Wednesday, December 19, 2018

My Holiday Survival Guide - On the Art of Sharing Joy

There are times to be happy and times to be happier, the holidays are made for that. You can be happy and celebrate if you have enough time to do that. If not everything becomes a dreadful drag, annoying to the max. So, how to survive holidays without stressing out about it?

my favorite star
for my Christmas tree
handmade by Ania

First, limit the number of events, gifts, projects. If you do not finish something, do not worry. You can always do it next year. I send Christmas cards by mail, still, because I like it. I start addressing them from different end of the alphabet each year, in this way if I run out of time and do not send some cards one year, I'm sure to send it the next year, I'll do more than half each time... That's the virtue of moderation...

a wine-red planet
filled with surprises inside - 
a pomegranate

Second, enjoy the moment. Holidays are for taking time OFF projects and work, and we managed to convert them into MORE work. So let's reverse the trend and from time to time just do nothing. Buy fewer, less expensive, more engaging gifts. Like books, or favorite movie classics, or board games...
Spend time outside, go to the park, work in the garden, or take that book you were going to give away for Christmas but just could not stop yourself from reading and lie down on a blanket in your backyard or sit on your favorite chair on your balcony, and enjoy!  That's the virtue of wisdom or prudence..

bright red and green 
for December, for July - 
joy in the garden

Third, be always grateful and kind. So you had that fender bender in the Christmas tree parking lot? Are you going to get mad and start yelling at the other party, or are you going to wish them Merry Christmas anyway?  Are you going to cut off someone in traffic because you have to be everywhere first, or are you going to drive more carefully, listening to your favorite Christmas carols, and singing along to your heart delight? So what if you are five minutes late? OK, an hour is a problem, but then you have to leave much, much earlier.  That's the virtue of gratitude with kindness.

like a pomegranate
we are seeds tightly packed
onto our planet

Fourth rule is about sharing. And what about the unwanted gifts, those ugly sweaters, or ridiculous decorations you have no room for? Say thanks, appreciate the intention, and send good thoughts to the misguided giver, and then... give it to someone else who might like it, or donate it to a charity. You'd be surprised how many charities would like some extra Christmas decorations or ugly sweaters, especially those dealing with the homeless. The most important thing is the intention of sharing and celebrating together. The joy of Christmas... That's the virtue of generosity...

And when you make your gifts or bring things to a holiday gathering, remember it is all about time and effort and intention, and not at all about money. I remember a lovely Tibetan tale about the Emperor who ha donkey ears and his barber's mom, who saved the boy's life by baking sweet-scented cookies made of milk, rice flower, and the full power of her motherly love... The Emperor was so moved by them that he relented and allowed the barber to live, even though he killed all other ones, out of fear that they would have exposed his ridiculous secret. On one level, we all have our own donkey ears, our ugly secrets. On another, we all know how to bake cookies filled with love...

a kiss a day
makes sorrow go away
twice as fast

Fifth Holiday Survival Rule is about writing and giving. Write something positive and nice about someone and give it to them. I do it every year at work, write 30 or more cards with personal messages to my co-workers I share most of my daylight hours with. They are happy to eat a Lindt chocolate and read their card, with  smiles on their faces. Yet their joy does not compare with the joy I feel when I think of all these good wishes for all these good people - every time I write "may your year be full of health, happiness, prosperity and peace" I feel a bit lighter... That's one reason why I do it. It makes me feel better, be better.  That's the virtue of service.

inside is outside 
red seeds on top of Pavlova -
my daughter's gift

That's the real antidote of stressing out whether the gifts are elegant enough, the wrapping is perfect enough, the cake is decorated well enough, the house is spotless, and the parties' guest list most fashionable and distinguished... Just give the gifts of appreciation and love to all those around you and by the very act of giving, you will receive so much joy in return.

Today, I picked photos of pomegranates from my garden to illustrate this post, even though the pomegranates are all eaten, by me, squirrels, and birds, and the trees barren, even the golden leaves have fallen off. The pomegranate is the fruit of love and abundance: all these delicious little fruits packed so tightly inside! Like humans and other living sentient beings on our planet. So tightly, we cannot help by adjust our rough corners to others next to us...and love them as we love ourselves!

red fruit gone
pomegranate turns  pure gold -
 timeless riches

Finally, Christmas holiday is placed on the calendar near the Winter Solstice, when the days stop becoming shorter and nights longer, and after the longest night, the Earth becomes brighter and brighter every day... In the Northern hemisphere, at last. So it is a celebration of the victory of Light over Darkness, the victory of Love over Lack of Love... the Victory of Victory of the Great Cosmic Victory, and on, ad infinitum....

Bright Sun above , its radiance all around me
Bright Sun within, awakened by its touch
I breathe the Light, my heart sings of its brilliance
My mind my body dance in endless Light.
My days are full of peace, pure radiant beauty
Bright Sun above, my joy, my love, my light. 

How can you turn towards Light, when you are too busy to breathe? Or so it seems with under the avalanche of so many "to-dos" every day... Here are some simple meditations on Light inside you an Light around you that you do not have to memorize, read in their entirety, but simply imagine. Imagination works! It will clear the space around you, clear your mind, and clear your heart... Ready? Get going!

Imagine, A Poem of Light

Are you an apple? Or maybe a ripe seed 

inside an apple of light - so you are snug
and safe in the core of a torus of light rays?
You are wrapped in white light, dazzling 
rays flowing around, from your crown into 
toes, enveloping you in a bright cocoon 
of magnetic lines, with six-winged angels 
on all sides, gladly watching over you...

Are you, perhaps, a fountain? 

Your heart, a spring of goodness.
Liquid light overflows all over you. 
Your heart-beat marks a smooth rhythm 
of the gentle pulse of the heart fountain. 
This light is the miracle you forget about 
every day, oblivious, while your blood carries 
your heart-light into every cell of the body.

Not a fountain? Then, a star, maybe? 

Or two stars. The larger one brightly shines
on your chest, its rays straight and dazzling.
Multicolored sparkles dance in brightness.
Another star glows on your forehead, 
as new and radiant as your heart star.
Here you are: a rainbow of light  
still shining - shining - shining - 

(c) Maja Trochimczyk, 2018

a sunburst 
and a pink umbrella
all made of light
compete with red leaves
for my attention

Imagination and meditation are very important. There are only two forces in the entire cosmos - love that connects everything and fear that destroys everything. Or Love an Lack. So you have to turn to love and cut yourself off from fear. "I revoke, or cancel all contracts and agreements wtih the dark, for the dark, all in the present, future and the past. I dedicate my life to the service of love and light." Now, everything is pure, bright, radiant divine love. So be it and so it is.

You could then bring this brightness to everyone you know. In the "Loving Kindness Meditation" you open your heart to send prayers and good wishes out for all beings. I found it on Stillness in the Storm blog:

"Beginning with yourself you say: May I be well, May I be happy, May I be at peace. Then you move onto friends and family members, repeating the phrases  (May you be well, May you be happy, May you be at peace), while visualising your loved ones. Finally you move onto someone you are having difficulties with, bring them into your mind and repeat the heartfelt prayers that they be well, happy and at peace. You can also use Loving Kindness Meditation to pray for groups of people, animals, or the whole world." Easy, non?

Time for a Christmas poem, then. With all the things to do this year, I finally wrote a new Christmas poem, but I'm also reproducing here a favorite from the past.

like the red thread
in the hand-embroidered sign -
love is everything

Christmas  is Love

Did you know that Christmas
Is love, love, love, only love 
To be shared and cherished?
When baking together, hands
Covered in flour, fingertips
Sweetened with chopped figs 
Or purple from peeling beets
For the barszcz, the Wigilia staple,
While the honeyed voice of 
Nat King Cole asks us to have 
Ourselves a merry, little Christmas.

Love means sharing a laugh 
At the antics of the dog that runs 
In circles on the lawn, so happy 
To be free without leash, orders to 
Sit, roll, be still, obey the master. 
Love is a quiet moment thinking
How to write the warmest wishes
To send far away, so far, this year
So that only kindest feelings
Are captured in words that glisten 
With happiness and affection.

Merry Christmas!!!

(c) 2018 by Maja Trochimczyk

Merry Christmas to all! 

Happy New Year 2019! 

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