For whatever reason, I love beginning new rituals and practices on Christmas Day. I don’t know why, but on Christmas, I love to get up early, meditate, pray, have a great meal and go the extra mile on my regular routine and start new routines that have been vying for my attention.
Last year, I got up early and went on a long run to bring in my favorite holiday. My route was not my norm and I headed up Atlantic Avenue into North Long Beach. As I crossed over San Antonio Avenue, a glossy printed card lying up ahead glinted in the sunlight and caught my eye. I was tempted to run past it as I intuitively picked up on a Jehovah’s Witness theme but something called me to stop and check out what was there. Sure enough, on one side was written a lot of information about ‘being saved’ and other imperatives. But when I turned it over, there was a picture of Jesus Christ emerging from his sepulchre; a look of casual confidence on his face and a simple white gown and robe adorning his body. I thought to myself, Self, this is so freaking cool! A message from Christ on his celebrated day! That card was placed on my altar and has spoken to me on numerous occasions throughout the year. The arrival of the card heralded my explorations into Christ, not as a man, but Christ as a consciousness, a way of thinking; a way of being. The Christ Consciousness, I have learned this year, is about embodying all that Source has to offer. It is about expanding my narrow way of seeing things into a more Universal way of seeing things that allows for unlimited creativity, unlimited possibilities, unlimited healing, unlimited love, unlimited compassion.
This year, I awoke with that same feeling of newness and I felt a strong sense to take excellent care of myself. Since my mom’s diagnosis with cancer 1 1/2 years ago, I’ve been disconnecting from my physical body. I have felt like my vessel was being neglected and that the love which had been growing on the inside was not being shared with the outside. I’ve not been caring for my skin or hair; my diet has gone to the dogs; I’ve ceased exercising. Since Mom passed on November 12, 2013, I’ve been aware of the disconnection, but loathe to do anything about it. My feeble attempts at dolling up myself over the last month were met with a lack of know-how and a lack of patience. I had forgotten how to take care of myself and I felt irritated at having to relearn. Feelings of inferiority, masculinity and alienation began to surface as I tried to master my physical appearance, but failed. But this Christmas morning was different. This morning, I awoke with a sense of clarity and motivation that had been missing before.
I got out of bed, fed Bastet, cleaned the apartment and then grabbed all my beauty products and headed to the bathroom to scrub away the old skin, shed the old hair and moisturize myself from head to toe. Taking the time to deep condition my hair while I scrubbed and masked my face made me feel feminine, vibrant, young and connected. For those moments, I didn’t feel like an outsider or a stranger to womanhood, which is exactly what I’ve been experiencing these last several months. While I nurtured my physical body, I began to feel alive. My body renewed and a semblance of connection returned to me, I looked in the mirror and liked what I saw. As I write this, I’m thinking wow, these are such basic steps that used to be common to my daily routine. I would indulge my physical body for at least an hour every day– not to mention the time spent running, preparing healthy meals and time at the spa! But anyone who goes through depression or anxiety knows that the basics can slip away from you like water through a sieve. What was once normal can become foreign, difficult, painful and even insurmountable. The grip of my sadness during this time was so intense that I would go days without even looking in the mirror and when I finally would, I would see a woman who was dried up, old and unrecognizable.
Interestingly, my interaction with myself during this period was mixed. There were times when I was indifferent, feeling nothing, ignoring any emotions that were at play in my system. And there were times when I was angry, desperate, sad and terribly frightened to see myself so… so dry; lifeless and anemic. But mostly, I was compassionate with myself. I allowed myself to be indifferent and angry and to be so without judgment. I allowed myself to sit for hours watching television, not budging from the couch. I allowed myself to eat mountains of cookies and other sugary treats by the pound without condemnation. I allowed myself to do exactly what I felt like doing and when the feelings of guilt and anxiety arose, I let them– all while holding space for them to dissipate when they had run their course. I kept in mind during this time, that I am God having a human experience. So with that, I would soften my defenses and my attempts to hold it all together so that I could let God experience what it feels like to eat a whole box of cookies washed down with a demi-bottle of wine. I would allow myself to let God experience what it feels like to witness expanding from a size 0 to a size 2 to a size 4 without judging it as good or bad, and without beating myself up for being undisciplined and set-back. This is the same compassion that, last night on Christmas Eve, allowed me to watch 4 hours of Breaking Bad without negative judgment instead of doing something “more in alignment” with the Christ Consciousness. What I gave myself during this time was mostly self compassion and although it was frightening sometimes, it has become my favorite practice.
As I sit here in the afterglow of my return to care, I realize that Christmas has a special meaning for me. Christmas is a time for opening my eyes to new possibilities and accepting surprise gifts from the Universe. The gifts are simple– a card, a shower; but the timing is exquisite– just what I needed when I needed it. The day here in Montreal is sunny and bright. The snow gleams off the rooftops. I look forward to a special Christmas polenta that I will be preparing for my supper and if I feel like it, I am going to walk across the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, which is 1.7 miles long. These simple gifts that Christmas brings are valuable such that I carry them naturally into the new year. As I walked into 2013 with my hand in Christ’s, I walk into 2014 nurturing myself with compassion and care; holding my own hand as one committed to loving herself wholly. Wishing you a merry Christmas filled with love for your Self and a big warm hug from the Christ Consciousness.