Like many, I tend to over-indulge during the holidays. I’m anticipating over-indulging more than usual this year due to the heartache of missing family and our usual traditions. I will sorely miss sharing Midnight Mass at the Cathedral with my 90-year-old Dad and the requisite 2 am dessert and bad decaf that follow, shared at the kitchen table with him and Mom. (I confess that neither David, nor Smitty, nor I will miss squeezing ourselves into the teeny-weeny bed in their guest bedroom tonight for a few hours of half-hearted sleep.) But I will miss waking up to Mom and Dad’s outrageously lively banter and annoyingly cheerful “Good morning!” It may have driven me crazy as a teenager, but now I adore it, even as it wakes me from sleep.
The pandemic will keep David and Smitty and me at home this year. We will livestream Midnight Mass, sit by the fire, decorate the tree belatedly, listen to Christmas music, exchange gifts. In the morning I’ll lead meditation and celebrate with the online community I’ve come to love and appreciate so much.
AND I will surely drink more eggnog and eat more bread than I intend. And – I’m saying it here – I will endeavor NOT to berate myself – neither now, nor then, nor later. I am – shall we say – granting myself a pre-emptive pardon.
My body and I have spent too much of this life being on “opposing sides”. At this point, I wish to befriend my body with the same unconditional love and acceptance, which I try to offer my most cherished of friends, my dog, my partner. I wish to call a lasting truce between us, to assure this most-treasured and intimate of companions that I love it no matter what shape it’s in – whatever the weight, the fitness level, the state of flexibility, the injury or disease.
As Swami Karmananda Saraswati, says:
Do not fight your body. Do not carry the world on your shoulders like Atlas. Drop that heavy load of unnecessary baggage and you will feel better.
Do not kill the instinct of the body for the glory of the pose. Do not look at your body like a stranger, but adopt a friendly approach toward it. Watch it, listen to it, observe its needs, its requests, and even have fun. Play with it as children do…
To be sensitive is to be alive.
I offer you this same wish. If you and your body are not on the best of terms these days, or if post-holiday guilt should hit, remember, be friendly toward your body. Send it some unconditional love and thank it for all it’s done for you all these years. Whatever state it may be in – good or bad – it’s the only one we get, so be kind to it.
And while we’re at it, let’s try to extend that same kindness to our loved ones, to our neighbors and, perhaps most importantly, to those we don’t look upon with “fondness.” Those who express no desire for our compassion are often the ones who need it the most.