For those of you in the US, Happy Thanksgiving!

Ram Dass has a beautiful quote; “If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family!””

Have you had the experience of feeling like you’ve changed and you’re able to be more joyful and positive. But then you get together with family, and old patterns of behavior show up almost automatically?!  I know I’ve been there!

 Putting on an old, itchy suit.

 This happens in part because there’s a current of consciousness and an old identity that we step into as soon as we get together with family. When you step into that identity, it’s like putting on a suit of clothes with matching behaviors and emotions. And that suit doesn’t fit anymore!

 Focus on gratitude. Set boundaries. Be the Buddha.

 This holiday season, take time to appreciate all the good things you have in your life. There’s so much to be thankful for, and when you savor the good, you’ll rewire your brain to focus on the positive.

 Try this simple gratitude meditation.

It’s easy to get caught up in “should” or fantasies about family life over the holidays. 

Movies and magazines show these idealized versions of picture perfect holidays. For many, this is not the reality. Some of you are probably feeling lonely or sadness over losses. Others might be dealing with addiction, illness or negative behavior in your family. 

Focusing on gratitude can help bring your attention back to what is going well in your life, and let go of how you wish things could be.

In addition to practicing gratitude, it’s also important to set boundaries and take care of your needs.

Ask yourself; “Hmm, what do I need to feel good, rested and refreshed?

Do you need 10-15 minutes (or an hour!) alone each day when you’re with family? Make it happen.

It’s important to set healthy boundaries with people you love. 

Personally, I like to go on a short walk or run every single day when I’m home with family all week. It gives me space to reconnect with myself, calm down my nervous system after lots of fun and chaotic commotion, and re-align with my truth. I also make sure to meditate every morning and every night to ground my energy and set protective boundaries so I’m not taking on other people’s energy. 

Lots of little ones squealing in delight is adorable but also overwhelming! Lots of different personalities trying to get along can be draining (including my own, which isn’t always easy for others!). 

It’s ok to be honest if you need a break. 

It doesn’t mean you don’t love your family. In fact, I’d argue it’s an act of love to take care of yourself so you can show up in your fullest, most loving way.

Practice extreme self-care this holiday season.

Take a moment and decide on one thing you can do to take care of yourself this week. Will you take a bath and go to bed early or read a good novel rather than staying up late watching TV? Will you go to a yoga class even if it means not joining the family for lunch? 

Be the Buddha.

Years ago, Jack Kornfield told me a story of a woman who kept going home for the holidays and trying to convince her parents how much meditation and Buddhism had changed her life. Each visit, she’d come back disappointed at her parents’ lack of interest in her new passion. She felt like they didn’t care or didn’t see who she really was. 

One visit, she came back smiling ear to ear. 

 Jack asked her what was different and she said; “Every other visit, I was telling my parents about meditation and how wonderful it is. I was lecturing them about Buddhism. This trip, I just decided to BE the Buddha. And it made all the difference.”

 She finally stopped lecturing her parents and just showed up as herself with the new capacities she’d developed through mindfulness. For the first time in several years, her parents became curious and asked; “What’s this meditation stuff all about?” 

 So, remember to Be the Buddha this holiday season. Show up as your fullest, brightest self and let the rest take care of itself.  You can’t control others, but you can control how you show up.

 Take space for yourself. Rest, renew, practice radical self-care. 

 Set healthy boundaries. Stay grounded in your energy and your truth.

 Let yourself be steeped in gratitude. Take time to savor all the good in your life.

 I’m wishing you a relaxing and restful holiday season!

 Vanessa

 P.S. We have some exciting news coming your way…the 2020 Soul Planner is almost ready for purchase!  Yippeeee!!!!

 This journal + planner is being printed as we speak. Keep your eyes out for a very special offer in the next few days.

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