Holiday Stress and the Collective – December 22 2019

Holiday Stress and the Collective – December 22 2019

The change of character brought about by the uprush of collective forces is amazing. A gentle and reasonable being can be transformed into a maniac or a savage beast… [W]e are constantly living on the edge of a volcano, and there is, so far as we know, no way of protecting ourselves from a possible outburst that will destroy everybody within reach.

Carl Gustav Jung,

Psychology and Religion

As meditators, there is something to be aware of, especially at the holiday season: the phenomenon of ‘laundering the stresses of the collective.’

Each time we meditate, our mantra takes us to the experience of deep and profound rest. At this deep level of rest, the stresses we have accumulated over the course of our life begin to unwind, releasing the energy that has been trapped within us and freeing us from the negative effects of these life-long stresses. This is the beginning of true freedom. 

Now the Veda tells us that consciousness is one thing. This means that no matter how much I may feel separate from my fellows, no matter how much I may identify as an individual, on the deepest level of Being I am at-one-with everyone, always. It’s not even that in some way my consciousness is connected to other consciousnesses; rather, my consciousness is the same as yours, as everyone’s. There is only one consciousness.

As a human being, stress is a fact of life. Even after learning to meditate, we still may become stressed; but by meditating, we no longer will store these stress responses. The stress reaction will be there, then it will be gone. Like a knife through water. The knife makes a mark, but the mark disappears almost immediately. 

Most of the population, however, does not meditate. Most don’t have a practice that allows them to let their stresses go.

Consciousness is one thing. Dr. Jung called it ‘the collective.’ When anyone in the collective experiences stress, everyone in the collective experiences stress. We may not know it, but it is there. And when stresses in the collective need to be released, it can be through meditators that this happens.

The holidays are stressful. For some more than others. Wherever we may fall on the spectrum, we all can feel it.

It helps to remember that this is a collective experience; that there are waves of a particular color, feeling, point of view that roll through the collective consciousness, and that because we’ve been meditating, we are going to be especially sensitive to these waves.

By remembering this, we will find it much easier to let negative feelings go, rather than identifying with them and acting them out on the people around us. And we may find ourselves more willing to give our fellows a break as we remind ourselves that they, too, are at the effect of these feelings; and if they are perhaps a bit too forceful in their reaction to us, if someone snaps at us, we might find ourselves able to not take it personally – to smile in understanding and tolerance and just move on to the next subject.

Today I will remind myself that it’s not necessary to react negatively to the world around me; that I can choose my point of view on things as they happen; and as uncomfortable, negative feelings arise, as they are sure to do, I will remind myself that they are stresses leaving the body, and I will let them go without having to act them out. I will ask for help from something greater than myself to find compassion for my fellows, as well as for myself. And whenever I find myself without a clue as to what to do next, I will ask the universe to show me how I might be of service to the world around me, and I will look outward through the eyes of love.

Crowd, Kumbh Mela, Triveni Sangham, Prayag, Uttar Pradesh, India