Christmas as we know it, is a mishmash of traditions, combining ancient pagan and Christian rituals, symbolism, timing, meaning and stories. Like many spiritual, philosophical and cultural constructs, it is understandable that it has evolved and morphed in this way over time. But this doesn’t diminish it’s most central significance and the meaning that it has for us. In the darkest and shortest days of the year, there is the search and need for light,warmth and hope.
Light in both practical and symbolic terms is a fundamental aspect of yoga, the self, consciousness, purusha is described and conceived as a tiny point of light. Not dissimilar to the oft used image of the candle flame at Christmas time.
” Like a tiny flame without smoke, the size of a thumb, is the self, the seer of the past and future, the same both today and tomorrow” Katha Upanishad.
In the 8 limbs of Yoga, in Patanjali’s Yoga sutras, the 5th limb, Pratyahara turns our attention inwards from the external, so it may move towards the self. In many respects, this season of winter and especially the holiday period allows us to do something similar, a hopeful cessation in work and activity, may allows us to withdraw from the usual interactions and concerns with the external world. As we retreat into the quiet of our homes, as the pace of life slows down, in the company of friends and family, perhaps finding this same light, this same self that resides in us, that resides in all.
Wishing you a very happy, peaceful and light filled Christmas.