Here’s a thought: give yourself a gift.
I just gave myself a birthday gift of a daylong retreat, “Cultivating an Inclusive Heart,” with Sharon Salzberg and Sylvia Boorstein. It seemed mildly radical to take a whole day to myself at the very start of December, the busy month, the month of giving and giving and giving and giving.
Due to my health challenges, I’m a little protective, even apprehensive, about overcommitting. Would I manage the whole day okay? Or would I be so tired I would have to come home? (And why, by the way, was I trying to sabotage my desire to go to this retreat?)
Oooh, I managed just fine. At the end of the day, which included hanging out with dear dharma buddies from my meditation community who were there, too—such precious moments together!—I felt utterly marvelous: nourished, serene, deeply calm and grateful.
Someone asked me, but how did you feel the day after? Anticipating, it seemed, a negative response… but truly I felt wonderful the day after, and the day after that!
What I want to share is what a difference one day can make! Doing something that truly nourishes you, that fills your mind and heart.
Sharon shared from Jewish liturgy,
Purify my heart
So I may truly serve.
Make me an instrument of thy peace.
These very wise and wonderful women taught, Compassion is not passive. It’s an embodied state. They defined it as,
– A trembling of the heart.
– A movement toward the question, how can I help?
There’s true poignancy here! We’re all really very vulnerable. Life can change just like that—a very good reason to have greater compassion for all, including yourself.
Sylvia’s version of The Four Noble Truths, the Buddha’s fundamental teachings, in a nutshell: “Life is really hard. Don’t make it worse!”
Rather than wishing life was different (which it can’t be, this is the deal); rather than clenching, resisting, and clinging to resentments and judgments and disturbances; try to simply open your heart: “May I meet this moment fully. May I meet it as a friend.” Ahhhh. I love this.
What do you love to immerse yourself in? Perhaps you can gift yourself a retreat, of whatever sort you would like, if not now, then in the new year. A dear friend is traveling to a painting retreat in a beautiful place for the second new year in a row. What would nourish you and bring you joy? I wish that for you. 🙂