You have the capability to make this a holiday season that you will never forget. All it takes is awareness, and a determination that with every step you take, you will create love and peace.
Too airy fairy for you? Nonsense. It’s good old-fashioned walking meditation, a practice I learned from Thich Nhat Hanh during a weekend retreat in the 1990s and a practice that you can put into effect effortlessly in this moment. Walking meditation is a way to calm the mind and relax the body while in motion.
My retreat was done in silence. All of those gathered practiced taking slow steps in silence, with the intention that each step was to be made in reverence to the sanctity of the earth upon which we walked. We were in nature, near woods and a pristine lake, grounds regularly used by monks deep in prayer and reflection. If we happened to pass by one another, we would acknowledge each other only with a bow, a silent namaste (na-ma-stay): "I honor the place in you where the spirit of the universe exists. When I am in that place in me, and you are in that place in you, then we are one."
Our leader in retreat, a noted author and teacher of mindfulness and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967, not only shared with us a way to walk in reverence of the earth and each other, but also how to eat with gratitude. He raised a plum in his hand. He encouraged us to look at the plum in our hand. The dark violet skin of the fruit reflected swirls of the cosmos. We smelled it. We carefully bit into it, and noted its wonderful taste. We were asked to consider how this plum came to be. Warmed by the sun, moistened by the rain, picked by hand, carried to market, chosen by hand, carried to the retreat and again chosen by the hand holding it now. We gave gratitude to everything that brought this plum to us, and we thanked the plum for sharing itself with us.
A day of mindfulness was a seed that has blossomed within me. It can do the same for you.
This holiday season, be mindful. Pay attention to the steps you take. Pay attention to the food you eat and the way in which you eat it. Pay attention to those you meet, and take the time to acknowledge the divine spark within each and every one, reflecting the divine spark that is most certainly within you.
Enjoy the holiday music in quiet reflection of the incredible gifts that you already have in your life. Enjoy the candles, and the holiday lights throughout your community, and know that they reflect the light of the creator, and the spark of light within your soul. Bundle up and walk mindfully in the chilled air, acknowledging the beauty around you.
Take off your watch and enjoy the silence. Even in a shopping mall, where chaos and the fever pitch of shopping escalate as the days near the end of the month, sit still and listen to your breath, listen to your heart, and know that even in this place, you can walk with reverence upon the earth and acknowledge the divine nature of every being who passes in your presence.
This holiday season, know the true meaning of love. And know that you are loved, unconditionally, by the universe. Not only are there scores of beings in spirit who love you dearly, but your link with humankind is a love connection. Like the cells of your body that work in harmony to support all that you are, know that each man, woman and child on the planet is part of a network of beingness interwoven into a tapestry of love incarnate.
It is easy to forget this connection. It is easy to forget mindfulness at a time when new things seem to be what we celebrate most. This holiday season, remember your divine nature and enjoy the opportunity to celebrate that.