Updated: Jan 8
Do you ever look around this time of year and wonder: What the eff is going on here? And WHY are we doing all of this stuff??
In a store the other day, I got this: I am a robot programmed to "Get Christmas", to feel a certain way, have certain expectations and experiences based entirely on a fantasy of a fat guy in a red coat whose made-up altruism made manufacturers very wealthy. Call me Scrooge but when you think about it, it's really kind of bizarre how bought-in the dominant culture is to the Santa story. And even though I know it and see through it, I’m still expected by a host of people to do a whole bunch of Christmas Things that are not spiritually fulfilling or nourishing, and are often vexing and depleting. How did I get here? Hello! Is there anybody out there? Just nod if you can hear...
This is a time when the natural world is calling us into stillness, the darkness prevails. I feel the pull to quiet down and be with the darkness - which is not inherently negative. It is an invitation to move within, to look at what arises in the absence of light. To appreciate the opposite of light and the duality we live in and that lives in us.
Sister Joan Chittister said, “Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the alleluia point at which we learn to understand that all growth does not take place in the sunlight.”
The dark is necessary, worthy and beautiful and by embracing both the inner and outer darkness we expand in heart and mind and move with greater ease in the natural flow. Ahhh, yes. That's what I'm craving!
AND YET- We have the manifest world - the apparent reality - that is doing the exact opposite of what Mother Nature is calling us to. It is demanding: DO more, GET more, HAVE more, GIVE more, BUY MORE BUY MORE BUY MORE!!!
On a fundamental level, for the awakening person, it feels incongruent, inauthentic, depressing even. And if you’re not Christian or don’t celebrate Christmas, there is the added distaste everywhere you go of red and green chinz-pop-crap and music that holds no meaning in your heart.
And then there is grief - which has no place in this story - loved ones we miss whose absence forever alters the holidays for us. As a grief counselor, I witnessed many people's grief intensify during this time of year when friends get too busy to remember our sadness and all we see are images of families cuddled up close by roaring fires with a stack of gifts beside them yet to open and a roasted turkey waiting on the Martha Stewart dressed dining table.
Layered on that are all of the memories we hold of past holidays and what they meant, what used to be, what never was - what needs were met or not, what wishes fulfilled and the many that can never be. Is it no wonder many people can't wait for it all to be OVER?
And yet we are called by Life to be here IN it and with it. How can we Be with ourselves and true to ourselves in the bustle and the blues of this season?
Here are three easy tools that have worked for me and can help take the edge off and alleviate some of the stress that we can encounter around solstice time.
My go to is Nature. It's FREE, it's HERE, it's NOW! Take a walk in the woods or by water. The trees are very healing. I always ask if the trees can gift me some of their peace. (this works!) Or if you are by water, ask the body of water to cleanse you of negative energy. Just being in nature is enough but I find great benefit in enlisting the help of the nature spirits and natural energies.
Grounding visualization- this is helpful if you're not able to connect with nature directly. Imagine that you are a column of light; send your light down into the core of the earth like you would plug in a light to a wall socket. Draw earth energy into every cell of your body, infusing your body with strength, solidness, peace, vitality, balance and well being. When we draw on sources that are infinite, we are much less likely to get depleted.
Sing, sing, sing! - Moving wind and energy through your vocal chords actually has a stabilizing and balancing effect on both mind and body. Singing or chanting calms the mind and energizes the body by increasing oxygen flow and even boosting immunity! (Immunoglobulin increases with singing - amazing!) Put your favorite music on, chant Om or just sing a melody that's in your head. I love to listen to the gorgeously clear tones of Snatam Kaur, especially "Longtime Sun."
Keep it simple. Do only what really feels nourishing and if you have other doing to do, bring as much presence to it as you can: Being with the dishes and warm soapy water, Being with the traffic - and even using it as a time to say a prayer of gratitude or healing for the earth, or the person standing next to you on line, Being with and in your body as you move through the actions of your day.
May Peace Prevail on Earth. May Peace Prevail in your heart and mind, this and all of our seasons.