Actually Having a Happy Holiday

For many people, the good cheer and family time of the holiday season ease the burden of darkness. Yet for many others, the holiday season is the most difficult of the year, and the relentless major-key music and myths of family harmony only worsen the natural ebbs of December. Many people are at their loneliest and most despondent precisely when our culture acts as though everyone is warm, partnered, and together.

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Jay Michaelson
How to Survive the Holidays

Spending time with family members over the holidays—the season of “good will to all” —can often be seriously challenging. Family gatherings can reveal a widening canyon of personal, political, and cultural differences, and table conversations can often halt in tense silence or devolve into explosive argument. Instead of gritting your teeth and drinking more eggnog, here are five tips to stay sane during the holiday season.

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Oren Jay Sofer
Quiet, Please

“Quiet, please,” is a phrase I say to myself in almost every meditation session.

Those exact words, I mean, taken from the semi-famous phrase uttered by Wimbledon umpires to hush up an over-enthusiastic crowd. Even the tone helps: a little British, a little decorous. Not hostile. After all, British.

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Jay Michaelson
Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

But most of all, Thanksgiving is something that everyone can appreciate. Who among us couldn’t use a little more gratitude in our lives? A little less taking for granted; a little more stopping and smelling the roses.  It’s a great holiday. And, of course, it’s intimately related to the art of waking up – to becoming more aware of what’s around us every day.


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Jay Michaelson
Who is the "Witness"?

You may have noticed that experienced meditators sometimes speak in code. For example, “I’m sitting with a lot of anger right now” is meditation-ese for “I am extremely pissed off at you.” Or, “It’s interesting to watch all of these thoughts come and go” is meditator code for “I can’t freaking sit still for five seconds right now!”

One term meditation nerds often use is the word “Witness.” Usually as a noun, though sometimes as a verb. “Rest in the witness,” many meditation teachers say. What does that mean?

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Jay Michaelson