The High Holidays are fast approaching. High Holidays bring us many opportunities for joyousness. Visiting with family and friends we may not have seen for awhile and getting to indulge in a meditative prayer may certainly be elements of the holiday season we look forward to and enjoy. But then there is the stress. The stress and anxiety of preparations, what to wear, what to cook, purchasing holiday related items on a budget, and so on. Many of these stressors inhibit our enjoyment and appreciation of the holiday itself. By the time the holidays come around all many of us want to do is climb into bed, hide under the covers, and wait it out. The good news is that there are simple tools to help us get through, and even relish, the high holiday season.
The tools I refer to are simple and effective. The first time I encountered truly spiritually uplifting and attuned individuals was when living in Browning, Montana while volunteering on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. These people had a sort of equanimity about them. They had a serenity that gave them the courage and strength to accept things as they were. A peace of mind that allowed them not to get worked up about the small stuff. Later on I encountered this same mindset while doing my social work internship at Saint Luke’s Recovery Center in Miami Beach. Many of the people I had met on the Blackfeet Reservation who had made such a profound impact on me were also recovering alcoholics and addicts working a 12-Step recovery program and using the tools of recovery to live life on life’s terms, one day at a time. These tools help addicts stay balanced, because if they don’t, they are likely to return to their addition. While the tools of recovery may be especially useful to recovering addicts, they are tools all of us can benefit from during times of heightened pressure and anxiety. In my opinion, the slogans are some of the most useful tools. Here’s a sampling:
One Day at a Time: Although we may easily become overwhelmed when looking at the big picture, keeping focused on the baby steps and small chores immediately at hand makes getting through the drudge of preparations much more manageable.
Easy Does It: When we feel ourselves getting worked up, we can take a step back and gently remind ourselves, “Hey, what am I getting so worked up about? Easy does it.”
Live and Let Live: The only behavior we can control is our own. The only mind we can control is our own. When we try to coerce people into doing our will all that happens is the making of misery. Our best bet is to cut some slack to the people around us.
The Serenity Prayer speaks for itself:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference.
The high holiday season, undoubtedly, we’ll have many opportunities for rejoicing, celebration, happiness, and relaxing. Keeping in mind, and reciting, these slogans will help us keep the small things in perspective and, as they say in the recovery programs, “Let go and let God.”
Tags: 12 steps, High Holiday, Meditation, Relaxation, stress, stress management