Merry Maitri-mess everyone!
Maitri-mass is a brand new holiday that I’m creating, but I hope you will join me in celebrating.
What is Maitri?
Maitri is a Buddhist concept of unconditional self love. The word, from Sanskrit, literally translate as benevolence, friendship or goodwill. Tara Brach calls it Radical Self Acceptance. American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron calls it being your own best friend.
Maitri is not a narcissistic self love that insists you are great and everything you do is great. If anything, that is the opposite of Maitri because it negates our own suffering and pain.
Maitri is treating ourselves with the same compassion that we espouse towards others. It means seeing our pain and our flaws but realizing we are still basically good people. It means treating our flaws the same way we treat the flaws of our friends, we forgive them and focus on the good.
The problem with the holiday season
I’ve had the thought for awhile that it’s really sad how commercial and stressful the holiday season has become. And really I mean all holidays, but really Christmas is the worst. People put so much pressure on themselves to give the best presents, have a happy time with dysfunctional families, or else they get down on themselves for not having these things.
The saddest part of it is that it’s all self-inflicted. We compare our gifts to advertising meant to get us to spend as much as we can afford and then some, and we feel bad that we can’t compete with their unlimited budget. Never mind that the actors in those commercials don’t get to keep those cars or expensive jewelry.
We compare our families to some ideal that doesn’t exist. We label our families dysfunctional because we have grown apart, have busy lives of our own or fail to meet some impossible standard society set for us. Or perhaps because our dysfunctions and fights don’t result in some comic happy ending like in so many modern Christmas tales.
If we have cut ourselves off from families that hurt us, this is an act of self love. Why then do we feel bad that we don’t see them on the holidays? I was driving to get my son this Christmas and I saw several people out walking. I wondered briefly what their story was. Why were they alone on Christmas? Then I realized how silly that thought was. Perhaps they were simply on their way to meet someone, as I was. Perhaps they had had their happy holidays already. Perhaps they had to work. Why did I just assume it must be a sad story? Because that’s what we are taught. Being alone on the holidays is sad. But it doesn’t have to be and you shouldn’t make yourself sad because you are supposed to be sad.
My solution to this problem is Maitri-mess. Maitri-mess is the first holiday whose sole custom revolves around self care. On Maitri-mess there is no big meal to cook, no presents to buy, no requirement to get together. The only Maitri-mess custom is do something nice for yourself. Go back to bed if you want. Make hot cocoa and curl up with a good book, movie, person or dog. Spend the entire day in a hot bubble bath. Whatever makes you feel merry.
When is Maitri-Mess?
The miracle of Maitri-mess is that it comes whenever you need it. I suspect there will be a rather large number of Maitri-messes right after the holidays, but it could potentially occur at other times during the year. I might even happy more than once. If you really believe, every day might become Maitri-mess. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
P.S. for blogger friends, all the images come from Pixabay, a great source for free images.