These two words are highlighted for me during the holy-day season: Gratitude and Joy. We can't have one without the other. In order to experience the bright light of inner joy, gratitude adorns herself. Each time we look at her and gaze upon her beauty and delights in praise and adoration, she graces us with more joy. Each time we look away from her and focus on all that is not to our preference or liking about ourselves, our lives, other people or the happenings on the planet, joy’s light grows dim within us.
In the northern hemisphere, we are heading into the darkest days of the year. It’s a time to embrace the shorter days to for more rest, deeper connection to ourselves and the Divine Light within each of us, and to enjoy time spent with our most intimate of relationships.
Planetarily, we just moved into the sign of Sagittarius, a fire sign, on November 22nd, which symbolizes faith, hope, optimism, long-term vision, and our quest for our own truth. It represents publishing, long distance travel, and studying and learning new things, with an emphasis around spiritual teachings and natural law. It's ruled by the planet Jupiter, which seeks to expand everything that it influences. Not only are we in the sign of Sagittarius now through December 21st, but the planet Jupiter has just moved from Scorpio into Sagittarius for the next 12 months. This benefic planet also symbolizes joy, abundance, gratitude and expansion and brings a spirit of hope and renewal, a much needed encouragement after a year for many of us that has been quite unsettling and at times dark and heavy. The expansive nature of Jupiter can move us from despair to action, from confusion to clarity, and into a deeper connection to our own truth. The shadow side of it is that It can also bring over expansiveness and a feeling of “too much.” As the saying goes, “Too much of a good thing is too much.” So within the expansiveness of the energy of the next year, it's still a vitally important to be rooted in integrity and grounded in our actions, considering the impact they will have on ourselves, our bodies and on those around us.
What feels so supportive to me about the energy of right now is a fresh awareness of joy in our lives. Joy is the deeper expression of happiness. While happiness’s light ebbs and flows and is only present when everything is going to our liking, joy is like a candlelight in a dark room, always radiating out it's soft, comforting glow despite the circumstances going on around us, even when we don't feel like being joyful. Brene Brown says in her book, Daring Greatly, that in order to experience joy, we must cultivate gratitude, and that the layer beneath the joy and gratitude is true self-acceptance.
So how do we cultivate more gratitude so we can experience more joy? By being gentle with ourselves. Practicing self-compassion. Self-love. Self-forgiveness. Accepting ourselves ~ Our shadow, limitations, scars and all! If this doesn’t come easy to you, by all means ask for Divine support.
"Dear Child of God, you are loved with a love that nothing can shake, a love that loved you long before you were created, a love that will be there long after everything has disappeared. . . . And God wants you to be like God. Filled with life and goodness and laughter—and joy." —Desmond Tutu
How do we practice self-acceptance during this holiday season and experience more gratitude and joy? Here is what I will be keeping in mind this month:
~Keep things simple. What expectations are you placing on yourself that instead of bringing you joy, they bring up anxiety and stress in your body? Practice letting go of at least one thing this season that feels heavy instead of spacious in your body.
~Make space. There are always holy moments around us, if we simply have the space to pause and experience them. Instead of over-scheduling yourself in the next few weeks, only say yes to things that really sound delightful to your heart and energizing to your body, otherwise let yourself be spacious in your schedule and allow for space to go deeper within and to connect with others.
~Treat yourself like you would a child. Every morning before you get out of bed, place your hand on your heart and tell yourself, “I love you.” Each time you look at yourself in the mirror during the day, tell yourself something like, “I see you and I am here for you, “You are beautiful and I got your back.” When you make a mistake and something doesn't go your way, practice letting go and being compassionate with yourself. Give yourself a hug like you would a child. Being connected to our own inner child is a real, important part of understanding ourselves, our triggers and our reactions toward ourselves and others. The next time you feel irritable, frustrated, or exhausted, ask your inner child what it is really needing. Maybe it is a nap, to stop and eat something nourishing, or to say no to a request and instead do something that enlivens you like playing a game, being creative, or dancing!
~Get plenty of rest. Embrace the shorter days by going to bed earlier or pausing to do a restorative yoga pose, like Legs Up the Wall pose, in the middle of your afternoon or to calm your mind before going to bed. And if you're in Teton Valley, join me for weekly yoga classes on Mondays & Fridays at 9:00 am and Restorative yoga at 3:30pm on Sundays, or any one of the many wonderful yoga classes at Yoga Off Little studio for a weekly reset.
May we all have a more peaceful, restful holy-day season filled with a deeper experience of the Divine Light within each of us.
Happy holy-days to each of you!