Adding some SOUL to the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us. For those living in the United States, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Christmas and New Year’s are peeking around the corner.

Many people use this time to gather with family and friends in celebration. But how do we really infuse these event with a true sense of meaning and spirit?

So I want to offer a few ideas for sharing an “attitude of gratitude” and cultivating deeper connections during the holidays. We think you’ll find that these soul-centering activities will bring more heart-filled joy to what can otherwise be a pretty hectic and stressful time of year.

Here are a few of my favorites:

1) Offer a favorite poem, quote or song
Ask each person to bring something meaningful to them. It could be a poem, a powerful quotation, or even a short story. If you have some musically-oriented guests, invite them to play a live song to really add some depth and meaning to your gathering – especially if folks can sing along! Share these talents after a meal to create a truly harmonious ambiance.

2) Share your gratitudes from the past year
We often make resolutions to kick off a new year, but how often do we take the time to reflect on all of our blessings along the way? Go around in a circle sharing your gratitude and those things that have brought you deep joy and a sense of meaning in the past year. Then take turns writing and reading notes that express gratitude for each other in the circle, as this has been shown to increase levels of energy, optimism and empathy. You can also write your blessings on paper “leaves,” and hang them by ribbons on branches in your yard.

3) Volunteer to serve the less fortunate
During Winter and holidays, the division between the “haves” and the “have-nots” appears greater. This is a great time to find an organization to volunteer with, and then continue supporting throughout the upcoming year. We’d also like to suggest that this can be special bonding experience if you gather a group of friends and family to participate – and you can make a bigger impact. Volunteering can be such a rewarding experience that it can be hard to tell who benefits from it the most!

4) Create your own Winter Solstice Ritual
December 21st, the Winter Solstice, is the shortest day of the year and has been celebrated by cultures around the world for more than 6,000 years. This is a powerful time to create your own rituals to honor the return of light. Start by setting an intention for the holidays and the rest of the season. You may want to come together to watch the sun set on this special day. Light candles together, blessed with wishes, and decorate your home with items from nature, such as rosemary (known as the “herb of the sun”) to create a truly magical ambiance. For those who want to go all out, consider creating a larger ritual for your family or community.

5) Meditate on an Image of Compassion
Finally, I also wanted to share with you this beautiful image featuring the inspirational lotus flower that grows and blooms out of mud. When you find yourself feeling mired in the muck – or faced with challenging family dynamics – please take some time to meditate on a serene picture. He’s one of my current favorites.  Click here to download a copy for your enjoyment.

May your holidays be  merry and bright, and overflowing with love and many blessings.