A Message for the Holidays and New Year

It’s been a difficult year for many of us. The divides seem to have grown deeper and more numerous, and a collective sense of fear has made people reactive and in search of any kind of safe harbor. We’ve been told to isolate, keep our distance, restrain offers of trust and see each other as vectors of potential harm. The impact has been grave – social threads are fraying, and rates of anxiety and depression are through the roof. I’ve seen the impact on my own kids… it’s been a rough time for them, as it has been for many members of what people are calling the “Lost Generation.” 

It’s sad to see that at a time when we need each other and a sense of being in it together more than ever, we’re being forced apart, both from Covid and from the ongoing culture wars tearing through our communities. If it’s one thing I’ve learned and made my central belief in the years I’ve spent immersed in this work, it’s that connection is the medicine. I think humans need connection always, but all the more so in times of large-scale crises like what we’re facing today. Sometimes I feel hopeless as I watch the arrows fly, as we fight and argue even as the ship is sinking into cold, unforgiving waters. 

But then I spend some time with our participants, and continue living in and sharing our beautiful practice that holds us all as the perfectly imperfect human family that we are, and I remember that our nature is to be in connection, to be interlocked with the arms that hold us up when we feel weak, and press us forward even when we’re feeling scared and incapable. I get to see first-hand what happens when the protective walls fall away and people’s hearts light up, how it is to be held in a person’s undivided attention and loving curiosity. 

I get to see the most beautiful and intimate moments of sweet simple presence, I hear the deep sighs of relief as people look across and see a person’s eyes meeting theirs, as they both shed their loneliness and give each other a look that says, “I’ve got you, and we got this. No matter what happens, we’re in this together.” And I see people leaving our shared spaces and turning to face the world with resolve, a determination to speak the truth and lead the way back to wholeness. 

As many of us come together with family and loved ones in the coming days and weeks, how can we show up in a way that reconnects the loosened ties that bind us, and build bridges wherever there may be divides? We often use the metaphor of the hologram to describe how you show up in one moment is how you show up in every moment. How you treat one person is how you treat everyone – every interaction presents an opportunity to shape how we live our entire lives. Kindness and curiosity extended toward your parent, sibling, neighbor, or partner is kindness and curiosity extended to all people, at a time when such relational gifts are in short supply. 

Authentic relating has shown me how to celebrate both the aspects of the common human experience that I share with all people – how we laugh, cry, struggle, strive, dream, and do our best to live according to our core values – and how to celebrate the fascinating differences that endow every one of us with guru nature. The more different someone is than me, the more my tiny sliver of reality can be enhanced and expanded by getting curious and learning how they see the world.

This holiday season, let’s see if we can heal one frayed relationship, reach out to one person in need, spark a few moments of meaningful, intimate connection with someone who may be feeling lonely or isolated or misunderstood, and remember what it is to feel interwoven with the threads of the great human tapestry. Connection is the medicine, and we are all worthy of it. 
From all of us at ART, we’d like to wish you a holiday season and New Year of joyful connection, sweetness and softness, seeing and being seen, health and abundance. May we find each other on the path sometime, and take a breath together, and be nourished for the journey ahead. 

Much love and many blessings. 

Ryel KestanoART Co-Founder/CEO/Senior Course Leader

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