This past holiday season, I had an epiphany about Presence. And Presents.
I grew up in a middle class American household. We showed love and appreciation by exchanging gifts. My brother and I asked for things and were trained that if we were ‘good’ we’d get stuff. I learned that ‘stuff’ was the reward in life.
I’ve since stopped being enamored by ‘stuff’. So this holiday season when I was thinking about what I could buy for the people in my life to show them I love, care about, and appreciate them, I stopped.
I realized that a piece of me would be more meaningful than anything that I could buy.
I also noticed that the holidays were always a blur, run here, do this, buy that, eat more. I was doing all the things, seeing all the people, yet was never truly present for any of it.
There had to be a better way.
Our frenzied holiday rituals have evolved for many reasons, and I was interested in exploring just one. The one that I could change. My conditioning. I was trained that shopping, excess and crazy making at the holidays is normal. That’s nuts, and it’s what I learned growing up, so it’s what I do. But I started asking, does it have to be?
So I began questioning, and questing.
Do I have to stuff myself with food and drink and over buy useless things? What does it do for me? Does it prove that I’m successful, that I’m worthy or that I love someone?
Adding presence (i.e. unlearning hustle culture) not only provided more sustenance for my soul, but also more sustenance for those I love.
What a shift. It transformed my holidays.
Often we’re more motivated to change when it affects the ones we love, and our ability to be present has a far-reaching, positive ripple effect. It enriches the lives of everyone around us.
This is not just something to practice at the holidays, it has an impact year ‘round. Here’s a few small ways you could try it out in your own life, today:
- put your phone away to enjoy a connected meal with your spouse
- respond more lovingly to your children because you took time to meditate this morning
- open more creativity at your corporate round table because you spent part of your lunch break in silent reflection
Another option would be taking a lesson from nature. That’s one of the things I’ve been doing. I’ve been tuning into her cycles of energy. Like in winter, which we’re experiencing here in the Midwest, the days are shorter and the nights are longer. Nature uses this time for hibernation, for going within. So I’ve adopted that mindset as well. Instead of dwelling on the absence of light and thinking of all the things I could be doing if it were warmer and sunnier, I’m investing in my own inward journey and focused on rest, rejuvenation, and re-connection.
It’s actually applying the same realization, and process, from the Holiday Season. I got “present”.
We live in a culture that encourages and glorifies high paced action, instant gratification, and outward stuff. In all the noise of efficiency and hustle, we lose ourselves and we get distracted from, or never even get to hear, our deep inner knowing. When we stop, or at least slow down enough, and create space to listen and feel, then we are able to tune in to what our inner guidance really is trying to say.
Real transformation is a result of presence.
Presence allows awareness, and without awareness we can not change. Without change, we repeat the same thoughts, habits, and actions day after day. Then we wake up one day feeling stuck, wondering how we got there.
Are you ready to get unstuck? Invest part of your day in tuning out the outer world and tuning into your inner knowing. You will be amazed at the person you are.