This time of year is known as the “Holiday Season,” especially in politically correct Seattle where I learned quickly to say “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Solstice” on December 21st.
In these times of wonderfully mindful recognition of diversity we honor the many types of holidays this time of year holds – Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Christmas, and New Year’s.
What we find in most holidays this time of year is the theme of light. It is a time of darkness in the natural world – short days and long nights. There is great power in this veil thrown over more of each daily cycle. It connects us to deeper layers of our subconscious and often leads to great introspection and creativity. And it calls into greater relief its counterpart – illumination.
Throughout history, humankind has drawn inspiration from the amazing power of light and brought it into their Winter Celebrations. And whether we are bowing to the light of the Sun, the flickering glow of a candle, or the sparkle of Christmas lights, we all have what is called jyotismati, or inner light, which Patanjali, in Yoga Sutra I.26, says is free from grief or sorrow (visoka).
This Sutra is one of several in the first Pada (Chapter) of the Yoga Sutras that offer the practitioner suggestions for bringing about the state of yoga that is described in Sutra I.2 as citta vrtti nirodha, the reduction (cessation in some translations) of the fluctuations of the mind. If we concentrate on this inner light, our mind will be calmer, more at peace.
This season of lights, may you draw from all of the sources of inspiration and illumination within and without to send out a beacon of serenity to the world around you, a true gift to self and others.
May your Holidays be bright and full of love.
Posted by: Anne Phyfe Palmer
Listen to this sutra and a meditation on inner light on the Yoga Journal website.