“Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.”
Kwanzaa begins today and ends on January 1st. If you are not familiar with Kwanzaa it was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor of African Studies at California State University, Long Beach to reaffirm and restore African culture. This year marks the 50th year of Celebrating Kwanzaa which is a cultural holiday, not a religious one and is practiced by Africans of all faiths.
The name Kwanzaa means first fruits is a celebration of strong values of African culture. Candles are lit of each night for the seven principles.
The seven Principles celebrated during Kwanzaa are:
There is significance to all the elements of the traditional celebration so I suggest you check out the resources for this article beginning with the Official Kwanzaa Website.
I include Kwanzaa as a light holiday because of the candle lighting and the strong cultural principles celebrated. Isn’t the end the year and beginning a new one a good time to reflect on the meaning of cultural values and traditions?
My morning practice takes some time — anywhere from 1 1/2 to two hours. Even though we are retired Bob and I still work. We just don’t go somewhere else to work and we don’t collect regular paychecks. Like most people, one reason we work is that we need the money. Sometimes that need takes over and my morning practice starts being seen as a nuisance that just takes up too much time.
So I start experimenting with ways to shorten it. I take my yoga practice down to 1/2 hour. Then I decide I don’t need to practice every day (believe me, I do). The morning walk goes by the wayside as do other things like my art. I become a really strung out mess going around saying things like, “there’s just not enough time to get everything done” and “I didn’t move to the lake to work this hard, I’m always exhausted.” Preparing healthy meals becomes a dreaded chore rather than something done with love. It’s just not pretty. Can anyone else relate to this? I sure hope I’m not the only one. 🙂
So what causes all this? Well, first my priorities get out of order. Our lives have never been about making huge amounts of money. While we do need to work to generate extra retirement income, our situation is not as dire as it sometimes becomes in my thoughts. Misplaced priorities lead to ignoring the way my body works. I have always tired easily. When you’ve lived with something that many would consider a limitation for almost 60 years you figure out ways to work with it. Trying to do more than my body can do only results in exhaustion and eventually illness. I know this — but sometimes I forget. Eventually I come back to my true self and things settle down. But I do wish I could stop taking these frantic detours.
So, what’s my point in all this? We talk about “values” and what is important to us, but when people look at our lives, is that what they see? If we say family comes first, yet we never find the time to spend with them are we living what we say we value?
After my latest detour I find myself back to one hour of morning yoga, followed by reading the Daily Word, a brief Tai Chi practice and my morning walk. I will eventually be combing Tai Chi and the walk. This is a meditative walk, not exercise. Then I can get to work. Know what I’ve finally realized? Work goes better. I get more done when I am calm and relaxed rather than in a frenzy worrying that “we’re going to starve.” I am also able to stop resenting what I am doing and enjoy life.
I understand that not everyone can find two hours to devote to spiritual practice. But just as we make time to stop for morning coffee and check social media we need to make time to slow down, get centered and start living what we say we believe.
We are bombarded with messages telling us we aren’t good, attractive, busy, spiritual, successful enough. The list goes on and on. These even come from spiritual, religious, positive thinking or self-improvement sources.
We listen to the point of feeling guilty for not being “good enough” and forget who we are. We are each a unique expression of God sent to this earth to reflect the light.
To stay on the path we need to turn down the noise and follow our spiritual compass. Having beliefs and values we live by can help us stay on track. Are your beliefs and values reflected in your life or are you wandering off course?
In today’s economic conditions most people are looking for ways to save money or make the money they have stretch farther. Knowing your value system and what is most important to you and your family is the first step. Get the entire family involved in this or you may find yourself facing a rebellion later. A family meeting is a good idea.
Actually make a list from most important to least. You may need to cut down on spending for items at the bottom of your list to help pay for the things that are most important. At the top of our list is health. This includes nutritional supplements as well as buying and preparing fresh, nutritious food. To do this we cut down on spending in areas less important to us such as clothing and electronics.
What is at the top of your priority list? What are some of the things you spend less on or do without?