Black Friday is starting earlier and earlier every year, leaving people little time to enjoy what Thanksgiving is actually supposed to represent. The sales and promises of bounty may be hard to resist, but that becomes infinitely easier with a slew of enticing alternatives on the agenda.
Skip Walmart on Black Friday and spend your day at one or more of these 10 spiritual alternatives:
1. A forest.
If you have access to wilderness, let yourself unplug for a hike or a meditation surrounded by the natural world. If you're in an urban setting, get yourself to a park and watch the squirrels and birds going about their merry business, completely indifferent to Black Friday sales.
2. A museum.
Museums contain worlds of creativity and beauty to explore, and many stay open the day after Thanksgiving. Why look at toasters and electric razors when you could peer into the magical kingdoms of Picasso, Dalí or whatever artist you feel moved by?
3. A house of worship.
Your local church, mosque, temple or synagogue can offer infinitely more nourishment than Walmart or Target can. Light a candle for someone you love. Soak up the calm and stillness. Meditate on the things you're grateful for that can't be bought with money.
4. A friend's house.
Community is at the heart of so many spiritual traditions, and there is no better way to tap into that than by visiting a friend, family member or significant other. Spend time with the ones you love instead of worrying about what to buy them for the holidays.
5. A labyrinth.
A labyrinth may be harder to find, but there's a good chance your local church or botanical gardens has one. Moving through the winding paths of a labyrinth has the dual effect of disorienting and guiding you into a walking meditation. Let yourself get lost and see what comes up.
6. A zen garden.
Zen tradition combines meditation, deep breathing and mindfulness to bring practitioners to a state of greater awareness. Find a zen garden or meditation space and create some distance between yourself and society's attachment to material goods.
7. A music performance.
Stevie Wonder once sang: "Music is a world within itself/With a language we all understand." Immerse yourself in the captivating world of music -- let it bring you closer to those around you and closer to the core of your being that doesn't really care about half-off sales.
8. A lake.
Find a lake, a pond or even a puddle of water and look at your reflection. Ask yourself, "Who am I? Why am I here? What do I want to do in this world?" When you're done having that inner dialogue, see if you still feel like hitting the mall.
9. Your imagination.
How often do you exercise the power of your imagination? When is the last time you picked up a paint brush, performed a skit or wrote a short story. There are infinite corners of your own imagination to explore and not a minute to lose.
10. Anywhere in the world.
You can literally go anywhere in the world with a good book and a few hours on your hands. It might sound cliché, but then again what is more cliché than shopping on Black Friday?