A ‘Stress-less Christmas’, has the potential to better nurture the soul and bring peace to all.
With the festive holidays looming, the ‘season to be jolly’ can at times threaten our authentic expression. We so desperately want to praise the lord, give the gift of love and join in on the festivities, but somewhere, in the shadows of our psyche, we sense the orphans of self-betrayal, bewilderment and disappointment…
The hype around Yuletide can often leave us exhausted, shredding our nervous system into surrender. We give of ourselves until there is nothing left, and what when the emptiness consumes us. Keeping up with general responsibilities, meeting seasonal expectations, whilst managing lower than optimal brain chemistry, due to the lack of daylight, puts heavy burden on our emotions during winter – perhaps this is why bears hibernate!
Whilst the gift of giving is poignant at this time of year, it is also important to maintain a self-care routine if we are to sustain the ebb and flow of the Christmas current. Compassion is born from loving kindness, it’s not about things, it’s about our actions towards self and others. To give the gift of compassion is perhaps the greatest gift of all and remembering this avoids us acting out of guilt or expectation.
Compassion begins at home and this is where we struggle. We may shower others with gifts to win their love and acceptance, but self-compassion is not about indulging ourselves with stuff. To appreciate and embrace our uniqueness is the means for such inner peace. Unless acquired, we tend to seek validation from others. Such work is not easy and often requires solitary exploration.
But, with an epidemic of isolation and loneliness sweeping our busier than ever lives, how, I hear you ask, how can solitude be advantageous?
As an only child I never struggled with my own company, I always occupied my time when there was no one to play with. But, no matter how we expand our imagination, the struggles of isolation go much deeper than being alone.
Isolation is a different beast altogether, it’s a feeling not a mind-set. Those that carry this feeling can be in a room of people and it seem totally empty. Such dysregulation is experienced when the mind separates from the body as a coping strategy to certain life stressors. It is as though the carpet has been swept from beneath. A sudden realisation that things are not aligned – the overwhelming trauma of loss – loss of self. In such instances the internal sense of coherence becomes disrupted and the journey back to wholeness seemingly impossible.
The natural human process is to respond to deprivation and adjust accordingly.
Generally, in order to ‘feel whole’ the mind seeks distractions or other stimulation – to feel alive again. In a world of false hope, it seems easier to self-medicate, than to revisit and re-cognise our past experiences. The problem lies, as with all addiction, that numbing the senses requires more and more sedation – and so the endless search for inner peace continues. But what happens when the distractions lose their potency? Solitude can bring us home again.
Aligning the body-mind with our wholeness takes time and self-compassion, but rarely do we allow for this…
The antidote to isolation therefore is solitude. This may seem counter intuitive but the road less travelled is often lined with roses. To sit in silence, with one’s self, is quite different from feeling isolated. Solitude has a sense of receptivity, an aliveness, beyond our own heartbeat, that pulsates throughout the universe. It is as though we arrive home, the source of our own intelligence reveals itself, here we nurture feelings of interconnectedness.
When we internalise this awesome power, we realise our insignificance on the scale of things and the isolated ego drops away. The hemispheres of our brain align, our breath harmonises with the world and all its flaws, and we welcome them as our own. Instead of wanting to change our situation or others we allow everything to wash over us. With such heartfelt sensitivity we begin to embody our instinctual intelligence – it can neither be added to nor taken away from us. We feel whole and intimately connected to all things. From the core of our being, we are empowered to hold space for others, our gift to the world is pure presence.
Feelings of isolation become compounded during the festive season and this is where our presence can be gifted. To give the gift of compassion does not add to our shopping list in the conventional sense. We can give moments of care to those most in need whilst remaining grounded in receptivity for ourselves.