It is in our relationships with others that we learn the spiritual lessons of acceptance, compassion, and forgiveness. While the experience of learning these lessons may initially evoke hurtful words and feelings of betrayal and abandonment, manipulation and control, it is these interactive experiences that lead us to the work necessary to balance our head, heart, and spirit. They stimulate our spiritual growth and give us the opportunity to become better people.
Often holiday family gatherings evoke behaviors that trigger old feelings of betrayal, abandonment or manipulation, perfect openings to practice our spiritual skills. When those feelings emerge, slow down, take a breath and remember you have choices of how to respond. While we cannot control the behavior of others, our point of power is in how we responds to them (which sometimes does stimulate the desired change). Perhaps the best present you can give your loved ones is your gift of love, compassion and forgiveness, a gift that will benefit both you and your beloveds. One working definition of spirituality is being in harmony with yourself and the world around you, and perhaps that harmony is the best present of all, one that may even help spread peace into the world. As Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in Eat, Pray, Love: “...if even one or two souls can be free from discord, they will increase the general health of the whole world, the way a few healthy cells in a body can increase the general health of the body.” Let this holiday season be one of peace, forgiveness and love, in your home, your heart, and perhaps if we can generate an abundance of these spiritual gifts, it will indeed spread to people and places in the world that need it most.