Way back in the last century, I had a professor in college, named Ray Birdwhistell, who was a friend of famed anthropologist Margaret Mead and a great Yogi. I’m not sure if he ever did a pose but when it came to telling the unvarnished truth he was unparalleled. One of the truths he imparted is that most holidays are hate holidays and that the bigger the occasion the higher the hate factor!
Oh no you say, I love the holidays. If so, you are in a distinct minority. For better or worse, the holidays are a time of reflection on the way we wish things were and how they are not measuring up. They are a time to dredge up disappointments from the past and compare them to our current predicaments. This is a time of year when we are expected to gather around with people we rarely see anymore and revel in a special bond we are too busy to nurture. We have to spend all kinds of money we don’t have trying to please people who are impossible to make happy. Many of us have to travel great distances to wallow in all this discomfort and those who skip it are left with the loneliness of being alone when everyone is supposed to be together. Does this sound like it doesn’t suck to you? I didn’t think so.
So what is a yogi to do? f you are one of the people fortunate enough to be centered at this time of year or possibly even upbeat, looking forward to the chaos and the sharing ahead, give the people around you who are suffering a lot of room to move through their stuff. All the frustrated travelers, angry customers, disappointed relations, depressed souls need to vent and share and be cared for. And if you are one of them give yourself a break. The days have been markedly shorter. Your primitive mind is afraid that the world is dying. No wonder your energy is low, your temper short, your desire to share at a low ebb. All this is happening while the world around you is exploding with messages about how great you should be feeling. Ho, ho, holy shit. Give yourself great latitude and listen to the difficult feelings that come up. Have some hot tea and take care of yourself as best you can. Once you do you may have something left to share with others.
So, recognizing the truth of the situation, where does that leave us as yogis? Grousing about the hateful nature of the holidays? Not in the least. Learning to love all of it is our challenge. The hard parts, the sad parts and the tidings of comfort and joy. Accepting it all and letting it all pass through us and encouraging others to do the same. That is where the hate holiday becomes a love holiday as we unite in our common humanity. Rejoice with the joyful and weep with the downcast and love everyone, including yourself, as best you can. I’m sure Ray Birdwhistell, loving curmudgeon that he was, would approve.
From me and mine to you and yours I wish you Peace and Love this holiday season.
Ray has been a yoga practitioner since 1969. An honors graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, his livelihood has been based on television production, art publishing and now yoga supply manufacturing and sales at Yoga Life Style. Until 1997, Ray only shared his yoga practice with friends and relatives.Then he started teaching a class in his hometown of New Paltz,NY and soon after was offered the opportunity to participate in the inaugural teacher training program of well known master Sri Yogi Dharma Mittra. Ray recieved his certification and his Sanskrit name “Yogeshvara Om”, in September of 2000. In the lineage of Swami Gupta, our main credo is simply, “Be Nice.” According to Ray ” Through love and good intentions, discipline, hard work and faith, progress is assured.”