Awakenings Wellness Center, Portland Oregon

Articles by our Therapists

Finding the Sacred in the Season

What can help us survive the holidays with our mental and physical health intact?

Posted 12/09/10 by Durga Fuller

Celebrate the HolyDays, rather than the holi-daze.

Let's remember what we're here for. The year is winding down into the dark times. Our bodies are asking for more sleep, warm food, cuddling with our loved ones. Can you feel it? As Mary Oliver puts it '... let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.'

Sometimes we can interpret that as certain types of food or other comforts, but what are these comforts representing? Often they are replacing more basic needs that we may have lost touch with. The need for touch. The need for story time with our community. The need for quiet and reverence. The need forĀ  intimacy. Not sex. Intimacy. The need to cry and laugh as a release for the tensions built up in this stressful world we live in.

The constant focus on food and drink at gatherings and giftings this time of year is natural. We break bread together.

Those of us who get sick when we eat bread need to find a different way of celebrating the Holy times with our communities. The rituals themselves are not important, rather the intention that they serve.

Love. Gratitude. Light. Inclusion. Warmth. Reverence. Gifting. Sharing. Reconnecting. Honoring endings. Celebrating beginnings.

Nowhere in there is food per se. The food was always just a means to an end. A breaking of bread as a metaphor for partaking of nourishment with loved ones. The real nourishment? Love. Gratitude. Light. Inclusion. Warmth. Reverence. Gifting. Sharing. Reconnecting. Honoring endings. Celebrating beginnings.

As you approach the various celebrations you choose to attend this season, ask yourself if they nourish you. If the answer is no, ask yourself what you could do to find the nourishment that is there for you? Where are the deeper threads of meaning in your community gatherings? Find those threads. Hold them gently and firmly.

If you find you are not attending celebrations, and feeling isolated, find a public celebration or two. Go. Be with people, and know you are human. We are tribal.

And when you are alone, which we all are from time to time, let yourself come to quiet. Allow the busy-ness to subside for awhile. Light a candle. Seek the deeper thrum of the chords of your life.

As these threads of meaning become more important in your world, the gluten, dairy, or desserts may become less important. See what it's like to keep your attention on connection with people and meaning, and let the food be an enjoyable after thought. Consciously and wisely approached.

Because I love it, I leave you with the whole poem.

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

~Mary Oliver


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