My sister carried three tins full of baked goods to our table on Christmas night. Our stockings were hung by the fireplace. Gifts were wrapped and finished with bows. My parents had scurried about hanging Christmas decorations and trimming the tree.
There was a star set on top and each branch was carefully wrapped with lights spaced perfectly to set the entire tree aglow on one condition – that they are plugged into the power source. Oh, how ordinary and essential this invention of Thomas Edison’s has become in our lives and what a fitting metaphor it provides for me during the Christmas holidays and for each day as we reach into a new year.
Lights must be plugged in order to shine.
Whether you’re Catholic or Buddhist, Hindu or Jew, a Jain or a follower of the Course in Miracles, the notion of plugging into something much greater than ourselves and a regular practice of taking time to sit in the lap of the universe is at the core of both ancient and modern beliefs. Sometimes referred to as prayer, sometimes called meditation, there is now much evidence about the mental, physical and spiritual benefits of experiencing this silence.
In a study from the journal Brain Research Bulletin, researchers found that individuals trained to meditate over 8-weeks were better able to control the brain waves known as alpha rhythms. According to MIT neuroscientist, Christopher Moore, “data indicates that meditation training makes you better at focusing, in part by allowing you to better regulate how things that arise will impact you.”
Wellness leaders such as Deepak Chopra advocate that a disciplined approach of as little as 10 minutes per day can lead to inner peace, greater intuition, compassion, awareness, focus, synchronicity and ultimately higher states of awareness. Medical researchers show results such as lower blood pressure, reduction in chronic pain and insomnia, boosts in immunity, and dozens of other health benefits.
It’s remarkable that a practice thought to reach into the heavens can cause so many earthly benefits while making an individual more grounded at the same time. Given that this is a reflective time of year for me, I’m looking back over 2012 and considering what I might modify in order to create a 2013 worthy of my best. Whether through prayer, meditation or even a weekly solitary walk through nature, the notion of “plugging in” will certainly make my list. And by plugging in, I’m hopeful to shine.
Here’s wishing you and your family the best in the new year. May it be one that shines.