Use Everything as a Reminder

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

I found myself singing along with the music as I stood in line at Starbucks, “Deck the halls with boughs of holly, Fa la la la la, La la, la la.”  I love the decorated shop windows and the little huts going up in the shopping malls — “Santa Claus is coming to town…”  This is a joyous season, whether you celebrate Christmas or not.  At the same time, this is the most stressful time of the year, and a time when more people commit suicide than any other.

Two people can walk down the same sidewalk, passing by the lights and decorations on every side, and have two different experiences.  This is because it doesn’t matter what you are looking at on the outside — it is what you are looking at on the inside that matters.  The lights, decorations and music are all reminders, but what they remind you of is different for every person.

One person is reminded of all the people she still has to buy gifts for, and how limited her budget is.

Another is reminded of the upcoming visit to his extended family, and is looking forward to the reunion with great joy.  Yet another dreads the family scene/  These two people can even belong to the same family!

Someone else is reminded of so many joy-filled Christmas mornings and is delighted to be creating the same for her own children or for a family whose name she got from a list at the local homeless shelter.

One person will look at all the happy shoppers and be reminded of all the poverty and injustice in the world.  She may donate her time or shopping money to an organization that is working in these worthwhile arenas, or she might just complain about life.

There are many people who see every decoration as a reminder of the Divine Birth they celebrate from 2,000 years ago.

Some are reminded that they don’t celebrate Christmas because their religion is different than mainstream America.  Some of these people like being different.  Others want mainstream America to approve of them.

Some people use the joyfulness of the season to remind themselves of all the reasons they are not joyful, whether it is the problems of their life right now or the history of their life so far.

Where your mind goes is personal to you, but it determines how your entire holiday season goes.  Your inner reality is so much stronger than the outer environment.  Yoga says, “Look deeper!  Look within and see that you are Divine Consciousness.”

A yogi uses every event as a reminder to look within.  Everything in the world is used as a reminder of consciousness.  Consciousness has become all that exists, and you can see this.  There is an inner dimension that far transcends the outer events.  Whatever you see, and whatever you do, say or think is an opportunity to recognize the divine within the mundane.  This includes the holiday decorations along with the traffic jams.  It includes the garbage that needs to be taken out, the ringing of the alarm clock, the errands to be run, and the smile of a child sitting in Santa’s lap, as well as the tears of another child who is afraid to sit up there.  This is true, not just for five or six weeks at the end of every year, but in every moment of every day, all year long — every year.

Along the way, you can use everything as a reminder to look at consciousness.  The One Divine Reality has become everything that exists, and you can see this (or remember this) in every moment.  You must learn to see it.  Without being able to see the divine in everything, you live like a thirsty man in a desert, looking everywhere for water and never finding it.  Instead, everything in life is a reminder of consciousness — just look again.  Look past your reactions and see the divine in everything.  Start with your Self.

Originally published December 2003