How can I connect with my family this holiday season if I can’t physically spend time with them?

COVID-19 will keep many of us from seeing our loved ones this holiday season. But our practice can support us as we navigate separation and the loneliness it brings.

REST

You can practice resting during the holidays. Each time you sit down, tell yourself “Now I will rest.” This is called resourcing and is a practice that comes from trauma work. In addition to letting your mind go, resourcing can include attuning yourself to what the body needs, generating a feeling of spaciousness in your practice that allows gratitude to arise.

Gently scan the body to let go of tightness and invite your mind to rest on an anchor such as your breath or sounds in the room. Then begin offering yourself lovingkindness phrases: “May I be safe, well, happy, and peaceful.”

RECONNECT

Isolation, social distancing, and mask-wearing are likely to make the feelings of loneliness even more pronounced this winter. Invoke those you are missing as a way to be with them during your practice. You might even imagine those at past holiday gatherings, who likely include people dear to you (a certain Aunt Ruth who offers warm hugs and hearty laughs), some you don’t know very well (so-and-so’s partner’s work friend), and some who are difficult (the proudly controversial cousin, or Aunt Ruth after a few glasses of wine). To practice connecting, start by calling to mind the face of the dear one. Notice how they look back at you and the physical feelings you experience in their company, and then offer them lovingkindness. When you’ve sent them enough well-wishes, bring to mind another loved one, repeating the practice and observing any feelings of warmth that spread through your body and heart.

Next, imagine some people you feel neutral about who show up at these gatherings, like those third cousins who look alike. See if you can muster up some of the same loving phrases as you mix these less familiar faces into the crowd.

Finally, imagine the person who makes your shoulders slump when you see them at the door. Welcome them into your house of love, remembering that they want the same things we all do: to feel happy, connected, loved, and free.

Conclude by including all beings in your wishes for peace and liberation.

REPEAT

Throughout the holidays, take breaks and treat yourself to the same warm-heartedness that you extended to your guests.

Our suffering connects us to billions of others around the world who are also conscientiously distancing themselves for the sake of kindness and safety. A hand on our hearts can remind us that freedom, peace, and connection are always here.

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