Well, it’s almost at an end. By this I mean that amazing string of days that happen each year from Hanukkah through the New Year. Besides the two holidays mentioned, there’s Thanksgiving, Advent, The Solstice, Christmas and, of course the New Year. We should probably include Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve to our list too. That is a lot of getting prepared, celebrating, attending events (including religious services) and spending time with family and friends (often the only time of the year these meetings happen).
Dr. Adam K. Anderson who is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto states that “…the bombardment of media during the holidays showing images of smiling families and friends.” He then continues, it is common to “start to question the quality of [our] own relationships.” This is not surprising, is it? So much advertising is thrown at us especially via television commercials showing happy families getting together for the holidays enjoying special foods, beverages or driving away in a new car that’s a gift from Santa.
The martial arts teach us that all things occur in cycles. We learn a technique or reach a plateau in our training then only to have what we thought we knew seemingly unravel. We discover we need to re-learn both mentally and somatically what we thought we had down rock solid. Eventually, we learn there are cycles to our learning on the mat. And at one moment in our training, we connect this cyclical learning with what happens off the mat. Life occurs in cycles too.
This happens during the holidays. Except, there are more cycles, more ups and downs than usual. And, these cycles are compacted in a short period of time as we move towards the end of the year. Events, life, family, friends, too much football with the endless bowl games, rich foods, special holiday “drinks” and concoctions, less sleep and more excitement. All this can bring about what commonly can be referred to as, the “Blahs.”
The question is: What can our training teach us about dealing with this? And what gems have we learned that can be applied to maybe not avoid the “Blahs” but reduce the ups and downs and easily surf the results as if we at our favorite beach. Here are three good tips to follow on how to survive the holiday “blahs.”
First, like all that we learn on the mat, we need to keep everything in perspective. This means both seeing the big picture and not getting caught up in the particulars of the moment. Family dynamics can be a biggie here. Remembering to “get off the line” that we learn in Aikido might be the motto to keep in the forefront of your thoughts? Verbal snipes, innuendos, jabs and punches are often common at family gatherings. Old trash gets dug up and recycled. Remember, you’re not a good target is you aren’t “there.” Simply turning away, or going to another room, or as this writer has done, volunteer for dish duty and move away from the living room’s mosh pit where the fray is happening.
Second, don’t forget the holidays are more about others than you. In all martial arts, we learn to take care of our training partners. We should maintain the same attitude during the holidays. Which means, the celebrating and gifting and all else are all about your family and friends, and of course those in need. Our training teaches us that carrying for our training partners is one of the true building blocks of all martial arts. This should carry over into our everyday lives during the holidays, and beyond.
Third, and not least, what happens during the holidays can and will carry over for the remainder of the year. We learn on the mat that good actions can come back to us months and even years later. By the same token, the opposite can return to us like a boomerang, blindsiding us when we least expect. So try to really look and see what you are doing and act from the heart, a wonderful place in us that is resilient, carrying, forgiving and much more.
The Greater Bay Area martial arts community is a powerful force for good in our communities, and the world. This writer’s New Year’s wish is that this will continue and increase in 2016. Happy New Year to everyone.