Whole Life Magazine

December / January 2016

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/759264

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Page 25 of 43

A s spiritual teacher Ram Dass famously said, "If you think you're enlightened, go spend a week with your family." Many full-grown, rational adults nd themselves transported back to petulant, self-conscious teens when attending family gatherings. "All of that unintentional wounding from our childhoods adds up to adult low self- worth, low self-esteem, feeling unlovable or onlyconditional- lylovable," says Ira Israel, an L.A.-based psychotherapist and meditation expert. He considers Ram Dass' quote particularly poignant during the holidays, "because that is when all of our childhood wounds and core issues are reopened." Does it have to be this way? No. Practicing meditation can help lessen reactivity so that you can survive–and maybe even enjoy–holiday get-togethers without behaving in a way you'll regret. Santa Monica–based marriage and family therapist Lisa Lichtenstein notes that a cognitive behavioral approach can also work. "Depending on what the stress is about, I tell my clients to respond to the stress so it has an 'exit strategy.' For example, if a client is stressed about the commercial aspect of the holidays, I would have them describe the type of holiday they value and create it. A realistic response to the stress pre- vents it from ruminating in the mind, allowing it to release and resolve." Mindfulness Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, de nes mindfulness as "awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally." Sounds simple. But staying in the present moment with family members can make people yearn for dis- traction, whether that's a drink, their phone, a football game, or just about anything. And refraining from judging family By Teresa Bergen Meditation, Mindfulness, and the Craziness of Holidays Family Meditation, Mindfulness, Meditation, Mindfulness, Meditation, Craziness 26 wholelifetimes.com

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