"The joy of Christmas" is a much used tagline perhaps started to describe this time of year with some depth and meaning but is most often used now as an advertising hook to encourage more buying. For many, Christmas is a happy time - family, fairy lights and food - which do provide a sense of joy but this can fade after all is unwrapped and consumed and we head back to our daily tasks.
I strolled around the block earlier this week to check out a house one street away that every year produces an epic display of twinkling extravagance and this year was no exception. It got me thinking because in the light of day this house doesn't have a lot of sparkle and I would not tend to describe its residents as joyful. It made me wonder what life would be like for them, in fact all of us, if we put as much effort into cultivating our inner light as we do on the external, flashing veneer of joy we cover our houses in for a month each year. I'm not saying ditch the fairy lights (I LOVE them) but rather calling us to consider whether our attention is more focused on external "lights" than the internal one. As a result of my musings I've remembered some practices to help us cultivate light and joy on a daily basis - long after the fairy lights are packed away!
Here are 5 ways to strengthen the light within for 2016:
1) Experience the divine in everything. Nischala Joy Devi calls us to focus on a simple repetitive chore such as making the bed (or washing up or hanging out the washing) and ask ourselves how this can be made into a spiritual practice. Perhaps by savouring the smooth feel of fresh sheets, the warmth and comfort of the water and bubbles in the sink or the smell of clean clothes....it's a matter of bringing full sense awareness to every daily task and performing it mindfully.
2) Take note of what saps your joy and positive energy - make a decision not to do / eat / drink / listen / watch / engage with these.
3) Connect with nature regularly - observe the natural display of lights available every night. Spend some time gazing at the moon or doing some meditation beneath the stars.
4) Find time for the things that make you feel happy to be alive (e.g for me: yoga, meditation and surfing!!). Don't just do them in the holidays.
5) Experience your breath and moments of stillness throughout each day (after yoga practice is a great time) so that you can become a witness to your unchanging, true nature which IS joy - a fact that we've forgotten.
I hope these practices give you inspiration for strengthening your inner light in 2016 to make it your brightest yet!