For a lot of people, the holidays evoke feelings of stress, anxiety, and all-around misery. What should be a joyous and exciting time regardless of religious affiliation, ends up being a source of utter dread. It is understandable how this has happened. There is a ton of pressure to be the perfect parent, especially during the holidays. Unfortunately, besides perfection being arbitrary anyway, one would think that reaching said non-existent perfection is based on the ability to buy the best, latest, most of the season’s presents. It doesn’t help that ads, stores, and social media make it seem like you HAVE to have the latest and greatest to be happy.
One of yoga’s greatest tenets is the knowledge that you create your own happiness through perspective, meditation, and the eight-fold path. The eight limbs and the included yamas and niyamas are not a hard and fast set of rules that one must adhere (or else!), but the path does serve as a way to help yourself and others think and feel in regards to forming happiness. Yoga is for the holiday season, and not just in the way that you can attend a fun Christmas themed class, or in the way that you think about giving. Living a yogic life means that during the holidays, you also remain mindful and attentive to the facets of its goodness, towards yourself, the people with whom you interact, and the attitudes and reactions of society who massively shift their schedules and behaviors for this celebratory season.
Some simple ways to remain mindful, to ensure that consumerism does not go in excess of healthy limits, is to consider how often you find yourself thinking about ads or commercials you saw, or conversations you heard regarding the season’s “hot” toys. Begin thinking about how much mindless shopping you are doing. Are you purchasing to fill the tree or stocking? Will the intended recipient love and use the gift, or are you buying because everyone has been talking about it?
Becoming mindful also includes thinking about what you need and want in a healthy way. Some would argue that wants are superfluous distractions. And while much of that may be true, it is only human to want and in itself is not a bad thing. After all, life is meant to be enjoyed! However, consider if you have space or time for a potential purchase. Do you really need yet another coffee mug? (Blasphemous, I know).
Lastly, becoming mindful about the winter holidays involves reflecting on how often we are thinking about what we are getting and not what we are giving. As adults, it is incredibly important to model gratefulness and a giving spirit. The easiest way to do this is to BE grateful when you receive gifts and gracious if we NEED to make a return/don’t like something/etc. Talk about giving and share the process of giving. Notice your thoughts when you are in the store or watching TV and your mind drifts toward your own gifts. Acknowledge your excitement and then move on to thinking and talking about your family and friends.
Having a mindful holiday means you can be fully present enjoying your friends, family, food, giving, AND getting.