It’s Christmas holiday, last days of 2015. There is a gentle hush over the city. Winter solstice is like the end of a long exhalation, a moment of sacred planetary balance. The world breathes out into the rich, restorative darkness, light fading as the days dissolve faster. Though we can’t feel it yet, the earth begins a 6-mo in breath now, breathing in delicately longer days, ever more light.
The holidays bring images of bright, festive times and convivial belonging with loved ones. There’s a gravitational pull towards togetherness. This morning as I’m sitting in warm pajamas writing this, I hear the familiar voices of an InsightLA community member and her husband. They’re laughing outside my window, as they stop to sing a carol on their morning walk through the neighborhood.
But what about when you find yourself alone during the holidays? You may be in a cycle of life where there is estrangement from family or the ending of a relationship. I remember my first holiday season in Boston after my husband George and I broke up, so cold, lonesome and sad. I remember sitting in various friends’ houses feeling all alone amidst the holiday cheer, set apart in my heartbreak.
This is when we turn to our practice for support and strength to meet the instability and turbulence of life. And even if i couldn’t feel it all the time, I knew the deep, peaceful place of stability, where life blooms even in the midst of suffering, where we plumb the depths of our humanity and find some warmth and solace.
Human life is uncertain. Even when you’re cozily nestled in the heart of happy relationship, there can still be a strange longing, a sense of profound existential loneliness. This is what impels us to search for refuge, for a true sense of home. Meditation is a refuge, an invitation to come home, to breathe in the gift of aliveness, to breathe out the calm of a trusting heart.
This a gift of the Dharma, a recognition that the breath breathes you, that just being is enough. In that timeless, trustworthy breathing is a wholeness where loneliness and grief can peacefully co-exist with kindness and illumination.
I wish you all blessings, boundless compassion, and joy in each breath, appreciation of this moment.