Rejoice in your Good Fortune!
This holiday season is a time laden with emotion. Memories of past celebrations and wishes for the future may fill our minds. For some, this is a joyous experience, for others a painful one.
For some, it is a time of community and joining in happy events with those we love; for others a time of loss and grief over days gone by. It can be a time of feeling fulfilled or a time of emptiness and longing. For many it is both.
How compelling it is to get caught up in the urgency of hanging decorations, buying presents and the challenge of navigating office parties and family gatherings. It is easy to enter a state of forgetfulness and miss the possibility of many golden, satisfying experiences.
The Loss of the Spiritual
Every year there are editorials in the newspaper about the shameful loss of the “spiritual” as the holidays (for many) have been transformed into an “orgy of consumption.” The critical nature of these diatribes, urging us to give up materialism and be more spiritual, rub a lot of people the wrong way. Feeling defensive about our customs and traditions, we are not inclined to look more deeply into the matter; yet there is something of value here. What has been lost to us from the past? What are the roots of these spiritual practices?
We know that these times of great darkness, at the Winter Solstice, are times of fear and despair in the history of humanity; especially before we could provide light for ourselves at night. Across many cultures, including Christianity and Judaism, celebrations of light and hope were enacted. You might like to visit this Wikipedia link
to learn about these many traditions, from cultures you may have never heard of. These celebrations were meant to provide hope and a rededication to the wholesome values embodied by the symbol of light.
The Mindful Perspective
What can we do from a mindful perspective to be present and truly benefit from this time of celebration? How can we employ our mindfulness to add our own light to the world;dispelling darkness.
There is a wonderful Buddhist practice that has become part of the Mind Body Intelligencetm tradition. It is called “Rejoicing in your Good Fortune”. In this practice we choose to loosen our ties to clinging and to help develop an appreciation for the many gifts that we have already been given in this lifetime. The practice does not deny us the pleasure of giving or receiving material things. In fact, it may enhance our pleasure in the very acts of giving and acquiring, while diminishing the importance of the object (gift) being received. You can enjoy this practice in sitting meditation or informally, any time that seems beneficial.
“Breathing in I am aware of a gift that I have been given.”
“Breathing out I am grateful for that gift.”
When I do this practice I am aware of the gift of being alive, of the breath, of health, of the ability to see or taste, of being creative; of my beautiful children, my husband, my pets, my home.
On the in-breath I identify the gift, on the out-breath I appreciate some aspect of the gift.
“Breathing in I am aware of the gift of my oldest child.
Breathing out I enjoy the image of her face.
Breathing in I am aware of the gift of my oldest child.
Breathing out I cherish her kind nature.
Breathing in......my oldest child
Breathing out I am aware of how she holds the future.”
If you invite yourself to practice like this for just a few minutes a day, you may notice a feeling of being quite wealthy. You may feel a deep sense of happiness for all the blessings you have received. And you may notice a shift in your focus of enjoyment; when your delight comes more from the experience of being given to, and not as much from the object being given.
Of-course this practice does not intend to discount the losses or unhappiness we may be reminded of, especially at this time of year. It does afford us the opportunity to tenderly and mindfully hold those sad things, so that we have room to create an inner space where happiness may be enjoyed as well.
From feelings of fulfillment and wealth, a natural well of generosity springs up. A generosity of spirit that enables us to be kind and loving, and to refrain from hurtful acts.
This truly creates a light against the cold darkness of winter’s criticism and judgment and holds a promise of a warm and compassionate spring for all of us!
May this information benefit you, those you love, and all sentient beings, everywhere.
Mind Body Intelligence tm is a trademark of Ellen M. Adelman PhD and the Sage Healing Institute.
For more information visit www.sagehealinginstitute.com.
©All rights reserved Ellen M. Adelman PhD 12/2012.