It’s hard sticking to your spiritual and/or health routine during the holidays. Family comes to you or you travel to them. There are late night parties filled with tasty, tasty munchies and lots of opportunities to revel in wine-soaked smiles.
That’s all a good thing, and, I’d argue, just another dimension of your practice. Tantric philosophy says that each moment offers it’s own opportunity for waking up. Thus each moment is perfect as it is. In the spirit of the tantric philosophy, I say jump right in and dance. Engage with the Lila of life. Drink another glass of wine, turn the music up, and take a spin on the dance floor. I believe that a good spiritual practice engages one with life and roots one in the present moment. A good spiritual practice gives us a strong sense of self and allows us to trust in that spirit. We’re not going to lose touch with our pulsing energy within by indulging in chocolate and late nights with family and friends. We also won’t lose that inner heart connection at a shopping trip to the mall to save money on last minute Christmas gifts.
I’m not saying that one can’t find inner peace and spiritual fulfillment through asceticism and by striving to remove oneself from desires and human civilization. I am saying that it’s not the only way to inner peace. We can have our cake and eat it too! We can root down in our routine practices, setting time aside to meditate, practice yoga, pray, walk in the forest — whatever reconnects you to Spirit, and then we can take that inner presence and carry it into our everyday.
Through our increased awareness to the subtle flow of energy within, we can relate more authentically to the people around us. We can access our compassion when dealing with the inevitable difficult people who cross our paths, be they the frazzled girl checking people out at the mall on Christmas Eve, our child asking for the hundredth time if we’re there yet, or the slow moving cars on the highway as we drive home at night. Our practice keeps us connected to the Spirit so that we can more fully appreciate the present moment. Because really, what else is there but the present moment?
Patanjali states in The Yoga Sutras that practicing with Mantra is like scuba diving. (Ok, I was working with a pretty modern translation, as I don’t imagine there was scuba diving 2,000+ years ago when the Sutras were first penned.) So, Mantra is like scuba diving in that it gives us a lifeline from our bodies floating beneath the sea to the boat floating on the surface of the water high above us. With this life line, we’re able to explore the beauty of all that surrounds us, the colorful fish flitting by, the alien-looking sea plants moving with the currents, the way our weightless bodies feel under water, all the while knowing that we have an escape route to the world above. Using mantra, yoga, meditation, prayer, or another practice, is that lifeline for our everyday. Each day we come to the mat and recommit to our practice, we are creating another link in a chain that connects us to our limitless heart. As we strengthen and lengthen this chain, we find that we’re able to explore more of the world and find more joy, more authentic connection, and more examples of the beauty of Spirit all around us.
So take a moment to appreciate the way Jingle Bells sounds played again this year for Christmas. Admire the lights that twinkle bright year after year as they adorn your tree, the neighbor’s windows, or the city streets. Allow yourself to get caught up in the joy of giving and receiving, and sit wrapped in the warmth that comes from a connection to the thread of joy and connection that pulses through it all.