I don’t travel much so going to Chicago to see my sister Sheri and my nephews around the holiday was unusual. But it was also necessary, since it had been almost two years seeing my family. I travelled the day after Thanksgiving which made the trip less expensive and less crowded, and I came home just after everyone else did which also made it easy and comfortable. Those little things made the trip enjoyable as opposed to a stress inducer that could have easily ensued with the traffic, security, crowds, and long waits. But instead, there was definitely something more that kicked in the moment I checked my bag.
I’ve been watching the Hallmark Channel every day since Thanksgiving. Each night is a Christmas movie filled with love, lights, and all things imbued with the spirit of Christmas. Yes, they are joyful and often corny, but you come away feeling a bit more intoxicated with holiday cheer, instilled from the swig of Christmas spirit each show brings. I’ve lost count as to how many I’ve seen so far but my sister and I are on a roll. So excuse me if my analogies in this essay are sprinkled with way too much Christmas magic. Getting back to my trip, as soon as my friend dropped me off at the airport and the kind check-in agent took my one bag, I felt a spell of magic dust twirling me around and lifting the weight of the world off my shoulders. With my purse in hand and the luggage of my life behind, I was free.
I recall getting on the plane and texting my friend Jeff that I had three seats to myself and that they were leather and comfortable, with this TV screen right in my own personal seat —I’m sure the plane was new. We landed early, my baggage was waiting for me, Sheri scooped me up, and from there life was large in spontaneous moments and small in routine —for four glorious days! Games with the boys, midnight family outings playing whirly ball and pool, baking cookies, putting up the Christmas tree, cycling through all-time great movies, paging through old photographs of mom, planning our own HGTV series, walking the 100 lb. dog that slept ON me each night, and more. I slipped into their life unsubmerged from the heavy activities of my own life, available to see and participate in a much bigger existence that calls us all. Free with time, free to listen, free to what the moment was offering or asking of me, free to the present, accessing presents money could never buy —joy, love, giggles, connection, gratitude.
I’m currently reading a very intelligent and kindly confrontational book from a sincere author, Michael Singer, called The Untethered Soul. It is a must read for everyone on the path, as Singer has you contemplate in each chapter that which you are not. You breakdown the “person” you’ve created and why, in order to discover that which you are. As my Hallmark Movies speak to in a far lighter way, the spirit we possess is far more vast when we move out of the structure (or house, as Michael calls it in the book) we’ve built over the years of our lives in order to carefully contain it. We all believe that having control is so much safer, but that’s counter and limiting to the experiences we can have when we open up, put up the lights outside the house, and illuminate ourselves even more brightly. I was reminded in another book that I read daily that the habit-forming rules we create give us a false sense of security. If we aren’t careful, even the best of intentions can make life mechanical and “lull the soul into a comatose condition.” And then we’ve lost our hearts completely.
My suggestion is that you use the pressure of the holidays to push yourself out of the house! All the influence from society to participate in the holidays is the power you can use —and likely need— to step up and away from the submersion of your tightly guarded routine and break free into real time, spontaneity, and memorable moments that you’d otherwise miss!
My time in Chicago was precious. It enabled me to return home refreshed and appreciative of the life that I’ve created here. I experienced “my house” from the outside by disengaging so I could procure a higher perspective to the one I have on the inside. Our yoga practice, honestly, is the greatest tool of all to exercise these differing perspectives. The beautiful sequence gives you confidence and power in which you can practice and play with that which you are, simply by doing postures while watching yourself in the mirror. Continue to narrow your focus —day after day—on the moment, no matter how hard that can be. You’ll notice the golden nuggets of true insight that come up, and when you do, relax in the calm —or sometimes, disturbance— that may be there. In time you’ll find yourself falling behind the noise, and like the magical spirit the holidays can provide, you’ll be free to live in whatever that moment brings. In that moment is the magic that mysteriously relieves you of resistance and worry, while at the same time illuminating for you peace, love, and joy.