling to be free. When we’re able to pause long enough to look at the knee-jerk reaction waiting to come out, we can gain some insight into some of this subconscious stuff that we carry around with us every day. With this insight, we can begin to unravel these tightly wound knots and breathe into them.
Just like a knotted muscle will release with patience, heat, and the breath, so will these reactions that no longer serve you. What many people don’t realize is that these reactions which come to the surface so easily with family may be affecting your other interactions more than you realize. Perhaps you’re snapping to quickly at your co-worker, or losing patience with the girl at the coffee shop and all this because it’s reflecting a time and place from your past that’s unresolved. By committing to staying concious and aware during the annual gathering of the tribe, we’re able to access a new layer of self-awareness and self empowerment.
Maybe we’re not being triggered, though, at the huge family gatherings. Maybe we’re just being annoyed by Aunt Mildred and her racism, or Grandma Dotty and her constant complaining. In these instances too, we can draw our attention inward and reconnect with the breath and reconnect with the heartbeat. As we’re able to make this connection to our own reactions inside, we’re able to also connect to the One Human Condition. Why the capitol letters, you say? Because it really is a state of mind that we each share. As we go through our lives, we are each faced with the same basic human challenges: the challenge to find love in a healthy way, the challenge to not get trapped in the negative mind, the challenge to authentically connect, the challenge to find one’s life path and commit to it. As we’re able to connect to this One Human Condition that we all share, we’re able to access compassion for Grandma Dotty and Aunt Mildred. Maybe we can even see a within ourselves a tendency to judge others to quickly or to complain rather than be grateful. As this compassion grows within ourselves, we’re a bit more gentle in our self-talk and a bit more patient with everybody around us.
May the season of light reflect back to you all the goodness of the present moment. Remember, the darkness cannot survive when the light shines on it.