Christmas time – it can be a crazy, busy time of year and a time when plenty of emotions, stress and anxiety can be stirred up also. First of all there is all the shopping; money, time, and brainpower required to figure it all out. Then there is the social side of Christmas which can go both ways; for some there is the juggling of fitting in all the invitations and making time to see family, for some it is the opposite and while everybody else is buzzing with social activities it can accentuate feelings of loneliness.
There is a third side of Christmas besides from the busy-ness of shopping and the socialising with family and friends. That is the peace, stillness and calm of Christmas. Yes, it’s true. Sometimes the first two are so full on, that number 3 gets a little overshadowed.
My yoga students will have heard me mention over the last few weeks how essential my yoga practice is to me especially at this time of year. There were a few conversations while yoga mats were being unrolled about how ‘busy’ people were feeling, yet the majority of students attended each week, committing to their weekly dose of yoga class, and some even letting me know how they had begun to find time at home to practice.
I always love hearing little stories about home practice – sometimes a student will tell me about lighting a candle as they practiced, or that they found 5 minutes before heading to work. Part of my ‘job’ is to encouraging home yoga practice, even if it makes me redundant – sounds a little funny! I still love attending yoga classes myself, and I’m sure I always will, but nothing matches how much I value my own practice.
The Yoga Sutras define yoga as “Yogas citta-vrtti-nirodhah” – Yoga is the slowing and stilling of the fluctuations of the mind.
How many fluctuations were going on, when I found myself in the middle of a huge store with a trolley full of things (even though I entered the store intending to just buy chrissy cards!), going through a list in my head of where else I could shop, what other gifts should I buy, what other grocery items do I need for Christmas, what about the children’s school Christmas parties, and how much money did I want to spend? Not to mention the bustle of other shoppers around me, lights, music, conversations.
I made it to the checkout, realising how long I was in there and feeling dazed by the fluro lighting, and resolved to let that be enough for one day, and to enjoy some fresh air and quietness instead.
It’s fine to buy gifts and get all excited about finding something really cute for your niece/daughter/friend….but in the end I remind myself that’s all the material side of things. There is another side of things and it’s not about how much money you spend or what you buy. In the end the question is – what do I give?….. I give more than money or material things…. I give my time, my patience, my attention, my love and care, and my listening ears.
In order to give these things out, I must have them first within me. Where do I get them from, as I didn’t see them in the BigW or target catalogue?! Where do you find things that money cannot buy?
For me it’s from my yoga practice.
I give myself time, patience, attention, love/self-care and I listen to my inner self. By giving to myself I learn to slow and still the fluctuations of my mind….and it’s a work in progress!! That is why I continue to practice.
I know Christmas morning is going to be fun in our household and I expect my two pumpkins will be awake very early to see what is under the tree. I will set my intention to wake before them (might be tricky but I will try!), and I will spend a moment gazing out at the quiet morning garden, listening to the morning sounds, breathing in the fresh morning air, and I will pause and feel peace, stillness and calm. It may be just a minute, or it may be 20 minutes, but whatever, I will be grateful for that moment.
I wish you peace, stillness and calm too!
(picture source: www.zazzle.com.au)