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Family, lack of family–either one can be a cause of anxiety during the holiday season. Where the happy memories live, the loney ones also lurk around the corner and always seem to come visit this time of year, no matter how careful and festive the planning. What to give, whether to buy, and floods of commercial advertising can also create stress and may seem in conflict with spirituality during this season so filled with references to the divine. How to find that calm place inside?

When I was about sixteen, I happened across the idea of meditation quite accidentaly. I’m sure it was in a bookstore, where I picked up a do-it-yourself type book on yoga. One section described sitting still for ten minutes or so each day alone, just concentrating on the breath coming in and out. I can’t properly describe the happiness this exercise brought to me. It seems odd that being alone and not really “doing” anything would create a space for happiness, but for me, quite unexpectedly, it did. Meditation seemed very much like prayer, but without the wishes, without any regrets or apologies. I began to love my own breath and my own quiet time.

Over the years as I read about religions I found that meditation – or reflection – had a place in nearly all. I’ve been reading Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad this week, and in Penelope’s musings she describes the Internet as a retangular shrine in each house – from a demi goddess’ point of view. Part of the pleasure of meditation is the lack of a shrine, and the quiet simplicity of the practice. It’s a relief to think I don’t have to buy a single thing to enjoy this one rejuvinating pleasure.

I’m sharing an interview about meditation – what it is and how it affects the brain –  by actor Russell Brand with a scientist and educator, John Hagelin.

How do you find a calm place during the holidays?

Please leave a comment to share views with readers. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.