Yoga Tip: How to insure Sacred Holidays

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As a small child the Holiday Season was magical. I always looked forward to my Aunt (Thea) Penny taking the train up from Boston (which seemed like a big deal) and staying with us for 2 or 3 days. There were presents, delicious Greek Desserts (my mom rarely served us sweets the rest of the year), family gatherings and lots of excitement. I remember walking through Northshore Shopping Center before it became a mall and my Mom and Dad pointing to these gargantuan wooden toy soldiers posted like sentries along the edge of the middle walkway between the stores. If someone asked me why Christmas was such a big deal, these are things I would have mentioned.

Now as an adult I can purchase my own toys. I don’t need my parents to fulfill my need for things. My hope is that I have learned how to align with a higher authority to provide my needs and fulfill my dreams. Thea Penny died years ago. These days baklava and other sweets (which I don’t know how to properly spell but I once cherished so much) leave me feeling hungover if I indulge by eating a small fraction of what I used to consume. Most of the relatives outside my nuclear family seem very away (even if it’s only a couple miles). So what is this Holiday Season besides a patriotic duty to jumpstart GNP?

What is peculiar about the practice of yoga, which originated in India, is that I observed many American Christians and non-Christians discovering the transformational spirit of CHRISTmas in a heartfelt way at a Yoga (Kripalu) Center lead by an Indian Guru (Amrit Desai). On the surface this statement makes no sense. How could an Indian Yogi articulate the spirit of a Christian Holiday in such fashion that people would book their reservations months ahead of time to hear this man speak and meditate upon Christ Consciousness. Isn’t there a conflict? Isn’t Yoga part of the Hindu religious tradition? At Kripalu for the first time in my life I invited the presence of Christ into my heart during this Holiday Season. This opening had nothing to do with presents, food, or family. And everything to do with a vibration of love distilled through months and years of yoga practice of many individuals. Steady Yoga practice when combined with meditation and yearning to connect with the Divine (by whatever Name) can open up mystical pathways. The Christ said many times that his path was not meant to begin and end with one individual … but what I have done … you shall do and more. In India and elsewhere it is well documented that Jesus studied with masters in India. In general, I steer clear of religious statements because religion is such a loaded subject. But during this sacred time, can we not take inspiration from those Great Ones who have come before us to align with Source and Self? Perhaps it is time for a personal evolution in how each of us celebrates HOLY Days such as Chanukah, Ramadan, CHRISTmas, and Kwanzaa. Here are some suggestions:

1. Light a candle alone or with loved ones whose hearts are willing. Perhaps create an altar with photos or other sacred pieces such as crystals. Holding hands in a circle, Call out to the Divine. Offer a heartfelt prayer. Invite others to do the same. Sit with hands clasped in silence … with long deep breaths … listen and invite the presence of the Divine. No experience is required. Just a willingness to child-like and open.

2. Use the Christmas tree as a focal point for heartfelt expressions of prayer and communion … either when decorating it, placing presents underneath it, or simply enjoying its quiet beauty. Sometimes the excuse of sharing the sacred with little ones is the most powerful way to connect with our own inner little ones.

3. Invoke the presence of Spirit at your family gatherings … perhaps before main meal … or with select individuals for 5 minutes of communion. When 2 or more gather in Thy Name.

4. Today there are so many obvious things to pray for in this world … peace on earth … shift from excess consumerism to excess spiritualism … abundance and health for one and all. However I invite each of us to pray for qualities which transform us … compassion, insight, consciousness … qualities which bring us closer to the Christ or Buddha or White Buffalo Calf Woman or other mystics who walked before us. May this Holy Time be truly Holy!