You do not need to be stressed about the holidays. No, really, you don’t, but just saying that isn’t going to stop it. This blog gives five spiritual techniques to break down and transform the stress of the holidays. Last blog post, I focused on using food as talismans to bring about peace and tranquility. Hidden in that longer blog were many magical hints and practical magical lessons.
Take Breaks When You Can
Unfortunately, most families will not just “let” you just get up and stretch to go outside (unless you are a smoker). I think many of us have the experience that family will barrage you with micro (or not so micro) aggressions if you do not comport to the implicit expectations and obligations of behaviors demanded of you. Realize two things. First, yes, some family members are trying to get under your skin. Second, you can control your reactions.
If you thought about it and have any contentious relationships in your family, interacting with family can be closer to work, especially in our post civility world. We would not work for 5 -6 hours with no breaks. Going to the bathroom is always fair game and no one will stop you. If anyone complains about the bathroom trips, you can just blame it on the booze and the coffee.
When you are in the bathroom, perform a banishing or centering. Any banishing or centering you know well can work. I will perform an astral version of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and do so in my astral temple. In Hands On Chaos Magic, I give an example of using “excretory magic” using all five of your senses to know the stress and negativity expelling from your body during the biological “bathrooming act”. Really the technique is simple, do the thing and as it’s happening just focus on the negativity draining as you do the thing. By “the thing”, I am sure you know what I mean. This technique is funny, but it is very effective.
Give Yourself More Time
When you are shopping or running errands, say at Target, take the time to have that mocha and build the time into your errand running for self-care. A simple method I use for errand running. Estimate the time in the holidays for running errands, double it and then use that extra time for “Me time” (either just sipping a cappuccino or sitting with a cappuccino and doing some sort of astral meditation/centering). For some of us, the crowds and their stress have a very negative effect. Remember to take care of yourself.
Reading that, I know some of you would say no no, I can’t. Repeat after me, I am worth it. Just keep repeating that for a while, then give yourself the time.
Practice Gratitude of Some Sort
Gratitude practice is really all the rage in many new age circles. On the simplest side of things, gratitude practice could be just making sure to thank anyone and everyone that we have been directly or indirectly helped by (which is very effective). In the west, many pressures form around the holidays to spend more money (perhaps more then we have), to compare ourselves with others (and judge ourselves), and meet so many obligations.
For me, I want to give my kids what they want, but that appetite is sometimes insatiable. These obligations invite comparisons because it looks like other people are able to handle all of them easily. I can guarantee no one is meeting those obligations psychically unscathed, but the illusion is that we make everything work. Gratitude practice does bring in some Buddhist ideas into our daily practice, but allows us to instead focus on right now, and what is good right now in this moment. Here is one fast technique that can help.
This is borrowed, yet modified from Vajragupta’’s book, Buddhism: Tools for Living Your Life.
- Settle yourself in a relaxed posture. Take a few deep, calming breaths to relax and center. Let your awareness move to your immediate environment: all the things you can smell, taste, touch, see, hear. Say to yourself: “For this, I am grateful.”
- Next, bring to mind those people in your life to whom you are close: your friends, family, partner…. Say to yourself, “For this, I am grateful.”
- Next, turn your attention onto yourself: you are a unique individual, blessed with imagination, the ability to communicate, to learn from the past and plan for the future, to overcome any pain you may be experiencing. Say to yourself: “For this, I am grateful.”
Finally, rest into the realization that life is a precious gift. That you have been born into a period of immense prosperity, that you have the gift of health, culture and access to spiritual teachings. Say to yourself: “For this, I am grateful.”
Novelty Can Help
Going along with the gratitude, inserting just a bit of novelty into our lives can greatly break stress and bring happiness. In my Shapeshifting Course, I talk about the need to shapeshift our routines to help cause neuro-plasticity to help break our own bad patterns. It turns out, our happiness also tends to lessen over time if we do the same actions or things that used to bring us happiness over and over. Psychology calls this hedonic adaptation. We simply have a neural mechanism to automate and stop paying attention to routine things and that means that the routine things that used to make us happy, stop doing so. In my Shapeshifting Course, I talk about how this can affect your magic as well.
Fortunately, small changes really can change this effect. Do you usually get your coffee with cream and use this as a break? Add cinnamon or another flavor you enjoy. Do you usually use a Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram to banish negativity and find that it’s not really working as well anymore? Try some Chakra balancing. Work getting in the doldrums? Change the physical routine and order in which you do tasks. Holiday rituals getting super stressful? Change the normal menu or add a single thing to the menu.
Little or even one change to any routine can transform the routine allowing some of the happiness to return. As the Chinese say, “A single joy, dispels a thousand miseries.”
Connect to Your Spirits
I carry a mala (it is like a rosary) with me all the time as well as a few talismans for the Lwa (being a Vodou priest and all). You might think I do this for protection or benefits, and that is partially true, but is much more than that. Taking these items are physical reminders that I have many friends in the spiritual sense. If you do magic and have these connections, remind yourself of them. Life (as we live it here in the US) tends to distract you until you forget.
I tend to connect to my “spiritual friends network” in my breaks, either in mantra work or mediation. Even if you cannot get to a formal alter while traveling, you can work with these spirits through things you have linked to the spirit. If it is small and was on your altar for a period of time, you can bet it has the right resonance. If you want to get into the mechanics of how to do this, Hands On Chaos Magic details this more thoroughly.
Even if you are able to do one of the 5 things, I promise you will see an improvement in your mood throughout the holidays and really let you experience the holidays in a more joyous fashion, despite any distractions which might give you a momentary stress hiccup.
Regardless of what you celebrate, Happy Holidays to you and yours!