I love the holidays. I come from a big family with classic Christmas celebrations filled with kids and board games and beauty and fun. My family still loves to gather. But now, I choose one of the fall/winter holidays (and Thanksgiving is so great for gathering) to be in the frenzy, and let the rest of the season be quieter – reflective.
As the wheel of the year turns, this is an auspicious time to reflect on 2015 and dream of the year to come. My newsletter this month focuses on that process – sign up this week to get it.
But first, how do we find time during the shopping and gathering to be reflective? To take stock of the year that was? Or, to just enjoy the moments of social fun that happen over these holidays.
In my world it only works with deliberate simplification – to cull extra travel, pass on finding the perfect gift and sending out the perfect cards to absolutely everyone, accept fewer cool projects, even minimize gatherings to those I really want to attend. I hold off on entering the holiday bacchanal of food for as long as I can…so even though I love a little soy nog in my coffee, and make a truly killer sugar cookie, I’m in no great rush to jump in.  Believe me, it’s coming, but my strategy is to delay the sugar! This year decorations are minimal, and mostly things I gather from outside.
Meditation is the key! Daily meditation practice is the anchor that keeps me out of the swirl of the commercial holiday season.
For my morning meditation this month, I plan to practice reflection on 2015. I’ll work on receiving the gifts I’ve been given, embodying ways that I’ve grown, and reflecting on times that I missed the mark or things did not go well, and learning from and clearing those experiences. I think of it as a process of putting the year to bed. Of digesting, clearing and completing.
There are certainly other years that I dive squarely into the center of the holiday frenzy, and that’s great, too. Certainly one way of doing the holidays is not better than another. We can each choose to what degree we’ll participate in the frenzy – and use the barometer of enjoying the season to let us know how we’re doing.
Are you aiming for a reflective holiday this year? How will your holiday unfold?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a program at Kripalu that I am leading with my friends and colleagues Aruni and Lisa called Self-care and Mindfulness through the Holidays. It launches the night before winter solstice and runs to Christmas eve. If you are interested in doing the holidays mindfully, this will be a few days of prayer and ritual, joy and laughter. We’ve planned a collection of activities to help us find our own way of marking this auspicious time of year. So regardless of your past or current holiday traditions, here is a place to come together to practice, reflect on the holidays, and have a great time.