From the week of Thanksgiving, all the way through Christmas, one hears the word “stress” increasingly creeping into every day interaction. That is how it is in the U.S. anyway. That is all I know. I don’t know how much people stress over Raksha Bandhan gifts or preparations for Holi or Diwali in India but I have a feeling these celebrations are not accompanied by such drama.
I get annoyed by the constant “stress” for one thing, but I also mourn for it. For one thing I think we put too much expectation on each other and on ourselves during the holidays. If we can’t love each other appropriately during the summer then what makes us think we can do it in November-December? However, as a new friend of mine has recently noted decrying an overall lack of “Christmas Spirit” in the U.S., it is not so much that we can’t love each other as much now as we did in the summer. The problem is that we treat each other worse during the holidays than we ever did!!
I haven’t touched on suicide, because contrary to popular belief, suicide rates in the U.S. are comparably low from November through January. But loss of a sense of Self can be just as tragic. Stress and depression are still rampant during the end-of-year crunch we call “Holy Days”.
We truly lose our sense of Self during the holidays. Stress does that. If ever there were a time for one to take up meditation on one’s inner workings, on one’s Higher Self, it is during the month leading up to Christmas, amplified significantly this week, the last few days before the holiday. Separate yourself from all such concerns first. Sit quietly. Breathe evenly, and quiet your mind from all of the rambling that goes on in your head. Don’t worry, that rambling is not something to be ashamed of. It is universal. It is what keeps us in chains. Let it go, stop thinking and just feel. If you give it enough time, and really make it a point to free yourself from thoughts of the disappointments of the past year, or worries for the coming holiday (“Will they like their gifts? Is it enough?”) or worries ahead to the coming year, what you will feel inside is the Source. The ground of all Being. That is true love. And it very well may be a integral part of what was referred to above as the “Christmas Spirit.”
I myself tend to be a bit of a Grinch-like creature around this time myself but only because I see so much frustration and depression, and what I’d call confusion during this time of year, so I’d like to say this unto you: I know many of my readers are in the West and celebrate Christmas just as ardently as any Hindu festival, and likely much more (assuming you identify at all with Hinduism). That doesn’t matter. This goes beyond religion. Beyond all differences and all space between us. And I know I am chiming in a bit late, but during this Christmas, I wish you all peace within, peace with your fellow man, and peace with your circumstances. I wish you the peace that surpasses all understanding.
Aum, Shanti, Shanti Shanti!
Jai Hari Aum.
Shubh Yeshua Jayanthi.