Holiday time can bring pain and comfort in equal measure. This happens in part because holidays are steeped in ritual, and each ritual houses years of vivid memories. A ritual is like a snowball, gradually increasing in size each year as more and more memories layer on top of each other.
Our memories can be heightened around the holidays because of the power of ritual, and so we might find it easier to access both warm and sorrowful memories. Losses can feel more acute, as loved ones themselves might be tied in to our holiday rituals.
If you feel overwhelmed by the pain that the holidays evoke for you, you might try a structured meditation for grief.
This script is adapted from the Chopra Center:
Find a comfortable seat.
Breathe naturally, and place your attention on how you are feeling—both emotionally and physically. Acknowledge any emotions and physical sensations that you notice.
Imagine the face of the person, animal or situation you are grieving. You may think of the image as a manifestation of their spirit or just see it as a memory in your mind.
Now, consider anything that needs to be said or forgiven and begin to have a conversation with them. Visualize this happening in your mind, now. Spend a few minutes saying whatever it is that you need to say from your heart. Then hear them saying whatever they need to say to you from their heart. If you are carrying resentment, consider whether you are ready to set this down and forgive. What would forgiveness look like and feel like for you? If forgiveness doesn’t feel right, that’s OK too.
Next, focus in on any one of the most positive memories you can bring to mind related to this person, animal or situation, and immerse yourself in this memory. Relive the happy, fun times and the deep connections that you shared, knowing that what allows grief to release is positive, happy moments.
When you are finished, refocus your attention on your breath, your body, and your emotions. Re-ground in the here and now. Sit quietly for a few minutes and bring your meditation to an end.
Do this meditation as often as you need to and know that you can always return to this space whenever you want to feel at peace.
Try out the structured meditation above for 15-20 minutes if it seems like it could be helpful for you. If not, sit quietly or find a guided meditation that speaks to you. Remember that meditation is a highly personal experience and that you always get to choose where you sit and for how long, and whether to sit in silence or listen to a script. Once you make those choices, your only job is to refocus again and again on whatever it is you decided you wanted to focus on on today. Let go of the rest.