Surviving Family Holidays, part 2

We know our relatives. We may not know their everyday detail stuff, but we know the stuff that counts. We know their history, their personality, their quirks. Which means, we know when something is up. Perhaps they are quieter than usual. Perhaps they are more negative than usual, or drinking more. Perhaps they are trying hard to be funny, or more short tempered than usual.

2,000 year-old advice number 2: Be aware of those who are suffering.

Notice there is no action being advised. We are to simply notice when our people seem a bit off. We are to bear witness, and that is all.

This also means we need to be aware of something else: our own reactions. Everyone has a “reaction type”. Maybe you tend to shake your inner head because people shouldn’t act that way. Maybe you find yourself getting short-tempered. Maybe you immediately go into advice mode. Whatever your “reaction type” is, yoga says it’s a lock. (Remember those locks we talked about last time?) If we are unaware of our reactions, we get locked into them.

And the key? Be aware of those who are suffering. Be aware of your own reactions. A friend of mine told me it’s sometimes called “holding space”. You notice that something is up, you hold back your own reaction, and you bear witness.

When you really think about it, that seems like a pretty loving thing to provide someone. You are seeing them - really seeing. You see their whole, perfectly imperfect humanity, and you stay the course.

Until next time,


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