As we walk into the holiday season this year, we have unique challenge with COVID-19 restrictions in place. We will not be able to have the larger family gatherings as in years past nor can we have or attend large parties for safety reasons. This is sad but it is most likely a temporary situation. As we learn to navigate these new times, there will be ways we will be able to gather in familiar ways.

We need to be innovative with our ways to connect. I hear of plans to have Zoom connections while a meal is prepared or shared. I have done a cooking class with the Zoom format so I have seen the pros and cons of this form of connection. In the end, we can still have a group experience cooking and eating together in a rather distracting but social way.

Gratitude and a time of mourning

Mark this Thanksgiving with gratitude for your health and that of your family. I realize many of us have lost loved ones in the past eight months, so for some, this may be a time of mourning.

This is a good time to make life-affirming decisions that bring more balanced approaches to your health. In medicine, we take an oath as medical students upon graduation to “first do no harm.” Now, this concept carries much weight for each of us who are not in medicine as individuals living in community.

Caring for community and yourself

In the yogic tradition, there is a teaching called ahimsa. This Sanskrit word translates as “do no harm” in reference to yourself and others in thought, word and deed. Religions of the world have similar moral and ethical concepts for the faithful to abide by.

Are your decisions life-affirming in action or are they repeatedly jeopardizing the health of yourself and those around you? This is important to consider for this Thanksgiving. Most likely, this is true for Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa or any other holiday where we want to congregate.

Blessing and prayers

Blessings to all in service at this time and to those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. This is a difficult time for all of us. Sharing tender loving care in your actions may be one of the greatest gifts to offer to each other on this day. This includes yourself. Self-care matters more than ever. I share self-care tools in my book, Cleanse Your Body, Reveal Your Soul. Find a quiet space to have time to contemplate. Or you can take a walk outdoors with the appropriate precautions.  Create as soothing atmosphere as possible for the meal with sound and color. During the meal, it is best to not have electronics on other than music. Being present with each other is such a gift even with Zoom. This would not have been possible a few years ago!

In closing, I will ask you to consider this call to action. Think about these three statements before you share certain words with family or friends.

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it kind?
  3. Is it needing to be said?

There is a Buddhist prayer that for me encompasses how we can best hold this time together and going forward as an individual and community.

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute to some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”

Blessings, love and good health,

Judith

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