I love Christmas!
I love everything about it, especially the way it draws me into “the sacrament of the present moment” with one giant, swirling sensory swoosh!
I love the bright beauty of the festive lights as they warm, wink, and whisper cheer into an otherwise cold and bleak Saskatchewan December night…
I love the sounds, smells, and tastes of Christmas — the carols I learned to sing even before I learned to speak, the scent of pine, and those mouth-watering, once-a-year cultural delectables shared with family and friends…
And I love the ritual of touching hearts through gift-giving and being witness to a general societal softening and coming together in a spirit of generosity, giving added attention to those who are in most need of our gifts…
I love all these things. But not everyone, I know, shares my sentiments. “Christmas” some say, is “too commercial”. “Too stressful”. “Too much hustle and bustle”.
It CAN be. Can’t argue that.
And I’m pretty sure I, myself, would be adding my own voice to those very objections to Christmas were it not for “The Fast”… that s-l-o-w-s me down!
In certain Christian traditions, the Christmas season is preceded by the less widely observed season of Advent, a time of preparation for body and soul. A time of fasting and prayer.
For example, in the Orthodox tradition, in the weeks leading up to the Feast of the Nativity, the “fasting rules” call for strict abstinence of meat and dairy foods, with limited allowance of fish, oil, and wine.
While most of us could probably benefit by putting these guidelines into practice, I remind myself that they were designed by monks primarily for monks at a time when the world was a much different place. Today, those relatively wholesome food restrictions since that first millennium are the least of our problems, I’d say. We don’t need to go anywhere near there to come up with ways to help our bodies cleanse and, in the process, begin to purify our senses to receive the gifts offered by this happy and ho-ho-ho-ly Holiday Season.
I’ll be integrating the following three strategies into my Fast (and Slow) from now until Christmas. Care to join me?
Junk food. What does that even mean, anyway!!! Food, by definition, implies that which nourishes our bodies and supports our health. Junk “food”, as one of my smart colleagues has pointed out, does none of that so shouldn’t even be called food in the first place! Oxymoron it is.
Ditching the Standard American Diet (SAD) just might be a good jumping off point for getting ourselves “ready for Christmas” from the inside. If it comes in a box, it probably isn’t food — in the true sense of the term. If it contains processed sugar, flour or fat, it probably isn’t food. If it contained additives, artificial flavors or colors, it most certainly isn’t food! Fasting, doesn’t mean fast food! McSomethings or other and Fill–in-the-blank-chinos and their counterparts corrupt our taste buds, destroy our bodies’ wellbeing, dull our senses, weaken our minds, mess with our moods – and drag our spirits down with them.
Think: real…whole…simple… natural… living food. Life begets life.
Let’s face it: The news we hear and see, now in such graphic detail, is rarely good news. It helps neither the subjects of the news items nor us to expose ourselves to its constant negativity on a daily basis.
Andrew Weil first introduced me to the concept of the “news fast”. For even one day – or, if you dare, for the next thirty days – consider disconnecting yourself from the bad news that feeds fear, anxiety, anger, despair and other negative states. Try it. No newspaper or magazine. No radio or T.V. No online peeking. And at the end of the day, we can still all say a silent prayer for the world’s troubles… which will still be there tomorrow.
Computer…laptop… IPhone… IPad… Internet… Facebook… Twitter…Instagram… Pinterest… Now, these are things Abba Zosima never had to worry about!
Our level of exposure to electromagnetic waves is a very real, albeit invisible, danger which, according to renowned cardiologist Dr. Stephen T. Sinatra, is damaging our mitochondria, the energy centers of the cells of our bodies. To get a sense of just what kind of trouble this stirs up, think of your mitochondria as your cells’ furnaces. Now imagine what would happen if the furnace in your home went kaput! Get the point?
How long can you go without touching your cell phone? Without checking your emails… or Facebook? If you’re up for a challenge, try to double that time.
How long ago has it been since you’ve sat with the person next to you without allowing the moment to be contaminated or stolen by a two by four inch rectangular piece of mostly plastic?
Brendon Burchard, author of The Motivation Manifesto, summarizes , “Our brain was not built for this frenzy, forced to focus on everything yet nothing, sped up and buzzed out by syrups and stimulants, crammed with so much random negative information and so many pointless tasks that there is never a singular focal point to immerse in or achieve or celebrate.”
Now is a good time to step back. Take a deep breath. A long, slow, deep breath! Allow for stillness and silence to surface and give space to whatever goodness lies waiting to be born within us.
And prepare to celebrate with joy!
Live well...stay well,