It’s Christmas time again. The festive season of merriness and good will to all!
But … have you finished your Christmas shopping? (No? I haven’t either… oopsie!) Are you already worrying about how many mince pies you’ve eaten? Are you worried about Christmas travel – train woes, or getting stuck in traffic?
Maybe there’s a secret part of you almost dreading Christmas because you’ve got the whole family descending and you know it’s going to be exhausting.
This time of year, can be magical. The sharp, frosty, glittering mornings; the radiant glow of the soft late-afternoon sun. The child-like excitement; the getting together to drink and be merry; the sharing; and lots of lovely food.
But, let’s be honest, it comes with its pressures. Spend, spend, spend! Party, party, party! Eat, drink, eat, drink! You WILL have fun (or be called a Scrooge if you don’t)!
I look around me and I see so many people looking totally exhausted.
So here’s how I suggest we can bring a yogic approach to mid-Winter and the festive season to promote a sense of harmony within – and with those we are spending Christmas-time with.
Pause and connect
Many of us get time off work during this season (unless you’re a mum!!). And as the year moves into its darkest phase with short days and less light, it’s a time we can use to look within.
As the year turns round again use this time to pause, and look inside. Reflect on what you have achieved during this year. What went well? What were your challenges? Reflect, without judgement.
Reconnect with yourself. Your wishes, your desires. Your talents, your achievements.
And also turn your gaze outward and reconnect with those you are spending time with over Christmas. Maybe you’re seeing family you only see once a year – make the most of this time to find out how things are with them.
When we’ve got so much to prepare for Christmas – food, presents, drinks, travel etc etc – we can soon get lost in a massive to-do list. We worry about what we should have done by now – and fret over everything which needs to be done.
We can so easily slip out of awareness of the present moment.
For example, I haven’t finished my Christmas shopping. Sometimes I start to get anxious about this! OMG there’s less than week to go, I should have done it in November – eek! Argh!! Grrrr!!!
But in staying present, we can save ourselves a lot of angst. So my practice here is to live in this moment. Worrying about completing my shopping isn’t going to get it done – it simply raises my stress levels and stops me focusing on what I am doing today. I know I am going to Winchester on Saturday to buy the final few bits and I have my list. Job done. No need to worry … relax!
Notice when you’ve moved from presence and peace into anxiety and worry. Smile to yourself and gently bring yourself back to the here and now. Breathe. Focus on the sensation of your in-breath and out-breath. You can cope. Everything will get done. You’re fine.
Whatever challenges arise over the festive period, practise acceptance.
We so often set ourselves up for pressure (and a fall) by creating vivid pictures of how things *should* be. Accept what is and you’ll save yourself a lot of stress.
So you overslept and the turkey isn’t going to be ready until the evening. Hey ho. More time to chat / drink / go for a walk / have an afternoon snooze (delete as appropriate).
Both you and your cousin have bought your sister the same dress. Well, give her the gift receipt and now she’s got the bonus of being able to choose something for herself in the sales.
And acceptance applies to yourself too. If you over-indulge on the festive good cheer (and suddenly realize you’ve eaten your body weight in mince pies and Stollen … again) well, don’t beat yourself up. Accept that this is what you’ve done. Feeling guilty and telling yourself you’re bad isn’t going to change anything.
Make a conscious decision to hold back next time if you wish, or go for it and indulge all you want. Just don’t judge yourself either way. (“Everything in moderation, even moderation” – one of my favourite pieces of Buddha wisdom!)
With so much food, drink and telly doing the rounds at this time of year, we can sometimes forget about that other realm of experience …. OUTSIDE!
So put on your walking shoes, and get out and get some fresh air.
Sense the earth beneath your feet; notice the freshness of the air on your skin; feel the watery, wintery sunlight bathing you and filling you up with energy and wellbeing.
If the weather’s bad then bring the earth in to you with my Earth Focus Meditation.
This time of mid-winter marks a turning point in the year. The days will be soon be getting longer. The light is returning. The sap will begin to rise. The cycle of the seasons continues.
Contentment (or Santosha) is one of the yogic observances set down by Patanjali.
This is a biggie to put into practise at Christmas.
You don’t need anything more than you already have to achieve contentment. You don’t need to acquire any more material goods for happiness. You don’t have to change yourself.
You are perfect just as you are.
So, whatever you’re doing and wherever you are this Christmas-time, I wish you a relaxing Christmas and a peaceful new year!
Love + light,
If you would like regular tips, insights and wisdom delivered to your inbox, and to receive a free 17-minute guided relaxation, then please leave your name and email address.
And if you’d like to try a slower-paced, therapeutic approach to yoga which helps you to relax, then why not come along to one of my yoga classes in Southampton & Eastleigh, Hampshire, UK?