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Having a More Peaceful Holiday Season

Posted by Rosemary Morris

Having a More Peaceful Holiday Season
Chaplain Michael VanOeveren and Lidia, celebrating her 90th birthday.

Several years ago, as part of a corporate walking challenge for hospital employees, I invited a Buddhist monk, Bhante Sujatha, to lead a group in a meditation walk at a beautiful nature preserve labyrinth. The labyrinth is circular in shape with winding paths that draw you back and forth until eventually you reach the center. It is said that the back and forth motion engage both sides of the brain and create a sense of calm, somewhat like rocking a child in a cradle or gliding through space on a swing. Because so many of us were making our way through and we all began at the same time, we regularly needed to move aside, as people passed us on the way back from the center.

As we all gathered afterward for discussion I commented on how peaceful and calming the experience was. Despite everyone moving in close proximity to one another, we moved together with respect, patience and reverence. I spoke about how in everyday life I am sometimes impatient while on the road or in large crowds of people. What if we moved through life the way we had just moved through the labyrinth? Bhante Sujatha's remark will stay with me forever; he simply said, "Then we would all be holy."

This time of year, the best gift we can give and receive is an attitude of openness and acceptance. Instead of judging others, why not use the energy to focus on how to become more peaceful?

Suggestions for Slowing Down

1. When speaking to someone, stop what you're doing, make eye contact and attend closely to what they're saying.

2. Make a conscious effort to smile and greet those you pass.

3. Hold doors open for others.

4. Happily allow people to merge in traffic.

5. Choose a stimulus, such as a ringing phone, to remind you to think loving and positive thoughts about the person calling.

6. Next time you think something nice about someone, make sure to tell them.

7. Practice mindfulness and meditation daily.

8. Become quiet when you feel the urge to complain, criticize or judge. Take a moment to breath and release any negative thoughts about yourself, others or a situation.

Wishing you a beautiful and peaceful holiday season!

Comments (1)

  • Ruth Cless

    31 October 2016 at 21:07 | #

    Hi Michael,

    Hi Michael,
    Loved reading your "Thursdays with Lidia" story. You are an amazing Chaplain - glad we got to know you too. Give me a call when you have time and we can have lunch or dinner together.
    All the best, Ruth


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