Saturday, December 24, 2016

Let Go and Be the Soul of It All!



Let Go and Be the Soul of It All!

Catherine Cook-Cottone
The Yoga Bag


The holidays are like ringing bells.

They ring from this present moment, out into the snow, the rain, even the sunshine- depending on where you are. The bells of the holidays also ring foreword and backward into the holidays-yet-to-be and from holidays-past. In this way, the present moment, in its essence, is all places and all times.

A beautiful thought.

In this truth, the holiday bells ring in the memories of all of those we have lost. They are still here; in cookie recipes, songs, traditions, family stories, and memories. I think it is for these reasons that the holidays can be difficult, even triggering for some.

I know for me, it is the first Christmas that I will not be with my family. With the death of my mom in 2015, things have changed. Our home in Lyons Falls is no longer our gathering place, making it hard, even impossible for us all to gather. I find that each song, each baking of a cookie, each flicker of a light from the Christmas tree makes my heart happy and ache in equal measure.

Heartfelt aches, ugh, they hurt deeply. It takes presence, work, and intention to feel and process it all.

In the past few days, within the context of the abundance of love and kindness all around, I have seen and heard stories of people – well - being sort of mean to other people. 

I have a mantra I save for those moments, “hurt (or hurting) people, hurt people.” I use this mantra to bring the compassion to my heart, to steady the moment, and to be the change I want to see in the world (and I thank my yoga practice everyday for making it possible for me to actually pull that off more times than not). Sometimes I wish we could all visually see the pain in each of our hearts so we could understand the why’s. For some, the hurting can be so big that we want those holiday bells- that tug at our hearts- to just stop, “Shhhhhhh, it hurts.”

For some, in the overwhelm- we snap, we push others away, and we hurt people who we don’t know. We even hurt people we love. I know, Lord knows, this work of life is not easy. Most certainly it is not as easy as the holiday songs make it seem.

I was running with my friends this morning- after a wonderful yoga class. We reflected on what might be a worry or hard over the next few days (Thanks Michelle). We acknowledged the possibilities. Then, we each described how we wanted to fill the space of the holidays (the stuff you can actually control). We described our heartfelt intentions. We chose how we might ring this year’s holiday bells.

I remembered Rumi.

 “Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place.”

Even thought I miss my mom and my family, even though my heart literally aches to not see my brother Stephen and the rest of my family this holiday season, I can be the soul of this place—right where I stand.

I can light candles; bake cookies; cuddle; smush my nose into our dog snowball's fur and remind him how much I love him; tell Chloe, Maya, and Jerry how much I love them (way too many times); and stop to facetime my family and pause to talk to mom- cause I know if there is anyway she could stop by for a visit with any one of us, she will.

With that, the echoes of ringing bells from 2016, when they are heard decades from now, will be bells filled with the sounds and memories of presence, love, and peace—because I chose to be the soul of that place.

With much holiday love,

Catherine
The Yoga Bag






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