I hate how suddenly and abruptly the holiday season ends. There’s the slow wind-up starting around Halloween, Thanksgiving kicks off the Christmas shopping, it builds to fever pitch on Christmas Eve, the main event occurs for one day, and then crashes to an end so fast it could cause whip lash. December 25: Deck the Halls, Fa La La La La, tear the wrapping, eat all the food, try not to be dysfunctional with the family. (not my family, of course, but I’ve heard its this way for some) 🙂 December 26: No more Christmas music, the stores are urging you to come buy the stuff you Really want because you certainly didn’t get it yesterday, leftovers, back to work, alarms, lists, due dates, and maybe thankfully you’ve checked the spend-time-with-the-family box for a couple more months.
While I have to also get back to work and juggle the studio and home while refereeing the kids because they are home and bored and how better to entertain than to pick on each other?! I’ve chosen to use this week as space between. Not doing nothing space–instead, finding simple rituals which will help prepare for what is next. The same frustration that comes with Christmas ending exists with the New Year beginning. TODAY, January 1, I’m going to start a new lifestyle! Maybe that works for some but the likelihood for success over the long haul is low. In Sanskrit, the word for practice is abhyasa. Abhyasa is doing the work. Setting action to the intention. Abhyasa’s twin spiritual practice is vairagya, or renunciation. For true transformation, you can’t have one without the other. Rolf Gates writes, “Practice without renunciation is avoidance. Renunciation without practice is not long-lived.” You may have seen my experimenting with this theory last week on Facebook and Instagram. I can’t renounce spiderwebs without an action to clear them out. I can’t renounce sugar and grain and Christmas cookies without the action of finding healthy alternatives. (I’m still working on not eating those cookies! It is practice) I can’t renounce make-up without the practice of feeling vulnerable and being seen without hiding anything. I can renounce make-up with my words all I want, but if I’m still applying more and more in order to feel comfortable in my own skin I’m avoiding vulnerability. And if I don’t wear it and hide in my home in order to not be seen, it won’t be long-lived.
None of these rituals I played with this week will be forever, but taking this week after Christmas, before the New Year, seems a natural time of transition and preparation. Although I’m currently sitting in a living room that looks exactly the same as it did in the aftermath of Christmas morning, I’m also beginning to practice new rituals for the new year. Both/and, not determined by the calendar. Instead of setting a New Year’s resolution, I’m setting a renunciation paired with practice. I hate mornings. But a ritual to start the day lays a foundation that sleeping in can’t. So I’m renouncing sleeping in for the practice of reading, writing, breathing or moving. And there it is in black and white. Also abhyasa—putting it out there as a commitment to change. To be held accountable when the alarm is buzzing and the warm covers lay it on thick to stay in bed.
May your New Year be Christmas spirit sprinkled in with a healthy dose of abhyasa and vairagya. As you travel along the journey to your best version of your best self, may you experience transformation, not determined by a date, but with intention and doing the work to make all your dreams possible.