I enjoy the holidays and the fond memories they bring to mind. I am one of those women who likes to be organized for the holidays, well prepared before they arrive. In years past, I’d have a goal for myself to have the gift shopping done by Thanksgiving. This way I could enjoy the month of December; play with my kids, bake, gather with friends, and savor the sights, sounds and smells of the season— without succumbing to the hustle and bustle of it all.
And yet, there is a whisper inside of me that cautions me not to place so much attention on finding the perfect holiday gift for everyone. Most recently, I find myself thinking, instead, about intangible, “boxless” presents we could exchange with one another. Considering, what things mean the most to us? What would we like to receive from someone else? I know what I’d like to receive from the loved ones in my life. I’d like to be given the gift of their time. In my view, there is no better gift than being able to spend time with the people I love.
Moving through life at the pace we are, it's our free time that becomes a precious commodity. Might it be possible this year to ditch the "To-Do" List and create a “To Be” list for ourselves—a roster of all the ways we can be with the important people in our lives—giving the holiday gift of our presence instead?
What might be on your “To Be” list? Perhaps a leisurely walk with someone who needs a listening ear; reading a book with a grandchild; reliving old memories perusing photo albums with an aging parent or grandparent; a phone call to a childhood friend (or someone with whom you’ve lost touch). These are the things that mean the most: the gifts of listening, caring, and presence. They are things that cannot be wrapped in pretty paper and placed under the Christmas tree. They are entities of enduring value. They are also memories in the making, gifts that will last and last.
Time moves quickly. Life is short. When all is said and done and we look back upon our lives, what we’ll remember most are the people with whom we spent our days and nights. We will recall the warm hugs of friends, children, and grandchildren; hearty conversations at the dinner table; the late nights we shared comforting one another through the ups and downs of life.
It’s interesting isn’t it, the similarity in these two words: “presents” and “presence”? Which would you prefer to receive? If gift giving is at the top of your priority list, my hope for you this holiday season is that you will dig deeper than your pocketbook and creatively design some quality time--the gift of presence—for the important people in your life. And that you will receive some in return, as well.
©2016, Janice L. Lundy
Savor the Days with Me
The "Season of Light" is upon us. Are you feeling busy and overwhelmed? Stop, breath, take 5 minutes with me each day to enjoy a period of ritual and prayerfulness "bearing the Light."
12 days with 12 short, candle-lighting rituals with meaningful prayers for keeping "what matters most" front and center. Begin today and rededicate yourself to cultivating presence in this holiest of seasons.
What Are You Pointing Yourself Towards? Choosing a Virtue of the Spirit to Guide You in 2014 - Part I
There's great benefit in going with the flow.
There's also something to be said about pointing yourself in a certain direction, especially when it comes to the spiritual life.
The mind is fickle and untrained. It goes wherever it wants to go and takes us right along with it. It requires discipline to stay attuned to the path of the soul.
Each January, I take a time of reflection to ponder this. And to ask myself what my soul is really calling me to. What "Virtue of the Spirit" would I like to cultivate within me this year?
This year the answer came fairly easily and quickly: Love. Though I have to admit there was a bit of unsettled energy around it. Just Love? Was that enough?
Love is one of the most misunderstood of Virtues because its essence is often forgotten—left in the dust of our efforts to find romantic love, the perfect partner, the one—our soul mate.
It became clear, however, that the Love to be claimed as a focal point for me for 2014 was not this kind of human-to-human love, but an all-encompassing Love (Love with a capital "L"). It is the Love I associate with the Divine One Itself—the All of Our Existence, the Sacred, the Holy—the "God" of our understanding.
In my view, this Love is the ultimate, because it lives within us and can be made manifest in all our relationships, as well as surrounding us and enfolding us. Sometimes I even think of it as the "glue" that holds us all together.
As I sat and pondered this in the early wintry days of January, a word came to me. And when it came I knew that it was to be the guiding force of this year—and perhaps, for the rest of my life on earth: Spacious Love.
Spacious Love, when accessed, feels to me like a great inner ocean of affection and connection; a sacred cavern within me that is so large and open that it can hold everything and everyone. It welcomes every experience we have and everyone who enters in; received with with tender regard, wholesomeness, and appreciation.
This is the mind and heart state to which I aspire. In 2014, I will be pointing myself in this direction again and again until there are no more closed doors or windows to my heart.
Take some time right now to reflect on and discern what your Virtue of the Spirit will be for 2014.
What does your heart know and what are you willing to point yourself toward to make your life an embodiment of the Sacred?
Stay tuned for Part II to learn HOW to point yourself toward and stay faithful to this Virtue all year long.
This post is Part II of an offering on Happiness. What is it, really? How do we "achieve" it? Is it even something to be achieved?
I maintain that happiness is a habit, and one that we cultivate from the inside out. The more we practice this habit, the happier we are—in a long-lasting way. The problem is knowing how, which I address in m
If you missed Part I of this conversation, you can find it here.
Your Most Predominant Mind Pattern
Each of us has very specific ways in which our mind works. We have deeply embedded patterns, story lines, likely sourced in childhood events, that have become habituated ways of thinking—and they tend to run us. And they cause undue stress. AND they keep us from experiencing happiness!
For example, many women have “worry mind.” We incessantly mull over what might happen in the future to ourselves, or to our loved ones. Another pattern is “busy mind.” With the frenetic pace of our lives, this is not surprising. The faster we go, the busier our minds get. “Busy mind” can cause anxiety levels to escalate. Both of these mind patterns can be extremely debilitating, causing severe stress, culminating in poor health.
One of my predominant mind patterns is “planning mind.” Being a teacher by training and calling, I often find myself lost in thought, creating lesson plans for an online class I teach, blog posts, or simply planning out my life months ahead of time. I seem to think that allowing my mind to behave in this way will bring peace of mind. In reality, it often creates feelings of anxiousness or overwhelm.
What would be one of yours?
No matter which one you have you can work with it successfully. And please know this: there is no shame in having a particular “kind” of mind. It is simply a result of being human!
Use the “Stop, Look, Listen, and Feel” process with your predominant mind pattern too. Simply notice it, name it, and with the assistance of some deep breaths—let it go. Turn your attention to something else. In time, you can “rewire” your thinking to be less rigid, more flexible, workable.
Choice by choice, we can shift how we respond to our minds. We do not have to be run ragged by pesky thoughts or mind patterns. Infuse yourself with passion to be happier and you can. Take good care of your mind and I’m confident you’ll feel happier in no time—from the inside out!
Join me at DailyOm.com for my new 30-day program, "Learn How to Be Happy."
One happiness-inducing practice each day for one month will build your happiness muscles!
Learn more. Includes a live Forum, by the way, so we can connect—up close and personal!
Have you checked your happiness quotient lately? How happy are you—really?
I've been thinking about happiness a lot lately, mostly because I just launched a new course about it at DailyOm.com.
We struggled with the title to make it appealing to people. We came up with all kinds of new-fangled ways to talk about happiness that would catch someone's eye, but, in the end, we landed on something so simple:
"Learn How to Be Happy" ...
which smartly says, Yes, we really do learn how to be happy.
Or maybe, more accurately, we learn how to create sensations and experiences of happiness — rather than others bound up in sadness or despair or anger. In time, when we do this long enough, we end up with a "Happiness Habit."
Here's a little crash course in happiness. Part 1 is today. Part 2 is in a few days. Consider this.
(And after you do, please go here and check out the course/material because it's really good stuff that works! Blatant self-promotion here.)
As you know, I am BIG on practices. "Practices" should have been my middle name: Jan "Practices" Lundy.
My life revolves around daily practices for calm, clarity, love and HAPPINESS.
I know for a fact that if I don't point myself toward happiness, I WILL end up somewhere else. My mind is as spastic and elastic as the next person.
So, do me a favor, and point yourself in the direction of happiness today as best you can. It feels a lot better than the alternative.
And if you need some help, go here.
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we are meant to live.
Continue the conversation with me and others on my Facebook page.
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.