What Happened to the Spirit of Christmas?
Do you remember as recently as two decades ago how magical the holidays felt? I remember feeling the energy in the air. It wafted everywhere, in the streets, among people, even in stores. I called it ‘The Spirit of Christmas.’ Over the past many years, as we have become more progress and material-centric, that magical feeling, that ‘spirit’, has dissipated. Unless we make a conscious effort to incorporate it, it eludes us. Even then, it does not feel the way it used to. The superficial feeling of the collective container feels out of alignment with the sacred energy we once cherished during the holiday season.
What happened to the ‘spirit’ of Christmas?
As a physician, I have seen tens of thousands of people who have become sick due to the loss of meaning in their lives. Illness is merely a symbolic expression of the lack of this precise meaning. We have rejected the symbolic language of our body and replaced it with terms used mostly for war. We say ‘our body betrays us,’ but our body never relates to us through betrayal. Our body only delivers us a precise message through symptoms. Our work is to understand the meaning behind these messages. If we lack symbolic language, we fail to capture the meaning and are left with merely our current language of fixing and war orientation. This is very common in healthcare today.
The body is wise. It carries within it the ability to heal. This can be evoked when we seek to understand the meaning beneath our symptoms. I call this our ‘healing code’. Fixing symptoms is not the same as healing them. With symbolic language, we can understand the precise causes underneath our symptoms, and our probability of physical healing increases. In addition, life grows richer and more meaningful. This perspective requires consciousness. I seek this level of depth in all aspects of my life. I call it the ‘spirit’ of my experience. It has offered me healing, resilience, and assistance in widening the context of my experience of life, even in times of great suffering.
Over the past few decades, our society has moved further away from the path of meaning than ever before. Meaning is elusive and can only be accessed through intent. It is at the heart of the Feminine Principle, what Jung described (1) as the ‘Self’, the Soul or the ‘being’ state in both men and women. This is where our feelings lie. Feelings are connectors to the Soul. The ego and the rational mind are in the realm of the Masculine Principle. It focuses on ‘doing’. Our state of being must be balanced by ‘doing’ for us to feel whole. While living this way, we are both productive and creative. Resilience is a by-product of this balance. In this place of balance, both product and process are honored and valued.
Our society has assigned a disproportionate amount of value to money. Money is a by-product of efficiency. Corporations look for ways to short-circuit processes for efficiency, in order to generate profit. Today, a corporation’s success is only measured by its degree of profit. People are seen merely as commodities for this agenda. Their process is ignored. They are deceived into aligning with these values that violate their own. This destroys their sense of meaning. The corporations of Healthcare and Education are no exceptions to this way of functioning. Physicians, patients, teachers, and students are sacrificed in the name of efficiency. The main goal of these corporations is the product. It is a mistaken assignment of value. When a process is short-circuited, the spirit of a vocation is cut off. We have all felt this. This is the root of work stress. This is where creativity no longer flows, and the sacred begins to die. This is also at the root of most of our illnesses today. It is where the Feminine Principle has been sacrificed. Our bodies simply inform us of this through our symptoms. We are the ones betraying it, not the other way around, as we have been led to believe.
The spirit of Christmas is no different. Our feelings affect the collective. When we align with corporate values of materialism we cut ourselves off from the spirit of the season. We lose sight of what Christmas means. The sacred is replaced with the mundane and profane. Economy replaces community, materialism replaces feeling.
We must remember the meaning of the holiday season. We must align with what is sacred. My husband and I recently decided to gift each other with experiences rather than stuff. We are no longer wrapping presents, using the holidays to support the economy, or align with the stream of efficiency and product orientation. Our time is spent connecting with what is sacred – simplifying, minimizing, cooking, being, walking in nature, greeting the sunrise, practicing self-care. The Feminine is slow and deep. It restores our feeling of connection and comfort, health, and balance. We have decided to celebrate Christmas in a way that connects us with ancient wisdom (2) that our ancestors honored for over 25,000 years. The spirit of the ‘birth of the sun’ which is a metaphor for self-realization, enlightenment, and consciousness, is what this holiday is truly about. Cultivating the sacred essence of this time is more important to us than any materialism that accompanies it. This is a time for reflection, for taking inner inventory, for purification, and a re-commitment to continued consciousness.
I invite you to reflect on the meaning of this holiday season and to dive deep into the sacred essence of it. How can you participate in reviving the spirit of Christmas without getting caught up in efficiency or productivity at the cost of Soul/Self? How can you reconnect to the Feminine values of sacredness and being, community and connection, commitment to the process, and more conscious life?
Maybe this Christmas can be a new beginning, a new tradition for us; one of renewal of our true values that are sacred and align us with our true nature, not product-oriented corporations. Maybe together we can breathe new life into this season and awaken its sacred spirit, by honoring the Sacred Feminine. Maybe this can be the beginning of spiritual renewal, a connection to the commitment and endurance required for transformation, and a revival of the importance of community.
May you have a sacred Holiday.
©Dec 2017 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. Website: www.ommanicenter.com Author of Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife. 2011, 2014 Medial Press