Turning on the inner light

18 Dec

We have entered the darkest time of the year, marked by the Solstice, speedily approaching. In the old days, without electricity, indoor plumbing and built-in heat, the dead of winter must have been hard not just on one’s physical body but also on one’s mental state. In my imagination, that’s when some of our ancestors created rituals of light to ignite the spirit of hope, celebrating the solstice as a turning point of the year and marking the rebirth of light. Christmas, Chanukah, Deva Divali and others all fall around this time in the northern hemisphere.

I grew up with plenty of magical moments that were a part of our December, and light played a significant role in them. There were the late Sunday afternoons sitting by candle light and sharing stories and treats. I remember that every Christmas eve there was a huge Christmas tree standing in the corner of the living room, lit with many candles and made extra magical with sparklers. Our Christmas tree inspired awe in us youngsters, each time it was ritually lit. I loved the sparklers and the old glass ornaments topped with a hint of frosting, and the figurative ornaments which sent me on imaginary journeys, the birds sitting on branches dreaming of long flights to the south, the little white angel with the snow-white hair, and the sleigh made from glass beads, ready to cross Siberia or go straight to the North Pole. Now, in my daily practice i try to tap into the joy and wonder i experienced on the Christmas eves of my childhood.

When we experience joy (or awe) we shine—our inner light shines through. I am sure that you have seen a friend’s or loved one’s face light up when they hear of something that brings them joy. The light generated through joy makes them shine. And here is a little secret: you too will shine when you learn to cultivate joy.

How can you make your light shine more?

If i have learned one thing in the many years of being a student, teacher and coach, it is this: What we focus on prevails. I have learned that in order to experience joy i must nurture the potential of happiness inside me. Today i want to share just three strategies on how to cultivate joy and begin to turn on your inner light.

1) Focus on the positive.

This sounds like a no-brainer but if you are used to finding potential problems in every situation—which is how our brains are programmed to protect ourselves from possible adversaries—you are facing an uphill battle. You are embarking to undo not just a life-time of habit but also millions of years of evolutionary coding. Nevertheless, taking into account the brain’s plasticity your chances are good. For the holidays i recommend this:

Create positive experiences:

  • Set the intention to do something uplifting for yourself, and possibly for others. Plan uplifting activities. Ask yourself these questions: What makes my spirit soar? What nurtures my soul? What brings a smile on my face? Who makes me feel relaxed and comfy? Who inspires me? Who makes me laugh? Plan a gathering with someone who makes you feel good.
  • Instead of being the devil’s advocate, play with being the advocate of the light. Find the positive where you would habitually complain and focus on the negative. Share with others that you are experimenting with taking a positive stand. Invite them to join you in the experiment.
  • Do something new. Set the intention to be open to new experiences. Try looking at the world through a child’s eyes.
  • Be willing to say no to experiences that pull you down.
  • Limit time with negative people. If you can’t avoid seeing them (because they are family, for example) let them know ahead of time what your plan is. Interrupt the day with a nature walk to reset you.

Sometimes, creating a positive experience can be as easy as smiling at someone. Try it!

2) Cultivate gratitude.

Connect with all the positive in your life and stop taking it for granted. Be grateful for all you are and all you have. No, it’s not silly. It is awesome that your body is serving you so well even if other bodies seem more perfect, and even if yours is aging or having other problems. It has been with you for so many years and done so much for you. Wow. It is a blessing that you have a roof over your head, with indoor plumbing and running water. It is wonderful that you … fill in the blanks. Try writing down a list of things, big and small, that you are grateful for every day. Want to read more about gratitude?  Click here.

3) Acknowledge yourself for all of your efforts.

Yes, that includes efforts that did not quite succeed. You did something—that’s awesome. Celebrate when you created a great experiences for yourself or someone else. Celebrate when you did something new or something that seemed difficult. Give yourself credit for all the little things that nurture you or others. You fed the cat, you walked the dog, you went for a walk, you made the phone call you were dreading. All these are things to acknowledge yourself for.

And with everything, the more you practice the easier it gets and the more you’ll notice that what may seem tedious at first works. Best of luck cultivating joy and turning on the inner light!

How can you make your light shine more?

Need help? Visit my coaching website and contact me for coaching.

© Eva Ruland, December 2016

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2 Responses to “Turning on the inner light”

  1. Trina December 24, 2016 at 10:14 pm #

    Beautiful article Eva! Love the images you describe and the POSITIVITY that truly “lights up” your writing. I’m smiling with you…

    • eva December 25, 2016 at 11:15 pm #

      thank you for reading, Trina. So glad you felt that my writing reflects and instills positivity. I am smiling your way. 🙂

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