Christmas comes every year, followed by the beginning of a new year, yet each year we can repeat the same patterns. We get caught in the frenzy, put pressure on ourselves, anticipate family gatherings, believe we need new resolutions, etc, etc etc….
There are no magic answers (let me know if you have one), however below are some ways that work for me:
1. Keep a morning (and/or evening) ritual
In the past I have told myself, it’s a busy time and I really can lounge in bed longer, skip my morning practice, not walk the dog. However I soon realised that whilst this sounded great in principle, I started to unravel! Seemingly irrelevant things would irritate me and small disappointments became the grounds for arguments. A reminder from the Yoga Sutras that yoga practice needs to be well established without break.
Remember your practice/routine does not have to be elaborate or extensive. Simple is good. Regular is good. For example, sitting still for 5 minutes quietly, mindfully, observing nature at dawn; several slow conscious deep breaths before eating breakfast; and bringing these practices into your entire day.
2. Decide which ‘voices’ in your head are important
I may not be alone with the myriad of conversations that can start in my head at these times. Something like..’Oh yes I really should send those Christmas cards’ OR Oh, I forgot to get Mary a present and she always remembers me and the children’. Being fully mindful and evaluating these ‘all or nothing’ statements can be a starting place for Pratipaksha Bhavana – replacing unhelpful thoughts with more helpful ones. The ancient yogic texts remind us that there is always a creative way for being with the present moment.
3. Stand tall – ground, connect
‘The morning sun always rises from Mother Earth’. I’ll never forget these kind words from a Swami as I left Yogaville in 2005, feeling quite alone as I returned to Australia. The Earth (at present) is always there. It unconditionally supports us and invites us to be. When you start to feel fragmented, stand up tall from the Earth, remember this foundation of support, consciously breath and exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide. Hug a tree – it gets us back to our centre!
4. Cool off…
Sometimes a simple solution from one of the ayurvedic principles, balancing heating and cooling, assists. Take a long, slow drink of cool water; walk calmly in the cool evening breeze at sunset; practise naddhi suddhi, the alternate nostril breath, a cooling breathing practice.
5. KISS – keep it simple
When I think back to some of the complex annual plans I have created for myself in January, that unraveled by February, I shudder. What was I thinking! In more recent years I have mused with my heartfelt desires, not my action plan, as one year moves into the next. Quite uncomfortable for me, however so much simpler and satisfying.
I know many of you have your own yogic practices for staying centred and true to yourself at these times. I’m sure others would love to learn from your wisdom. Comment, ‘share’ or let me know by email.