This is my favorite time of year. I love the cloak of the early-descending darkness which invites a turning inward as nature is moving into a state of dormancy where so much is happening under the surface. In the Christian calendar, the Sunday after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the season of Advent. While I no longer practice in this tradition, this time of preparing the way for the Light that comes in the midst of darkness resonates strongly with me. For me it is a time to look back at the year gone by, to take an accounting, so to speak, of all of the blessings, challenges, opportunities (often all rolled into one) that I have experienced, to give thanks for it all, to clear out the residue, and to make space for what will unfold in the year to come. Interestingly in our culture, we have turned this time into a very external and distracted time, with shopping and parties and lots of time spent with family and friends. For many, the busy-ness, the weight of obligation, or perhaps painful circumstances past or present, make this time anything but joyful and peaceful. We run at breakneck speed through the next weeks and breathe a sigh of relief when it is all over and then we resolve to do things differently next year.
The invitation of our yoga is to make our meaning, to turn what is being presented in each moment, whether mundane, challenging, or glorious, into something sacred – something worthy of reverence and respect, highly valued and important (unassailable inviolable). How each of us does this is our choice entirely, but we start by paying attention, and by paying attention to what we are paying our attention to. Simply paying attention slows us down and turns us towards a place of quietude. What can you do to make this season sacred and meaningful for you? One of the ways that I do this is to extend the season of thanks giving by writing and sending a note of gratitude each day to someone who has supported, inspired, or challenged me in the previous year. You might decide to be more intentional about the gatherings you attend or the shopping you do, intentionally choosing how you spend your time so you can be more fully present. Maybe making time to be in nature more, paying your attention to the way the light is changing now, will help you slow down and prepare for a fresh start and new growth. Maybe you take time to look people in the eye as you shop and exchange gifts so you don’t miss the greatest gift of all, that of presence. Maybe you read inspirational words each day or commit to even a short daily yoga, meditation, pranayama or mantra practice. Maybe you simply pay your attention to your breath, to your incredible aliveness, for five minutes each day. Maybe you let go of old resentments and make peace with your past so you move into the new year freed of the residue from years gone by. So many choices! When we use our attention and intention to turn each moment into a sacred moment, then we prepare the way for that which is sacred, unassailable, inviolable, and light within us to shine more brightly. How will you pay your attention during these days?