Have you ever noticed how expectations affect your life during the holidays?

Thinking about what may or may not happen as the holidays approach-with our family, other people or the possibility of being alone when we’d rather not be-pulls us into confusion as thoughts circle around our history, creating both hopes and fears.

Living with awareness, we can find other ways to be with expectation. Acknowledging the presence of our hopes and fears, we can let them pass through the mind. Letting hopes and fears simply pass through the mind neutralizes their power over us. Or, we might explore the nature of the beliefs behind our hopes and fears, and experience what is. Then, we can be more open to whatever happens.

Not feeding fears and hopes makes it easier to be with what is in a loving way. If the holiday time is fun, we can fully experience our feelings of joy. And if we don’t get exactly what we’d like during the holidays, we can still be aware and open; bringing flexibility, patience and compassion into whatever happens.

And then this holiday time can feel like a gift to ourself and everyone we meet.

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Try this the next time you are aware that you feel stressed and want to quiet down the inner chaos quickly. Walking, driving, standing still or sitting, quietly say while breathing in, "I am breathing in, and I am at peace." Say while breathing out, "I am breathing out, and I am at peace." Focus attention on what happens. If you become distracted, simply return your focus to your words and notice what's happening within. Repeat until you notice a shift, and are ready to stop. The cells of the body receive thought as instruction, and they are willing followers to whatever we think. Saying we are at peace allows the body to shift from feeling rushed around, to slowing down, so we can feel quieter inside. With the goal of maintaining balance in all things, use this practice with care, and let awareness be your guide. Sometimes this practice is helpful, and other times, it can be used to distract us from exploring mistaken beliefs that keep us rushing around. Remembering awareness is a gift to yourself and others.

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