November 2005 archive

Making Peace at Thanksgiving

Ah, Thanksgiving—our most food-centered holiday. If you are engaged in a weight loss process, it can certainly feel like an attack on your eating plan. But it doesn’t need to feel like that.

This day affords us an opportunity to work on our practice in a unique and focused way. This year, give some thought to these points and see if it helps give the day a new feeling.

Thanksgiving is a time of food abundance.

There will be food and lots of it.
You will eat food and lots of it.

Both of these statements may be true for you, and they are both okay. Our task for this day is to be conscious of the food you are eating by staying present while eating. If you catch yourself wondering if mom’s sweet potato casserole is going to put 5 pounds on you, you are not present.

Today is a day to enjoy and savor this food. Take a few easy deep breaths every time you find your mind wandering, and reconnect with the task in front of you—enjoying your meal!

Thanksgiving is a time to be peaceful with family, with friends and with yourself.

Most of us have both positive and negative aspects to our relationships with family—and with all that food around, it is possible to get negative emotions tangled up with our eating. This year, might I suggest a sankalpa—an intention or vow—to be peaceful.

Having a clear intention to keep the external environment (the dinner table) and internal environment (our thoughts) pleasant helps others to do the same. Slowing down our reactions to others often helps us stay in the present with this.

When Dad asks if you would like some more pumpkin pie for the 50th time—just like he always does— take a moment to remember that, along with anything else, he is being friendly. If he were someone else we would appreciate the offer and and politely decline.

When someone says, “I thought you were trying to lose weight” while you are having dessert, it is probably best to pause, gather yourself and say, gently, “Today is Thanksgiving.”

Thanksgiving is a time to remember the hungry.

Karma Yoga (selfless service) is one of the many paths to yoga. To give of ourselves without the intention of any gain brings us closer to a feeling of oneness with the world. This cultivates an inner calmness that translates into ease with ourselves. That ease and clarity allows us to make choices that benefit our mind, body, and spirit.

Dropping off some food; feeding a home bound person; donating time or money to a program that feeds people (such as http://www.bowery.org)—these are all ways to perform service. Sharing our abundance helps bring clarity in our lives.

I hope you all have a peaceful, plentiful day, and that you and yours enjoy each other fully.

Namaste