Today, I was invited to a ‘Seder Meal’. At first, I was a bit ambiguous about it: I mean, what is a ‘Seder Meal’? When I googled ‘Seder Meal’, I found out that it is an ancient ritual celebrated by Jewish people worldwide. Moreover, it kicks off their holy period of Passover, which is a time that celebrates the Jew’s freedom from slavery in Egypt.
This got me thinking about spring and all of the many different religious celebrations that are celebrated during the season. For instance, not only does this week mark the beginning of Passover, but this week also commemorates Christian Holy week, or the week in which Jesus is meant to have died on the cross to save people from sin. He is then resurrected more powerful than before, and opens the gates to heaven. In the Theravada Buddhist tradition, New Year is celebrated on the first full moon in April. (Which also occurs this week.) One tradition that takes place in Laos is the building of sand castles near water. The Theravada monks believe that each grain of sand is a wrong doing, and when the water washes away the castles, their wrong doings are, likewise, washed away. In short, for many traditions, spring and its many celebrations is a time for new beginnings and for leaving the past behind.
As a secular mindfulness practitioner, I began to think about all of the things that I am a slave to, or indeed any destructive emotions that could use some purifying. For instance, the need to be liked by other people, or the need to be constantly available plays heavily for me. In turn, I can become worn out and these needs can often lead to anger and frustration. However, through my practice and training, I have come to know that we all have a choice, and I can choose to be free of these things. Or at least, I can set the intention to recognize when I am trying to people please, or when I am feeling angry, and by recognizing these things, I can make a point to start fresh and allow a new way to be blossom out of that recognition. Or as the Buddhists say, out of the mud, our lotus blooms.
So, as I prepare to celebrate this ancient tradition of the celebration of freedom with my Jewish friends, I invite you all to celebrate the possibility for personal freedom within our own lives. Full freedom may not be a reality at present, but it is definitely a possibility and one that can be cultivated through our mindfulness practice.