Every time I walk into my parents' house I have an overwhelming urge to eat any and all chocolate that is there. No matter how clean my diet has been in the last several months, and no matter how much I tell myself that I'm going to act differently and eat well. As soon as I set foot in the kitchen I'm hunting for chocolate.Isn't it always the way? You think you've really gotten something down, or that you've ridded yourself of some crummy habit. But as soon as you walk through that old familiar threshold you're right back where you started from. Either you are playing an old role with the same old characters. Or you are doing that thing you swore you would never do again. Old habits die hard, especially when it comes to family.
As we turn towards Thanksgiving this week, I'm a little bit reassured to know that even the yogis of yesterday struggled to free themselves of familial patterns. I've heard mention of yoga students gaining quite a bit of mastery with their teachers only to be sent home to try out their new skills in family life (it doesn't always go well). So I'm glad to know that even though I may have come to a new level of understanding in my yogic adventure, it's not surprising if it doesn't hold when I'm around my family.
But what to do about it when I'm getting to be with family? I'm trying to remember to take with me my biggest lesson of the year: Begin Again. No matter what happens and how many times I fall into those old familiar ruts, I do have the choice to Begin Again. I can literally choose to approach the moment when I wake up to that old habit and respond in a new, more authentic way. Maybe I won't eat the chocolate. Maybe I don't have to be annoyed by crazy Aunt Judy and her over-blown drama. Maybe I can look out and see that these are new and different people I'm interacting with this year, they're just wearing the same faces that my family have worn for years. I could have a very different experience this year if I give myself the space to Begin Again within it.
We see this in the world, of course. The sun rises, dawning on a brand new day. Even if it feels the same as yesterday, it isn't. If we can remember that this day holds NOW in a way that no other day did and no other day will, maybe we can recognize within that Nowness the opportunity to Begin Again.
And Again, and Again.
Guess that's why it's a practice