“We are a family. Like a giant tree. Branching out toward the sky.
We are a family. We are so much more, more than just you and I.”
Family. Whew! What can I say? We love them and they can gnaw on our very last nerve. Our immediate biological families are usually the first people we are introduced to in life. And just like the word ‘family' is the basis for the word ‘familiar,’ our families can be the basis for how we relate to and understand the world. This month, we’ve chosen it as the focus of our meditation because what better time than the start of the holiday season than to meditate on the ways we are all connected as one big family?
Being in a family is more than just being raised in the same household. Families are made up of persons that we share any kind of commonality with. In a sense, as long as someone is related to you in literally ANY way… they count as family. Sounds weird, I know, but here’s an example: humans belong to the human family. No matter how different we all are, every human being shares a common ancestor. In this way, we're all biologically related to one another. And since I’m - admittedly - over-generalizing the idea of family, I might as well jump to the point that every single being on earth is related. We all belong to the "earthling family."
What difference does it make, you might ask. Easy! When we see the people around us as connected to us in some way, it makes the world a more familiar place. Granted, you’re not going to walk up to a total stranger, pat them on the back and exclaim “Wazzup cousin?!" (this would be super weird and rude) but you can see their humanity and afford them the respect they deserve as a fellow being. The respect that you yourself would want.
When I’m feeling particularly anxious around other people, I find comfort in reminding myself that “we are all one person divided seven billion ways.” I use this phrase as a way to remind myself that I am built of the same stuff as the people around me and that we have more in common than we think. Reminding myself of this helps me to move past negative thoughts about others or even myself. Additionally, it’s a reminder that in any given situation you can find a connection with another person and work from there toward a common goal… even if that goal is to get away from one another, lol. The point is that finding this connection is key.
THE FAMILY WITHIN
Now on a smaller scale, let’s talk about a different kind of family. The family in our DNA. The people who raised us and the people who raised them and so on and so forth. We inherit so many things from our family. Physical traits. Mannerisms. Many jewels (figurative and otherwise) are passed down from generation to generation. In a sense, wouldn’t it be cool if we could tap into these gifts and use them as a kind of superpower?
One thing that I started to do when I meditated, was focused on strengths that I know I received from my ancestors (parents included because they are our first ancestors). Yes, we can think of all of the things our parents may have gotten wrong, but when you focus on the things they do well, you may be able to see how you have it within you. And what you appreciate, appreciates. So by appreciating your family and the many gifts that you all share, you can magnify these traits. Give it a try and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Personally, by giving honor to my ancestors and noting their strength, resourcefulness, beauty and bravery, I see it manifest within myself. I make it a point to concentrate on the fact that a long time ago, a person (who is within me… within my DNA) was strong enough to survive. And therefore, bring me into existence. The thought of this makes me weep with joy and awe. I am in amazement every day that I am alive because someone that I have never met, lives on within me. Knowing this, I am determined to give this person honor by cherishing myself. My body, my mind, my spirit as a way to show them that I am grateful. And how can I NOT be grateful? My very existence is a testament to the strength that I have within thanks to that person... those people, who came together to make me. I could go on and on so will leave it at that. But you get my drift.
Everyone’s family life isn’t perfect, but it’s helpful to dig into the toolbox of our DNA and draw out the many gifts within. Focusing on the concept of family in a productive way - a way that builds us up and establishes our connection with the world - helps us to find joy and peace in the mundane. The familiar.
So this month, we at Black Women’s Day of Meditation encourage you to meditate on cultivating healthy relationships with your families, whether they are your biological family, your chosen family or the world at large. Greatness comes from choosing to focus on the things that bring us all together in harmony.