“If you think you're enlightened, go spend a week with your family” (Ram Das)
Many of us, are profoundly dreading the upcoming holiday season. The idea of being in close quarters with a less-than-functional family can send cold shivers down the spine of even the most enlightened being.
“How am I going to handle all the intrigues and unresolved issues that are ever-ready to explode over the dining table? When will it ever end? And how do I get out of this hell-realm alive?”
Thankfully it doesn’t have to be this way.
In conjunction with our upcoming weekend workshop, "Harmonious Relationships make Happy Holidays" we’ve asked the staff at El Cielo to share some reflections about their past holiday experiences. We wanted to find out whether and how their view of the holidays have changed by applying the Choose Again methodology.
We hope their perspective will inspire you.
Paul Panteleyev (from Canada) - Senior Counsellor, El Cielo
In the past holidays were for me a source of numerous emotional triggers, which often felt like a burden to be endured rather than a celebration with family and friends. A time to repress long-standing resentments and feelings of internal turmoil to attempt to present an image of normalcy. All the while counting the minutes until it was all over for another year.
Gratefully that is no longer even remotely the case.
Having and applying the Choose Again methodology has resulted in a consistent experience of peace and joyful acceptance in all aspects of my life. Peace on earth and good-will to all I now recognize has to start with me and if I'm willing provides infinite possibilities.
Andrea Stihl (from Germany) - Senior Counsellor, Choose Again
In the past, I used to hate holidays like Christmas and Easter. I thought “the holidays” were just an excuse for senseless consumption. Every Christian based festival seemed to me like a meeting of people who don't like each other but pretend they do. I coped with them by just ignoring the holidays.
I was also not very eager to be with my family. I blamed them a lot.
Today, my ideas of “the holidays” remain pretty much the same. But the big difference is that I don’t hate the holidays, I am not bothered anymore by what I see. Now I welcome the festivities and see them as a nice excuse to see my family, to enjoy being with them, and to enjoy myself.
I love each member of my family, and perhaps more importantly, I love myself.
Charlie Nye (from Holland) - Staff Member (in training), El Cielo
In the past, I preferred to stay away from family gatherings, and instead distract myself with self-destructive behavior. I remember spending a few Christmases and New Year’s by myself. It was a very lonely coping mechanism.
I was sad and depressed, and being with family or friends would make no difference. In fact, I believed that I would be a burden and that my depressive "energy" would be contagious to others.
The significant change and the difference in my life are that I learned to love myself. Now I know that that love has always been there, what was in the way were my beliefs; of being alone, unlovable and worthless.
What I didn't know was that underneath all this self-hatred was a belief in guilt. But with the help of this work I became aware of these beliefs, and. Life has become more joyous.
Now I am happy to go back home for the Holidays, to spend time with friends and family. I look forward to making the Christmas chicken and cutting it up for everyone!
But even if I were to spend a Christmas alone again, I know I would be happy; I cannot be lonely if I love the one I am alone with.
Melanie Doré (from Canada) - Staff Member (in training), El Cielo
Family gatherings were always a great opportunity for me to find evidence that I’m a victim. For example when my brother and father would leave my mom and me out of their conversations...or when I used to try and defend my mother when I felt that my parents were arguing.
In general, I used to be very defensive. I spent a lot of time thinking that I was being judged and attacked!
So, the holidays used to be very hard for me. I wished to run away, and hoped to be on a trip somewhere or being at friend’s instead.
My family hasn't celebrated the holidays together for a while now. My parents have recently divorced, and my brothers and father are not getting along at the moment.
But this summer I did spend some vacation time with my father, with whom I have the most challenging relationship. He flew over (to Vancouver) to visit me for the first time in 5 years.
I applied the work... and we had a great time! Looking at my father with the eyes of innocence and love made a massive shift in our relationship! We had fun! And when I would feel triggered... step 2... it’s about ME.
So now, if I do end up spending the holidays together with my family I could easily foresee a peaceful experience. How would it be different? By not reacting, by not feeling attacked, remembering that I am Love, that They are Love, by seeing them as Innocent, just like me!
Relationships offer wonderful opportunities to heal me!
Gadi Simja Sprukt (From Israel) - Staff Member (in training), El Cielo
I guess things got so bad that I decided to change my name and move to a monastery.
Now I have to admit that living 12,000 km away from my family, taking on a new spiritual name and meditating hard on a remote mountain, was not the best way to solve my family issues.
Whatever resentments I was carrying towards my family (consciously and unconsciously) were going to stay with me wherever I went. It didn’t matter what I was called. I was still “me”.
Thankfully I found Choose Again and was able to recognize that I am the author of my experience.
As the author of my experience, I can choose to see my family as the evidence that I am essentially broken. Or I can love myself as I truly am. I can recognize my wholeness, and from this Vision, now I can see my family as what they truly are - sweet, fun and utterly lovely. Even if they are a bit crazy.
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