By Gedalia Genin | firstname.lastname@example.org
Imagine being without power for a day or two or even a week.
Those who live on the coast may have had this experience during hurricane season. It’s not fun to wait and wonder when the lights will come back on or when you might have your next shower. Those who have lived this know what I’m talking about.
Now imagine yourself at the resurrection of the Temple defiled by the Greeks, back when Antiochus IV was in control. He massacred Jews and prohibited the practice of Judaism.
A revolution began against him, led by the Maccabees. The revolution succeeded, and the Temple was rededicated.
Oil was needed for the menorah to burn brightly. There was enough oil for only one day, but miraculously it burned for eight days. Now we commemorate this miracle by celebrating the holiday of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights.
Two very different experiences are exemplified here: one of feeling victimized and the other of an unseen protection. Not sure in the first scenario, they made a holiday out of it when the lights came on.
How can we bring that sense of wonder, light and the presence of miracles to our holiday season amid the busyness of parties, vacations, gift shopping, traffic, and even past and present grief and loss?
For many of us, the stress of the holiday season can override the essential meaning.
Here are a few holistic tips, most of which require a little time out:
- Keep an aromatherapy diffuser in your home, preferably one that has a cool mist. Heating oils can destroy the therapeutic value (for example, scented candles and electric devices).
Try oils such as eucalyptus, lavender, orange oil, cedarwood, ginger and lemongrass. Experiment with ones you like.
Essential oils affect mood and emotions and purify your environment. You may use them intentionally and symbolically. Maybe the oil will last longer than you anticipated.
- Every day, take a few minutes for some deep breathing and becoming present. Notice when you’ve reached your limit. You may feel tired, overwhelmed or even let out the “hah” sound. Those are signals to hit the pause button.
You can do this anywhere (except while driving). Simply fill your belly with air like a balloon (pushing the belly out) on the inhale, and exhale to the count of four. Ten repetitions can allow you to become present at any time during your day.
A yogic principle tells us that when the breath slows down, the mind slows down. We tend to rev up the mind in our modern lives with the Internet, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram. That’s a lot to process all at once.
Attempt the opposite by slowing down with intention. Use your awareness to make this a daily practice.
- Look for the miracles of life before you every day, such as waking up to the beat of your heart, watching the sunrise or sitting under the moonlight. Spend those moments in gratitude for “what is,” as opposed to what to get.
- Be open, kind and generous when you can, even though others might be hasty.
- Prioritize your time with those who bring you joy and lightheartedness.
- Speak with a friend or healer to share your personal story. It’s OK to have both the positive and what you may call the “darker emotions” present simultaneously.
- Bring some laughter into your day by not trying to make everything perfect. The “trying to be perfect” woman causes unnecessary stress and anxiety. The people you’ve invited want to be with you, not to feel tense from a frazzled hostess. Delegate when you can, ask for help and use local places to help you fill in the meals.
Chanukah teaches us the principle that from the miracle itself the Jews went from darkness to light. The holidays are time of joy, light, love and generosity. So remember the miracles, remember the reasons you are here: to give love and share love.