Blessings to all my friends,
This letter brings my heartfelt wishes for a truly joyous holiday season and an abundant New Year. The Winter Solstice (December 21st in the Northern Hemisphere) is one of the most important Celestial events of the year. In all cultures this phenomenon was celebrated in some way. People knew that winter could be hard and so they found a way to feel hope that the light would return. Burning Yule Logs and candles, and gathering to feast together gave people a sense of community as well as hope in this time of the darkness.
As the days grow shorter and colder, I always think about people’s lives before we had electricity and instant cyber communication. What must it have been like for these folks who needed to conserve precious candles and take care of the hearth fire to just to have light and to keep warm. How important human relationships were when we all needed help to survive. Even in the age of individualism the importance of relational bonds continues. According to actuarial statistics, people live longer, healthier lives when they have strong emotional bonds and even pets can help.
As we gather with our friends and families, let yourself experience the connection and sense of community. According to Dr. Sue Johnson, founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy, we are hard wired to bond with significant others from infancy to our final days. For mammals, especially humans, it is the most important and successful strategy for survival. When an Italian neurophysicist discovered mirror neurons in the mid 90’s, not many heard about it, but it is one of the most important discoveries. These neurons literally help us feel what the other person is feeling, thus they were dubbed the “empathy neuron.” Along with oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone,” these mirror neurons help us feel safe and connected when we have positive and pleasurable interactions. Just thinking about a loved one, (which includes close friends) can stimulate oxytocin release.
The interesting thing about connection at this time in history is that we can define what community means for ourselves. We are no longer bound by location or tribal ties: we can be a part of a community of our own choosing bonded by interests, experiences, or a myriad of other possible reasons. When you say to your close friends, “you are like family to me” this is not just a sweet sentiment. The potential for bonding comes from shared experiences that activate our mirror neurons, building safety and trust.
I love the lights at this time of year. I love the feeling as we gather together. Since my own family is grown we’ve started new traditions, making gifts simple and emphasizing connection. We’ve discovered games are a great way to play together, laugh and let out the kid in all of us, especially mom and dad. I am so grateful that the bonds of love continue to grow with our friends as well as family.
My wish for you is that you enjoy the connections you have and reach out to loved ones who may be far away but still in you heart.
Yuletide Blessings, Linda