So the holiday season is upon us. And for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, nature is going into its dormant phase. Many of the trees are dropping their leaves and plants are pulling their energy inward and underground. When I walk out in my garden, it’s still. And it feels really good to have this space where quietude is the natural way of things.
Contrast that scene with our human norms during this time of year. For most people, it’s CRAZY BUSY. Stores are blaring holiday music and telling you there’s just a few shopping days left ‘till Xmas. Companies are cranking away to make their end-of year financial goals. Families and friends are making plans to visit and celebrate. Social calendars are booking up.
And while our human ways can feel productive and even celebratory at holiday time, it’s also quite exhausting for most people. Wayne Muller, in his book called Sabbath: Restoring The Sacred Rhythm of Rest, puts it this way:
Our relentless emphasis on success and productivity has become a form of violence. We have lost the necessary rhythm of life, the balance between effort and rest, doing and not doing. Constantly striving, we feel exhausted and deprived in the midst of great abundance, longing for time with friends and family, longing for a moment to ourselves.
Not to mention that we are running COUNTER to the slower rhythms of nature at this time of year. Winter is meant of be a time of REST!
Yes, I said REST.
This is a word we seem to have forgotten in our fast-paced Western Culture. We are moving and lightning speed and multi-tasking like mad. We are doing MORE with LESS support. And most of us are really pretty tired.
Because we hardly stop to rest, most of us are deeply tired.
In nature, we celebrate the changing of the seasons. And every farmer knows that a recipe for getting a healthy abundant crop is to leave the fields fallow for a period of time. But it’s not that nothing is happening during these fallow periods. The soil is regenerating. The nutrients are building back up. The plants are building their internal infrastructure and their root system is expanding beneath the ground. Without this fallow time, nature could not come out in her full splendor next Spring-with bountiful crops and glorious flowers.
We humans aren’t so different. We also need deep periods of stillness, rest, and “down time.” But our culture doesn’t really celebrate these things. With only two weeks of vacation a year at most jobs, there’s time for little more than a few family visits or a quick vacation.
So we keep pushing and pushing. And many of us, including me, have ended-up with adrenal burnout. I was reading an article recently where it stated that approximately 80 percent of people today will experience adrenal fatigue in their lifetime. Wow. That’s at the level of an epidemic (which it’s become). So it’s touching most of us these days.
So if you want to keep up your big, bright life. If you want to fully show-up for your family and your friends; if you want to make a big difference, you have really got to REST my friends. And nurture yourselves! This is not selfish behavior, but totally REQUIRED for folks who are going to be putting out a lot into the world. And I know a bit about all of you-you GIVE a lot. And you’ll burnout FOR REAL if you don’t charge up those batteries.
So here’s my suggestions of key holiday gifts to YOURSELF. If you fill up your own cup so that you are radiant and abundant, this will be nothing but FABULOUS for you, your family, and your work.
Devaa’s Top Ten Tips For Holiday Self-Nurturance
- Sleep a lot! I highly recommend averaging nine to ten hours of sleep per night—at least for a little while. You might think I am a total sloth or off my rocker, but just try it for a few days. You will thank me later.
- Get regular bodywork (aka massage). Not just once a year on your birthday. If I can, I go every other week (and my husband goes weekly-even with his full-on job as CEO of Shift Network).
- Take a day of Sabbath. I suggest every week, but at least every other week. When I say “Sabbath,” I mean a day with no plans, no “home projects,” no laundry. Just a day where you get to do whatever would bring you the greatest joy or satisfaction in the moment. Yoga class? Spontaneous hike? Read a book? If you have kids, you will probably need to drop them at a friend’s house for the day to make it possible. And you can reciprocate the favor the next week. For more on this topic, check out this book I mentioned above called Sabbath by Wayne Muller.
- Uplevel your fragrance with essential oils. We all want to smell yummy, but I encourage you to toss a few of those chemical perfumes and opt for some essential oils. My new favorite is a blend of rose and sandalwood from Amma, the hugging saint from India. It’s on sale at her shop for twenty-eight dollars and makes a great holiday gift too.
- Expand in front of the fire. Let yourself just lay on the floor in front of a cozy fire with a lot of pillows and some blankets. This can be a great opportunity to expand your consciousness and engage your intuition. I like to ask deep soul questions into the fire, then watch for the shapes and images that appear in the flames. One can interpret those images as answers to the questions posed-a beautiful collaboration between you and the greater spirit of life.
- Try a weekly yin yoga class at a local studio. For those of you unfamiliar with yin yoga, this is not a dynamic faced-paced yoga-cize class for fat burning. No, not at all. It’s more like doing a restorative “nap time” in some gentle stretch positions, but with lots of props and support. Now entering the chill zone!
- Support your spirit with flower essences. Those who are energetically sensitive will especially notice the effects. I’ve been using a common blend called “Rescue Remedy” made by Bach. But I’ve also started using their Olive Flower, which is said to be good for when you feel overwhelmed (like right now!). You can get both online at www.amazon.com
- Take long baths. After a stressful day, my favorite activity is a long bath with candle light and some mellow music (like my new Sacred Alchemy album!) I have been using Epson salts in my bath for years, and they are great. But after a recent class with Grandmother Flordemayo, she suggested adding healing herbs to the bath-like Rosemary-which I happen to have in my backyard. But you could use other healing herbs that are local to your environment too. Let yourself soak for a good while-at least thirty minutes (I usually end-up in there for an hour until I am too pruned and have to get out).
- Enjoy a coconut lube job. After that long bath I mentioned above, try topping it off with an slippery layer of coconut oil-straight out of the food pantry! It’s especially nice if you take time to apply it slowly to your body, imagining you are sending love to every part of your body as you apply the oil. This oil will leave your skin feeling so soft and supple, and it can be used at night in your hair-if it’s dry or color treated. It’s also an amazing (and inexpensive) personal lubricant. And it smells and tastes great! You can get it at a health food store and is usually found near the olive oil. Mmmm…
- Celebrate the Winter Solstice 12/22. Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year. It’s a time to celebrate the darkness and its stillness, while celebrating our connection to the Earth and the return of the light. On this night we have an opportunity to name and release those situations or patterns which are ready to be “lost into the night.” We have an opportunity to symbolically die and reborn.
- You might check around in your local area to see if there’s a local Winter Solstice gathering, or create your own alone or with friends
If you are open to a more Pagan vibe, Reclaiming has communities around the world that often often solstice rituals. To find a local Reclaiming community in your area, check out http://www.reclaiming.org/worldwide/index.html
Okay beautiful people, that’s all for now. I look forward to reconnecting with y’all-rested and radiant-very soon!