In the West the marketing machine has turned Christmas into an opportunity to increase the corporate bottom line. Marketers will try every trick in the book to seduce you into feeling inadequate, or at the very least make you feel guilty about not buying useless gifts for your friends, relatives, or loved ones. Giving gifts is simply a way of expressing how we feel about someone else in the material realm. Yet in all the clutter of gift giving we overlook the reality of what it means to give. We substitute material things for our feelings, emotions, and deepest desires. This holiday season try giving gifts which are of the personal and spiritual realm. Give yourself…
1. Presence (Not Presents)
This festive season be present when you are with friends, relatives, and loved ones. How often are you distracted by some techno gadgetry, not being mindful when you are with others? Our mind is often somewhere else and we are not present. Mastery is about letting go of time and being in the now, the present, the moment. Masters do not squander the moment by looking backwards or forwards, but instead remain aware of and acknowledge that the most important thing is this moment. We can only experience the reality of mastery in the realm of the present, for it does not exist in the past. We can only experience love, compassion, the environment, and the universe at this very moment. All else is an illusion. As the Buddha communicated, “Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” So when you are spending time with loved ones or friends, be there, be present, and give them your undivided attention. One of the best gifts you can give to others is yourself in that moment, for it is all we have…
2. A New Experience
We all have traditions we participate in over the holiday season, but many of our activities have become a result of either conditioning, an inability to think and be creative, or just plain old laziness. Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this activity and does it bring me enjoyment and connection? Am I just going through the motions?” Why do we do the exact same thing year in and year out? How much television will you watch over the festive season (especially those in cooler climates of North America) or how many movies will you plough through over the holidays? This year, why not try something different? Explore nature with your friends, family, and loved ones. Go for a walk in a forest or on a beach, or have a picnic in nature. By releasing preconceived ideas about what you should do, by releasing the attachment we have to certain beliefs and behaviours, we can experience life more fully and embrace new experiences. So try new things and don’t be scared to let yourself be free from old habits and mundane behaviours.
3. Be True to Others and Be Yourself
Over the festive season we come into contact with relatives and loved ones whom we haven’t seen for months, years, or even longer periods. We can put up fronts and personas which are efforts to protect ourselves and feed our ego. Let go of the Ego and Just be Yourself. This is one of the best gifts we can offer to others. Being true to who we are and not letting societal norms or conditioning influence how we behave and react is an expression of love. Let go of the idea we need to impress others. We need to impress no one.
As a society we have become concerned with having the latest fashions, looking a certain way, and impressing others. What for? Who cares? We are trying to fulfil other people’s expectations of us, this doesn’t really make any sense. It just drives us to distraction, always trying to prove ourselves to others. Even when we succeed at creating the right look, social status, image, or whatever it is we are trying to achieve, most people don’t notice. So why bother? We are wasting precious time and energy. Would it not make more sense to focus our attention toward a worthy cause as opposed to superficial tendencies? So this holiday season just be yourself and let go of the BS; show people who you really are by being compassionate, kind, and loving…
4. Expressing Love
Human beings at a basic level have one sole purpose — to love and be loved. In much of the West, however, whatever we do, whether we are aware of it or not, we do with the underlying motive of hoping to find love and happiness. Deep down there is truly only one thing that drives human beings. It is the desire to experience the ultimate feeling of love. You don’t have to resort to buying and consuming stuff to be truly happy, this is merely a symptom of lack of love in one’s life. For many of us, we hide our true feelings and do not express our innermost desires and feelings to the ones we love. We bottle up these emotions, becoming distracted in mindless chit-chat and social etiquette which ultimately masks our true innermost feelings. So this festive season sit down with someone to whom you rarely express how you feel and just be straight with them. Tell them how you feel about them and why they are important to you. This could be the greatest gift you ever give….
Excerpts from One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future…
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