It's often the case that we reflect on ways to help each other during the Holidays, whether it's donating some time to help serve meals to those in need, running errands for someone who is homebound, or simply donating our time to be with people who could use some company, such as those in retirement homes or hospitals.
Giving the gift of support, through physical or personal donations is a wonderful way to create a sense of connectedness with others and foster community on all levels. Gifts of this kind can take the form of specific events, such as making a special trip to a senior center to sing holiday songs with the residents, or helping to collect and distribute gifts through your community organization.
Gifts of Peace can also take a much smaller, more subtle form. They can be given in very small packets of attention, listening, and validating others. When someone approaches you with a worried look on their face, tension in their voice, and anxiety in their mind, listening with attention and compassion might be all that is needed to open up their hearts. This simple act can be one form of mindfulness-based meditation. When those around us are nurtured, we feel nurtured as well.
Embodying tenderness in all that you do, can have ripple effects that extend into the world, well beyond the physical limits of your immediate world. Walking through the world with a smile on your lips and openness in your eyes can affect everyone you touch in ways that are profound. Giving this kind of peace is not something that is usually noticed, but it is felt.
As you drive to your appointments this holiday season, think of every driver as your dear friend. Perhaps they need to get somewhere quickly, which is why they need to speed around you or get into that parking spot. Let them. Create space for peace by allowing others to flow around you. See them as members of your family who might need more understanding and support at this time. Give them the peace you carry in your heart. You will never run out!
One of the best ways to give peace, is to not take things personally when something unexpected or undesirable happens. Keep in mind that you have expectations. (We all do). But it is only when you compare your expectations with what actually happens that you might become frustrated and upset. When we accept the world as it is, we will never be upset - because we are always starting from the situation that is. This does not mean that we do not strive to improve, only that we are not caught up in comparing what we wanted to have happen with what is happening, which is pointless and often stressful.
Give peace by listening to someone talk without judging their circumstances or trying to 'fix' their problems. Listen with an open heart and mind, making eye contact and finding the bright spots in what the share. Often, people focus on their problems, but it is impossible for someone to know what his problems are unless he also has some idea of that the solutions! (otherwise he would simply accept the situation as normal).
Give peace by not engaging in positions of tension. Someone might say something with which you disagree. That's OK. Is it important to defend the opposite position at that time? What is more important, to be 'right' or to be at peace? If you can, allow others to have their opinions and focus on what you both enjoy. Celebrate the good that you both see in the world. Often, when we remove our 'problems' we find love - for love is at the core of creation. Love is the heartbeat of the universe - the 'one song' that we all sing each day.
Give peace to yourself by having compassion for the child inside you that is doing the best he/she can. Allow yourself to make mistakes and laugh at yourself -because you know that life is about trying things, making discoveries, and exploring the boundaries of the imagination. Life is not a performance. It is an adventure - and adventures are marked by surprises. Enjoy them and be grateful.
Give peace to the planet by being a stuart of all your relations. Take care of every being you encounter, every form of life, and every phase of life. See the stages of the manifested world as one dance, moving in harmony, you with your place and everything else with its place, interconnected and interdependent. Know that, by offering peace, you are creating peace for yourself. Be peaceful and the world will reciprocate.
Blessings to you this holiday season.
May you be peace!