Wednesday, December 2, 2020

A Humanist Practice for the Holidays

 As we approach the dark of winter, our practices are more important than ever; they keep us grounded and keep us pointed in the right direction in a quixotic world.

In the humanist tradition, our practices are grounded in the life around us in the present moment. Humanism strives to building a future that is ethical and just for all, that draws out the human capacities for goodness and helps us realize our own gifts in service to the interconnected web of life of which we are a part. This practice is about remembering what is truly important to you.

My ongoing touchstone space

Creating Your Touchstone Space:

  • Find a place in your home that can be undisturbed by cats or other roommates throughout the season.
    • Using your own aesthetic sense, do something to remind yourself that this is a special, set aside place. That might mean taking a cloth and polishing the space, or it might mean finding a scarf, doily, place-mat that you enjoy to mark the spot. It can be a simple or flamboyant as feels good to you right now.
    • Take a moment while the space is empty to think of what values and qualities you want to be reminded of this winter. Compassion? Truth? The scientific method? Democracy? Love? Make a list either in your mind or on paper.
  • One at a time, choose an item that reminds you of those qualities from around your home and place it in the space you have chosen. Items can be as mundane as a calculator that reminds you of reason, or a photo of a loved one to reminds you of compassion. It can be an object you already have, one you search for on a walk outside, or a word or image you draw on a card or slip of paper.
    • Take a moment to think of how you feel when you are really grounded in yourself, when you feel strong. Chose an object to remind you of that feeling of inner strength.
    • Remember where you get support when you don’t feel strong. Chose an object to remind you where you have experienced that support in the past.
    • Think of someone (a living being, a community) whom you know needs support, and add an object to keep them in your mind and heart. Maybe an object from the gift bag to remind you of your community?
    • What about words? Consider including a Favorite poem, prayer, or just write a word on paper.
    • Be sure to add some things that delight your senses. If you like things simple, enjoy the simplicity. If you want to add seasonal decorations, or a sprinkling of sequins, add something that draws your eye to this special place.
  • Next, Check for balance and harmony. Does it seem too heavy? Lopsided? Move things around, add, change, remove until it has a unified feeling as a whole.
A temporary space from spring of 2020

Throughout the season:
From time to time take a moment to stop at your touchstone place, and notice if there is something that catches your eye, or something you want to remember. Take a moment to hold the object in your hand- (we remember best when multiple senses are engaged). As the season progresses, notice, is there anything you would add, change, remove?

When the season Ends:
Take a moment with each object to remember why you added it, and notice if anything has changed or shifted in you or in the world since that time. Perhaps say a statement of gratitude as you feel moved, remembering that science tells us gratitude is good medicine. Return the objects to their usual places, knowing they will hold the power of memory wherever they are.

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