With the passing of Thanksgiving, we are entering into the busy holiday season. As we add to our already busy schedules preparations for holiday gatherings, we find stress levels going up. As the stress goes up, we tend to let our meditation practice slide, telling ourselves that we will get back to it when it is more convenient. However, letting our practice slip doesn't help us deal with the increasing stress levels.
Often, we turn to an unrestrained desire for stimulation to cope. Our consumer culture is built upon a desire for stimulation. This constant chasing after stimulation increases our stress levels. A regular meditation practice helps bring into awareness our underlying attachments to stimulation, which helps to keep it in check. This holiday season, it is in our best interests to keep up our meditation practice and watch out for our tendency to look toward external stimulation as a way to keep us busy, when we would do better to take some time for quiet and stillness. The stress and pressures of the holidays will make it more difficult for us to sit and find quiet. When we do actually sit to practice, we might find our extra busyness creating more challenge to our regular practice due to all the extra stimulation that comes with the season.
Here are some suggestions for helping to manage our desire for stimulation:
I am Do'an Prajna, a bhikṣu (fully ordained Zen Buddhist monk) and zen teacher. Here I share my thoughts and observations about living a life of compassion, attention and gratitude.