For the first time in my forty years, I spent this past Christmas alone. It was somewhat unplanned. I didn't expect to break up with my boyfriend on Christmas Eve. But deep in my heart, I did have a longing to not be social. To not have to dabble in all the trappings of ribbons, wrapping paper and coma inducing food - all in the name of spiritual salvation. Be careful what you wish for.
I must say it was the most glorious holiday I've ever had. I spent the day exactly how I thought Christmas should be celebrated - by meditating on the Divine both on my mat and out in nature. Feeling fortunate for every invigorating inhale and releasing exhale. Contemplating what my life has meant up to this point and what I would like it to mean going forward.
Time alone to self-reflect is key to any personal growth and development process. You can read a stack of self-help books nodding in agreement as the author affirms every habit, characteristic, and unsatisfying pattern you perpetuate, screaming, "YES!!! That's me!" But until you're willing to sit in silence with yourself and really look at the good, the bad, and the ugly, you'll never understand why those self-defeating patterns consistently arise, or be able to hear the innate wisdom only you can offer that will direct you how to move forward and change.
Silence gives us time to process. It give us time for emotions around the wound or thought pattern that creates the very behavior we want to change to arise and pass. The more you can sit with yourself to acknowledge and experience the emotions that come up - sadness, anger, hurt, resentment, fear, abandonment, loneliness, etc. - the quicker you'll be able to move on and overcome the very obstacles blocking you from having what you want and living the life you desire.
Time by yourself is also a great time to clean up messes in your home or in your relationships. I did a job on my apartment, not only cleaning, but discarding objects and clothing I no longer needed or used. Things that reminded me of the past - potentially preventing me from moving forward. I'm not saying you have to purge every memory from sight. Photos and memorabilia can be a wonderful way to recall joy or love we've felt or conversely, serve to remind us of past mistakes we'd rather not repeat. Assess if those things (or people) you're hanging on to will assist you in healing and moving forward or hinder your progress.
Quietude can be a glorious time to reflect on all the good in our lives. As I walked around the lake here in Austin, the sun shining on my face and wind just chilly enough to cause little goosebumps on my arm, I watched families play, couples run together, swans bathe themselves and felt truly blessed to be a witness to others' joy as well as my own.
For me, Christmas day was the beginning of a year, and hopefully a lifetime, of taking care of myself. I can say "no" to events, relationships and engagements I'd rather not pursue, and I can say "yes" to things I've been denying or ignoring for years. I understand we all have commitments to honor. But if you really want to make some changes in your life in the New Year, don't be afraid to cut out the "unnecessary" commitments - social engagements, Facebook, television, friend and family drama - all the ones that distract you from silence and self-reflection.
For it is only in sweet silence that we can uncover what we truly need to pursue to fulfill our goals and if our intentions are worth pursuing in the first place.