“If you think you are enlightened, go and spend a week with your family.”
~ Ram Dass
As the holidays approach, it will soon be time to gather with family once again. However, most people who read this week’s quote know exactly what Ram Dass is talking about. You might be doing really well on your personal journey- you might see yourself as strong, healthy, emotionally balanced and mature. And then you get together with your family and everything falls apart. This time of year can often be emotionally challenging, mainly because spending time with family has a way of bringing out the worst in everyone. But, why does this happen? And what can you do to prevent it?
Of course, the quickest way to bring harmony to your family dynamic is by fundamentally changing every family member so that they all behave like you. Unfortunately, that’s not an option. It’s very difficult to change other people- it’s hard enough to bring positive change to your own life. Instead, you have to figure out how to love people for who they are, despite their flaws. As the writer and mystic Thomas Merton says, “The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
So, next time you get together with family, see if you can prove Ram Dass wrong. That is, see if you can remain calm on the inside even when emotions start to escalate. If you do find yourself getting triggered, think of it as an opportunity to heal your past wounds instead of making those wounds worse. Most importantly, practice kindness and unconditional love towards others. Remember, it is one thing to reach a state of total inner peace while you are alone on your meditation cushion, but the real challenge is maintaining that inner peace when faced with difficult circumstances.
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About The Author
Nick Hughes is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and co-owner of Well Being. Influenced by the ideas of Alan Watts, Eckhart Tolle, Ram Dass, and Deepak Chopra, Nick presents his unique take on human existence with the goal of helping others live a happier life.