Gifts from the heart
The season of giving can be as simple or complicated, as stressful or joyous, as easy or hard as you want to make it. It is yours to create. So why not make it fun and meaningful and full of bliss? Look at this season as the time when you have abundant opportunities to live your yoga. This time of year practically begs for you to take your yoga off the mat and wear it like a soft wool shawl. How can you do this? The chances are around every corner.
Patience is taught by tight bodies that refuse to twist, fold, and bend as we want them to in asana. We learn to wait, and waiting is a holiday pastime. Look for ways to practice your yoga when you're standing in lines at the post office or the store, when you're searching for a parking place at the mall. Be in the moment, breathe in the excitement all around you, settle into a smile, and enjoy the wait. Use this time to find your quiet center. Let your peace flow out to others.
Yoga is the relentless pursuit of calm. Forgive rude drivers and pushy shoppers. Remember that getting angry at them does nothing to make them change their thoughtless ways; it only hurts you and your peaceful center.
Resolve not to let your mind rush or freak, even when everyone around you seems frantic. Embrace quietude. Be flexible and adaptable. When the last blue snowflake sweater that your daughter absolutely had to have is gone, then it's gone. Choose something else with confidence that she will love it because it comes from you.
This is a special time to practice karma yoga, the yoga of spiritual action and selfless service to others. There is a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, a nursing home, a toy drive that needs you. Volunteer, no matter how busy you are or how out of your way it takes you. The true follower of the karma path acts without thought of gain or reward. It is just the right thing to do. Of course, we should practice karma yoga every day of the year, but many of us just don't get around to fitting it into our busy lives. Well, this is the season to start something that may become a habit and a valuable part of your life.
Random acts of kindness are karma yoga. Take the time to notice these small opportunities. Think about others. Let the person with a crying baby on her hip standing in line behind you go before you in the check-out lane. Smile at harried store clerks and thank them. After that lovely holiday concert, take your time leaving the crowded parking lot. Why be in such a rush to get home? Let cars in line in front of you.
But I have to have something under the tree . . .
In his Yoga Sutra, Patanjali counsels us to practice "greedlessness." Amid Christmas lists as long as your arm and the constant caroling of "I want" and "I need," how do we still the longing for the material and nonmaterial? What do you want for Christmas, little girl or little boy? Diamonds, a bigger house, fame, a monster gas-guzzling SUV, a better headstand. Why do we want these things? These cravings are expressions of feelings of fear and emptiness. We think we need these things to complete ourselves. Contentment comes when we remember that 1) we live in a world of abundance (there are enough headstands to go around), and 2) we are already whole.
Still, it is fun to give. Here are some tips for holiday giving (both material and nonmaterial). We hope these make your life simpler and less frantic so that you can breathe in the spirit of the holidays both on the mat and in your life.
Stuff. For all those George Carlins out there who need more stuff or simply enjoy giving stuff, you can never go wrong with:
We at Yoga Movement wish all of you a holiday overflowing with peace and love. Namaste and don't let the crowds get to you.