Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to all, but especially to those of you who are spending the holiday alone, as I am this year, and in fact how I spend the holidays most years.
I used to suffer from extreme loneliness, and then there were the years of trying to escape my circumstances– going to movie marathon, not because I wanted to, but to be alone in the dark where only other loners would be and not judge me. Or I’d numb out by over-eating lots of sugary treats. But in recent years I seem to have learned how to do the holidays in a way that feels both warm and authentic.
The key for me has been in practicing mindfulness and awareness of reality, in which the air meets every inch of my skin in the most perfect hug. Awareness of my connection to all that is, both within and outside of me. I practice gift giving– AND receiving….In the Andean Cosmo-vision, this is called Ayni, or Sacred Reciprocity, and it is the thread that weaves the tapestry that holds the cosmos in tact. I spend the day with the trees, in awe and appreciation; The trees gift me with oxygen and in return I give them the carbon dioxide they need. I give the Earth a nice Shiatsu massage with my feet and feel the sense of security from the support of having her underneath me. I prepare a feast for my belly with foods that will truly nourish it in this cold season– Winter Squash with Ghee and Sage.
Sometimes I give my different “selves” actual small gifts that I wrap up, b/c I delight in unwrapping things. This year I gave The Abandoned One a pair of gloves from the Dollar Store (I had lost one of mine and my hands were freezing). I gave The Wise Sage some loose leaf tea, purchased with food stamps, I gave my Inner Child some glitter glue b/c she really needs more play time, and I gave The One Who Must Figure It All Out a wooden puzzle game to focus on , so I can let Life do its thing.
I made my tiny home (a 1988 RV) festive by offering a bowl of oranges to the resting Buddha and made a Chanukiah from a Juniper Branch. I sing greetings to the birds who fly overhead.
I walked around the neighborhood and looked at everyone’s Luminarias (a New Mexico traditional lantern made from a simple brown lunch sack and votive) and felt how each one of us is a little light shining in the world, and how collectively we illuminate hope and beauty.
Each one of us is a little light
shining in the world;
Collectively we illuminate hope and beauty.
When waves of sadness come up, I allow them…I welcome them, offer them refuge. There is room at this Inn for all feelings. I offer my experience for anyone who may be struggling with feeling disconnected today, whether you’ll be by yourself or in a room full of people.
Take some time to get quiet and go inward through meditation or some other contemplative practice. Feel into how you genuinely would like to spend the holidays, given circumstances beyond your control. Become aware of any impulses that are clinging or aversion– e.g. clinging to nostalgia for how things used to be or a postcard version; Aversion to accepting how things actually are through numbing pain with intoxicants, food, sex, etc. Whether or not what you feel called to do is an Organic Wish or an attempt at clinging or aversion depends upon the individual/situation. e.g. one person may want to eat lots of chocolate to anesthetize themselves, whereas someone else maybe would really relish mindfully eating a few pieces of chocolate; one person may genuinely enjoy going to a movie alone and immersing themselves in an adventure, while for another person, that may just be another way to obliterate consciousness…..SO, feel into and discern what your choices will mean for you.
Plan ahead with a menu of a few things you might like to do on the day. Have some foods you will enjoy and discern whether you will enjoy a few pre-prepared items/treats or if you’d like to cook up a big feast for yourself. Maybe you want to do traditional holiday things with a solitary twist, or maybe this opens up a whole new world to try something out of the ordinary, like taking a day trip or long hike, or having a spa day at home with a nice bath, some Yin Yoga etc., or finally cleaning out that drawer/closet/garage….whatever you choose, make sure it feels like a gift to yourself and not an obligation or penance.
Feel into whether you’d like to give yourself some gifts. Be aware that sometimes we can numb our pain with “stuff”. But it can also be nice to treat yourself. This year, I got myself some delicious novels from the library.
Practice Radical Acceptance of how things actually are–radical acceptance doesn’t mean judging it good or bad, just acknowledging how things are in reality, in this moment.
Practice awareness of your connection to the Universe. Notice how the air meets your skin and hugs it. Notice how the chair you are sitting on supports your back and your bum. Feel your connection to the Earth as you walk on it. Find your genuine gratitude for these things. In reality, you are never truly alone.
If sadness or other challenging emotions come up, don’t push them away, but also don’t indulge in self-pity. Whatever happens, don’t self-abandon! Be a good friend/parent/loved one to yourself and your feelings. Provide sanctuary and refuge for whatever shows up. Practice true Self-love.
Remember, this day too will pass.
Love and Hugs,