For many people, the holidays mean it’s the one time of year where we pack our baggage and go back to the place where we spent the majority of our formative years planning to escape.
Somehow no one seems to care that you spent a month at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand when your brother just gave them another grandchild or your cousin was written up in the local paper. But hey, you’re a spiritual person! You go to yoga five days a week! You have a daily meditation practice, and the home screen on your phone is a picture of a Shiva having tea with the Pope. You will not let yourself be triggered when your mother suggests that maybe you need to cut back on the calories as you reach for a second piece of pie. You are an enlightened grownup person!
The great teacher Ram Dass said, “If you think you are enlightened, go spend a week with your family.” A week? He was being generous.
There’s an energetic force we all carry within us. It is born deep in our subconscious and grows as we play out our lives through relationships and patterns. The greatest architects of these patterns are the people that raised us. We continue to grow and develop based on the interactions we have with them and with what they are putting out. These are their energetic and subconscious patterns. When our subconscious energy comes up and out to meet theirs, we experience an “interlock.” As the two energies mix and mingle, they form a unique bond to us– like a Molotov cocktail. And let’s be real, by the time that gets lit, it’s pretty much game over.
Here’s an example to help better explain what I mean. You live halfway across the country from your parents whom you visit a few times a year, especially around the holidays. You are an independent woman who has spent many years living on her own, earning money, decorating homes, collecting shoes, and maybe even art. You go to yoga and you meditate. Maybe you even have a teacher training or two under your belt, and through your work you guide others to live more expanded and openly communicative mature and spiritual lives in the modern world.
You land at the airport and you immediately start getting texts from your father who is wondering why it’s taking you so long to come out when he knows damn well the bags take as long as the bags take. You get upset, and you can’t believe you flew all the way out here for this shit. You just want to go home– after all, you’re a grownup person, goddammit!
In that “example” the interlock took about three minutes before it activated, and the two people weren’t even in the same room!
As we gain greater mastery over own subconscious patterns and energy, we can actually learn to project a stronger sense of self and better navigate those tricky interlocks. Maybe next time you make it all the way to the car and halfway home before it kicks in. Maybe it’s when you get home, expecting that maybe the people there will have changed and worked on themselves as much as you have, only to realize they haven’t.
At most we have about 72 hours as ourselves, and at the worst moments it will depend on how strong the interlocks are and how deep that subconscious river runs.
But we can’t not go home for the holidays, can we? Isn’t there anything we can do to make sure we stay ourselves and maintain a healthy relationship with our families?
The short answer is yes and also no. No because no matter how much work we do, no matter how deep we go, those subconscious interlocks run deeper and are multi-layered. It also isn’t just about you doing the work. It would require some major landscaping on the part of your parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, childhood friends, etc. And let’s face it, that just isn’t going to happen. As enlightened beings we understand that we also have no control over other people’s actions and behaviors, only our own reactions to them.
So here are a few tips for keeping you your bright and light self even though the odds are stacked against you:
1 | Make lists of all the things you love about your parents, about your home, and about the holidays. Put that list on your phone. Once you’re home for the holidays, put it on the nightstand next to that childhood twin bed of yours and read it every night before you go to sleep, and then again first thing in the morning when you wake up.
2 | Meditate. A lot.
3 | Get yourself back to your senses. Excuse yourself from the table and lock yourself in the bathroom six times if you have to during a family meal. Look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I got this!”
4 | BREATHE.
5 | Also, Breathe of Fire for at least three minutes a day, or any time you feel anger or anxiety. If you’ll be spending more than 72 hours with family, you may want to up it to 11 minutes.
6 | Make sure you take some time for yourself everyday. Go for a long walk. Listen to music that makes you feel uplifted– I personally recommend mantras set to music.
7 | Talk to people that know you now. It will remind you that you are no longer a teenager with mommy or daddy issues who isn’t allowed to see her boyfriend on a Saturday night.
Most importantly, be the example you want reflected back. Remember, holidays are supposed to be happy and fun!
And finally, if all else fails, simply stay at a hotel. It helps to maintain clear boundaries, and if you decide to raid the mini fridge (or mini bar) in the middle of the night, that is between you, Shiva and housekeeping.
Artwork by Michelle Favin of Whys LA for Poppy & Seed. Connect with her @whyslosangeles.