I don’t know how you feel about them, but for me the holidays are almost always intense. Being sensitive to the vibrations of the collective, I find myself picking up on the unconscious emotions of others more than ever during the holiday season.

I took a day trip to Assisi on the way to the holiday dinner, and in its pristine Basilica, covered with frescoes by Giotto, I felt the vibrations of gratitude and transcendence of St. Francis in my body and psyche, a feeling of verticality that drew me upward. Afterward, I enjoyed a celebratory Christmas dinner with my partner’s family here in Italy, with six courses of magnificent decadence (my favorite was the lasagna with artichoke:).

At the end of the evening, apparently out of nowhere, I felt a deep sadness arising within me. The emotion was layered—it didn’t feel entirely personal, though there were aspects of it that felt related to my personal history and my relationships with some of my close family members. Some of the grief felt ancestral. I could feel as I sat with the beauty of these Italian traditions that are still very close to the hearts of people in this part of the world, that some of it was the grief of my own people who lost contact with their traditions during colonialism and immigration stirring within in me.

And then some of the grief, I realized, had absolutely nothing to do with my personal story. It was a deeper, more collective grief that perhaps many of us are feeling beneath the surface as we contemplate the uncertain future of our planet.

There is no kind of therapeutic practice that can lighten the weight of what we are facing in the present moment together in our world. But maybe the goal of our practices of care is not, cannot, be to make us feel better. What somatic work can do, is to vastly increase our capacity to feel what we must feel, without turning away from our world. And in the stretching of that capacity, we can distinguish the many layers of reality that we hold within ourselves and that we are called on to process and to transmute, whether they be personal, familial, ancestral, political, or collective. The paradox is that in readying ourselves to serve in this way, you do feel better, in the sense of feeling more capable of, perhaps even ignited by, confronting the unique trials of your path. Separation from that which we are called upon to feel often causes more suffering than the sensations themselves.

Whether you were celebrating with friends and family yesterday, or whether you were experiencing the day alone, as I myself often do, your experience reflects a facet of our collective experience. What were you sitting with, what were you metabolizing? Was it personal, familial, ancestral, political, or collective? Where did these impressions manifest in your embodied experience?  Even just asking ourselves these questions, or writing about them, can initiate a process of differentiation that allows your consciousness to process your experience in a new way.

I would love to hear about your experience. If you feel called to share, please post to the comments below and join this conversation. And I am posting updates on my travels as well as resources and information about somatic work on instagram (anita.chari.embody), please join me there.

Many blessings for the holiday!


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