Feeling stressed about the holidays? An oxymoron most fall prey to. Holidays are a time to celebrate, be grateful, eat, drink and be merry. Right?! How in the world could this stir up fear, worry, anxiety and stress us out? Through yoga we can turn our fear into cheer without changing anyone or anything around us. How? Shift our own mind and attitude! There are two paths of yoga in particular that will enable us to be joyful and free this holiday season.
First, it is important to note that YOU CAN’T MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY! Make choices, stick to them, and let go. There will always be those who get upset; it is not your job to prevent this. Someone will likely be disappointed in you. That might not change. Most people are self-focused. All they are concerned with is what they are receiving or what they want from you. You cannot win this battle!
Second, nobody is going to change for you this year, so don’t expect it. Let everyone be who they are! If someone changes --great! If they don’t, that is great too! The alcoholic who drank too much last year and the year before, and caused a ruckus, will do it again this year! If you cannot handle it, then do not go. Be prepared for them to act according to their own nature and have a great time watching the show! Otherwise, you will be disappointed and upset from your own unrealistic expectations. Properly assess each person that you may be in contact with and you will be entertained! If the turkey or tofurkey was dry last year, guess what? IT WILL LIKELY BE THE SAME THIS YEAR! The asshole in the family will be the asshole. In fact, everyone will be themselves. With this attitude you will be in great spirits and enjoy a wonderful holiday.
Beyond the perceptions, emotions, and thoughts lies our essential true Self. Yoga is the union to our higher Self within. Since all human beings have three material equipments, there are three yoga practices prescribed to each of them. We have a body that perceives and acts, a mind that emotes and feels and an intellect that reasons and contemplates. The following two yoga practices will serve us well through the holidays:
Karma yoga is the path of action for the body. Act in a spirit of service and sacrifice.
a) Focus on GIVING rather than taking. Think about what we may contribute, help, serve and give. That wipes out any thinking about what we want. Wanting, craving, expecting and yearning are all forms of stress and agitation. Once we get what we want, we then develop a fear of losing that thing or being.
b) If you are worried about what food you will be able to eat at the holiday table because you observe a vegan or special diet, call the host and ask what you may bring or how you can help. Thinking or asking what they will have for you when you already know the answer will only add agitation. Who cares if there is nothing you can eat? Will you starve after just one meal? No. Is this really about food? No! Eat beforehand if you have to or eat the things you are able to when you are there. Be happy to be able to share an experience with friends or family!
Bhakti yoga is the path of devotion for the mind. Focus on the infinite blessings in each moment followed by a feeling of gratitude. This higher recognition and feeling replaces negative emotions.
a) Take time to notice that you woke up today. Not everyone woke up. You were blessed with another day of life. If your eyes are reading these words, you were blessed with sight. What is enabling you to see right now or comprehend this subject? Being aware of an unknown enlivening factor keeps our head out of the gutter.
b) As you drive to what previously seemed to be a dreadful holiday meal or visit, look out the window and acknowledge Mother Nature: the leaves changing or falling, snowflakes creating a winter wonderland, rain replenishing the earth, sun giving vitality. These thoughts will help outweigh the bullshit that goes on in our mind and lift us right up.
These two yoga practices will empower us throughout life and especially the holiday season. Never again do we need to fret on a holiday. Override your FEARS.
Happy Holidays and CHEERS,