“As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

As we go about preparing for holiday festivities, we can easily slip into a planning frenzy when shopping, wrapping, shipping, cooking, travel, and entertainment distracts our attention from the present and depletes our radiance. Yet, the ancient origins of winter festivities are grounded in creating a bright spot to help people get through the darkness and scarcity of winter.

In Rome, the Saturnalia Festival was a time for families to relax, break with rules, and practice generosity – sharing gifts of candles and treats. In Scandinavia, Yule trees were burned to symbolize the life-giving sun and each spark was considered a good omen. In Persia, families gathered all night for the solstice festival of Shab-e Yalda to light candles and read poetry together to get through the longest night of the year.

Try incorporating these 3 practices to light up your loved ones with your presence this year:

I. Breathwork is a go-to for bringing ourselves to the present. A three-part breath is easy to practice seated on a plane, in a parked car before running an errand or entering a gathering, or at home before you jump headlong into your to-do list.

  1. Soften your eyes and place one hand on your heart, the other on your belly as you begin long slow inhales and exhales through your nose.
  2. On the inhale expand your belly like a balloon and continue inhaling to fill your rib cage and then chest.
  3. On the exhale release your breath from your chest, then your rib cage, and then draw your belly to your spine to fully exhale.
  4. Do this 5, 10, or even 20 times.

II. Be the light meditation. This is a great way to start your day or practice when you are transitioning from doing (chores, errands, or planning) to being (with people in the post office line, work’s white elephant party, or at a meal with friends or family).

  1. Sit in a chair or cross-legged on the floor.
  2. For this meditation, you will cup your hand at your heart and imagine you’re holding a lit pillared candle with a flame at about brow level.
  3. Close your eyes and envision the candle flame dancing before you for about 5 long slow breaths,
  4. Then, begin to imagine you are watching yourself meditate on the flame (as if you are watching a video of you meditating) for another 5 long breaths.

III. Wear a bell or jangling bracelets for the rest of the holiday season (or your life). With every jingle jangle you’ll subtly be reminding yourself to come to presence and announcing your joyful presence to others.