Enjoying the Banquet of Life

By Heather Indu Arena

It’s that time of year! When we gather together with family and friends to celebrate life and all we are grateful for while feasting on delicious food and drink. In the U.S. we celebrate Thanksgiving, and all across the globe there are many upcoming religious holidays. To support your continued intention to live a life of balance and authenticity, I thought a Thanksgiving/holiday gathering metaphor may be helpful when exploring the many thought patterns that you notice throughout the day. Some of the array of daily thoughts you may find helpful while others may be downright annoying.

Consider your thoughts are people showing up for an upcoming dinner. You have the loving thoughts/people who tell you how beautiful and wonderful you are. You have the shy ones who barely speak but sit down and eat your food. You have the children who run around, some laughing, some screaming, and some fighting. You have the judgmental guests who tell you to stop eating because it will mess with your figure and others that tell you the meal just wasn’t good enough. Just imagine all the thoughts throughout your day are guests at your table. And this is a table we call life!

Every moment of every day is a banquet which places different options on the table in front of us. Some we like, some we do not, and some not only feed our stomachs but also feed our soul. Life is constantly providing us with experiences, and it is a matter of how much we can chew in any given moment. Now add to the gifts of life a thinking mind which is constantly providing play-by-play information about how we should receive the moment-by-moment banquet that is being offered to us.

We are offered choices. We can sit down at the metaphorical table we call life and fully participate; or we can sit off in the corner and just wait for it (this moment of our life) to pass by; or we can go on complete auto pilot and let our psychological and biological habits take the lead. The mental thinking patterns are going to be there, but it is all a matter of how you receive them at your table.

Decision time. Do you sit at the head of the table in disgust as they all speak louder and louder to be heard while you try to ignore them, or do you get so caught up in their words that you cannot enjoy the meal? Or are you willing to welcome these guests in to partake in the feast with you? In all honesty, they are going to keep showing up until you stop resisting them. I am sure you have noticed through the course of your life that when you try to stop thinking, eventually thoughts return. Sometimes you like the thoughts and sometimes they downright annoy you just like some of those holiday guests.

The process of finding peace is not to close the door on them when they come knocking. Peace can be found when you choose to let them sit down with you at your table and have their say. You don’t have to indulge them. That will simply feed their words. But you can acknowledge them and then accept their presence at your celebration. From that acknowledgement and acceptance comes the ability to stop feeding on their words and instead enjoy the feast of life in front of you without the constant background noise. It also allows your table to be filled and your guests to arrive while you rest comfortably at the head of the table peacefully enjoying the meal.

It’s as if the silence and peace behind all the noise becomes louder than the noise itself! You begin listening from a different place. You no longer receive your guests and the many different dishes from the lens of your past, but from a present moment experience rooted in steadiness. The same goes for the emotions, you simply allow them all to come to the table without becoming disturbed. It takes practice and that practice is allowing for all the guests, the thoughts, the emotions to be there without trying to shove them out the door. If you shove them out, they are going to keep knocking until you let them back in. Let them sit down at your table, partake in the meal of life without feeding them with your energy. Remain steady in your seat at the head of the table and eventually they will become steady. The more you practice observing them instead of engaging them, the less they will knock at your door and the shorter their stay.

Eventually, it’s just you at the table enjoying the banquet of life as it comes to you. Thoughtful guests may come and go, but it is at your invitation, not at your expense. Your life becomes more still, more peaceful, and much more fulfilling because you can enjoy the meal.

Happy All the Days! (or happy holidays, whichever works for you ;)

Heather Indu Arena

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