Open your heart this Christmas
Published: Thursday, December 15, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 15, 2011 21:12
People today say Christmas is becoming more commercial each year and is steadily losing focus on the true meaning of the holiday. Many stores had Christmas decorations up before customers could think about Halloween. This is not a new phenomenon. In the movie "Miracle on 34th Street," the character Kris Kringle mentions several times that Christmas is losing its true meaning. That movie was made in 1947.
Santa Clara resident Kim Watters said: "Christmas is the time of year you are supposed to think about Christ, who was the greatest example of compassion and charity. But it is so difficult ,because of commercialism, to get yourself into the mindset of the true meaning of Christmas."
Her family reads stories and watches movies about giving and service to open up their hearts and minds for the Christmas season.
"Once we start this process it becomes easier to see how good our family has it and to find other families and individuals to be charitable with," Watters said. "Charity is the deepest form of love."
Many families have Christmas traditions that are used as ways to put themselves into the right mindset. Lisa Jacobson, a mother of three from St. George, loves to participate in the local KONY Coins For Kids fundraiser. "My children and I always feel good when we donate money and toys to Coins For Kids," Jacobsen said. "It is a wonderful program, and it's a great way to educate my family about the true meaning of Christmas."
Opening the heart and letting love in lifts us out of our self-centered habits and propels us into an enlarged view of the world, according to the book "Eastern Body Western Mind" by Anodea Judith. It allows us to understand another's needs or in other words become more compassionate.
Brian Goodwin, a Dixie College alumnus and operations compliance manager for Zions Bank, said being compassionate comes naturally to him because his parents set an example for him while he was growing up. He watched them set aside money from each paycheck to go to families in need.
"Instead of going on a big vacation with the family my parents would always have $2,000-3,000 in cash available to give to someone who needed it, even if it was just a few hundred dollars here and there," Goodwin said.
Learning those values early on impressed Goodwin to continue looking for ways to help people in need. He said listening to people is the key in finding out who really needs help. During a casual conversation with a co-worker he was able to pick up subtle clues that her family was in need of help. Instead of waiting until the last minute, Goodwin set aside money from each paycheck starting in March and was able to anonymously deliver a Christmas to that family last year.
Goodwin also said Zions Bank offers ways that people can anonymously donate to individuals and organizations through local branch offices and online.
Making Someone Feel Special All Year
Kris Stanger, a sophomore with undecided major from St. George, was raised in a very large family. She said it was difficult to feel special during Christmas or any other time of year because individual attention was hard to come by. This is the reason she loves to make feel people feel special throughout the year by sending little messages via email or text to let people know they came to mind and matter to her.
"All it takes is a little effort to make someone feel special and important," Stanger said. "You'd be surprised what you could do for people with a simple message- it's the little things that count."
Sustaining that spirit to make people feel good is sometimes difficult when life gets you down, Stanger said. That is why she loves to throw parties.
"Events where individuals are acknowledged are always a good time and give me the opportunity to give to someone all year long," Stanger said.
Opening Your Heart
Another way to open the heart and sustain the Christmas spirit is to develop the ability to stimulate the heart chakra. According to "Eastern Body Western Mind," a chakra is a center of organization that receives, assimilates and expresses life force energy. It is not a physical entity, yet chakras have a very strong effect upon the body. There are seven main chakras in the body with the heart chakra residing directly in the center.
Jessamy Bowie, a sophomore psychology major from St. George and adjunct yoga instructor, said developing your heart center can be as easy as closing your eyes and visualizing the heart center expanding and growing. She also mentioned any type of movement where you are using your hands or arms will stimulate this powerful energy.
"In yoga we say our hands are just an extension of our heart, so when we use our arms in movements like raising them up or moving them back and forth, it projects energy from the heart outward," Bowie said.
Having an open heart center is important because the gifts associated with the heart center are love, compassion, forgiveness and service. Bowie said once we recognize that we deserve those gifts it's like a two-way street-- the ability to not only give those gifts but to receive them as well creating a "win-win" situation.
Bowie said if we learn how to keep the heart center open and flowing, maintaining the Christmas spirit is easy all year long.