There’s no better time than the next couple of weeks to really put into practice all those concepts, ideas and philosophies we’ve been discussing in my classes over the past 6 months. The Holiday season is so multifaceted, and as non-dual as we try to be, there more often than not seems to be both beautiful and not-so-beautiful things about this time of the year, depending on our day-to-day existences and what we are exposed to and surrounded by. The uglier side of this time of the year was made glaringly obvious to me when I worked in retail, where I was privy to stressed out shoppers battling each other for merchandise to buy as gifts with money they rarely wanted to part with, all of which was exacerbated by having to line up to pay for said gifts while their parking meters ran out. I have also lived vicariously through the tales of familial woe relayed to me by friends who have grown to associate the Holidays with inevitable blowups between themselves and their parents/siblings/children/etc… Running into obstacles and conflict is par for the course at this time of the year, if only because almost everyone is living the exact same reality simultaneously, which is bound to result in chaos. Enter Yoga.
Yoga is described by millions of people as millions of things. I personally view Yoga as the opportunity to be the best version of ourselves possible, and to be able to project that version for anyone and everyone to see and be inspired by. The Yoga Sutras define Yoga as “the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind”, or for those Sanskrit lovers out there, “Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodhah.” Using both these definitions, we can go into the craziness that typically is the Holiday season and practice equanimity, in the hopes that the way we approach, manage and reflect back on these opportunities to come together emerge forever changed.
Many of the Yogic texts and literature that I’ve come across speak to the impermanence that we live with, the ups and downs that we live through and which affect us all differently, based on our individual upbringings and adopted defence mechanisms. The Western approach to life is largely dictated by these events, which typically shape us and imprint themselves on our psyches, feeding the Kleshas that we are attempting to break free from. Understanding that life is inevitably a series of ups and downs is the first step in understanding how we can affect change in our own lives, and to those around us. When these events occur, whether they be negative or positive in the manner they imprint themselves on us, the best thing we can do is take note of what’s going on around us, and try to see it all from an objective point of view. I like to suggest seeing the events as if they were written down in a newspaper, as if they were happening to others…this gives us the opportunity to check ourselves before our egos and emotions get the better of us, and allows us to connect to our inner selves in order to deal with them. This does not mean that we don’t participate in what’s occurring, nor does it insinuate that we’re not affected by the events, but it does give us the luxury of assuming the role of observer, however temporary we adopt it. Understanding and recognizing the events that are fleeting, that are impermanent (regardless of whether the repercussions are permanent or not) also provides the opportunity to recognize that which is not fleeting, which is permanent and to which we should be directing our attentions to. The ties that connect us all to each other are permanent. Our innate, collective energy and essence is permanent. Love is permanent. Tuning into all of this through whatever form one’s meditation assumes is what will see us through life with the least amount of chaos and wasted energy, and is also the instrument that will change the way we see the Holiday season.
I’m not sure if it’s due to the first snowfalls, the opportunities to present each other with gifts, or the impending closure of the current year leading into a new one, but this time of year always seems magnificently energetic. The change in acoustics provided by a generous layer of snow definitely adds to that energy, but there really is such a vibration of peace all around us leading into the beginning of the new year. For myself, it most often takes the form of silence, the purest and most primordial silence in which I search for OM, the vibration of the universe that exists in, underneath, and in the absence of silence. The opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months and inject the next 12 ones with hope and love also plays a role in that magical energy. Recognizing all the possibilities for beauty and hope that exist throughout our lives becomes so much more tangible as we move from one calendar year into another, and it is therein that lies the permanence that infuses our existence. Tapping into that allows us to recognize the stresses and traumas, and, conversely, the joys and triumphs, that occur in our lives as simply that: occurring. They do not define our lives, which is a very important distinction to make. These moments are temporary, and remembering and understanding that is what will get us through them with grace, humility and compassion.
I urge everyone to make the most out of the coming weeks…to appreciate what and who we have in our lives, to look for and find the common threads that unite us all, and to let the brightest, purest, least blurry version of ourselves to shine through for everyone to see. Live consciously and let yourselves be present in every given moment, and, most of all, don’t expend unnecessary energy and time on those “fluctuations of the mind.” It is in this mind-space that we can transition into 2010, and into another year filled with hope, love and spirituality. Happy Holidays to everyone, and the Happiest & Healthiest of New Years