I’m here for the presence…

Christmas is only a week away as I write this, a time which for some people is joy filled and for others can be quite difficult for a range of reasons. I find myself somewhere in the middle. I love many aspects of Christmas. The excitement of my children as the big day draws nearer, the decorating of the tree and the house, the connecting with family and friends, the purchasing and wrapping up of the gifts which I have carefully selected for each person, watching their faces when they open a gift that brings them pleasure. I love it all.

What I enjoy less is the marketing and merchandising, the crowded shopping centres, the over the top excesses and extremes that we are exposed to in our society. The underlying feelings and obligations that accompany some exchanges of gifts. I have on occasion purchased or made a small gift for someone as a surprise only to have them then rush out to buy me something in return. My gifts are carefully selected to bring joy to the recipients, my gifts are given freely and openly to brighten someones day and bring a smile to their face. My gifts are always, absolutely, 100% obligation free. This applies not just at Christmas time but for birthdays, just because presents,  all occasions.

Through Yoga Tinted Glasses Christmas is always full of joy, the philosophy of the yamas can be applied so effectively to the whole celebration.

Ahimsa – loving kindness for yourself and others pretty much sums up the spirit of getting together and celebrating with loved ones. If Christmas is difficult being aware of your own needs and seeking support or whatever it is that helps you to get through it. If you are tired, giving yourself rest. If you are loving every minute of it indulge in that. The whole time being open and aware of those you are spending time with, treating them to all of the love and compassion you can muster – what gift could be more meaningful than that?

Satya – honesty at Christmas time is about giving your true self, often when families gather there are underlying grudges and resentments, things left unsaid and we can feel like we need to be the person they expect rather than our true selves. How wonderfully liberating to let that all go and present the real you, at the same time greeting and acknowledging the real them. We might not be the same and we might have different values but letting go of any expectations, both of yourself and of others is a wonderful practice at Christmas time or any time…

Asteya – non stealing is not just about material things but also about energy and time. Letting everyone have their moment in the light, in our family when we open presents we do so one at a time so every gift gets seen, appreciated by each person, both giver and receiver are acknowledged and appreciated.

Bramacharya – moderation is something we can definitely use more of over Christmas time. It can become quite overwhelming with all of the excess. So much food, so many gifts, so many lights. I know it is only one day a year but what I love about it isn’t the food – it’s the people I’m eating with, not the presents but the presence. Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to really appreciate each other. One of the ways we do this by exchanging gifts but it should always be more about the reason they are given than the gifts themselves.  Some of the most memorable gifts I have received have not been hugely expensive or big but well thought out and given with love. I personally try to either make gifts myself or purchase them from craft markets, small local businesses or ethical companies. I am on the lookout all of the time for things that make me think of a particular person, things that will bring them pleasure.

Aparigraha – non grasping so perfectly complements Christmas, being generous. If you have loads of money and want to buy expensive presents then go for it. If you don’t have so much money then all you need to do is share what you do have in abundance – your love, your time, your energy and your presence.

May your Christmas or other festivities be peaceful, joyful and spent with those you love.

Love and light,





Winding up and wind down

It’s that time of year, some things are finishing off like my beginners course which ended last week and my Braybrook classes which wind up this Thursday while other things get busy, busy, busy in the rush to prepare for Christmas or other festivities, go to all of the social gatherings and events and see all of the different people for Christmas and just get on with the day to day stuff.

I sometimes look at my calendar for the week ahead and feel a little alarmed when there are no empty days, not even empty afternoons or mornings. I feel the need to brace myself to get through all of the events. Not that I don’t enjoy all of the catching up and socialising, quite the opposite in fact – I love this time of year and the opportunities it presents to share time with family and friends.  It’s more that I also need some time to myself, time to slow down, reflect on events, time to be alone, particularly when life is busy.

It’s taken me a while to realise this, I used to feel bad about not wanting to go to every party, every dinner, every event. I’ve arrived at the realisation of why I sometimes dread these things after much soul searching and self observation. What I’ve learnt about myself is this:

  • I love spending time with those close to me
  • I don’t feel comfortable in large groups of people
  • I need time to myself in between time spent with others
  • If I don’t honour these things I end up feeling frail, exhausted and on edge
The good news is that now that I know all of the above I can manage my calendar and social gatherings to suit which makes this time of year much more enjoyable. I prefer small gatherings to large groups, so try to visit people individually or go out for a meal rather than going to big get togethers. When I do go to the occasional larger gatherings I make sure I am aware of how I’m going and move out for some space if things start getting overwhelming.
Other ways I avoid the rush is by getting all of the Christmas shopping done as early as possible. Shopping centres, particularly busy ones, count as large groups of people and leave me exhausted so I limit my visits to them, try to get there during quiet times and, where possible, do my shopping at markets and smaller local businesses.
I keep track of that calendar and if it starts looking too crowded I start saying no to events or seeing what can be left off or moved to a quieter time. With three kids it can fill up very quickly so this one is important.
Finally I keep my yoga tinted glasses nearby, taking every opportunity between the busyness for a few deep breaths, a brief meditation, a short practice or even some mindful awareness of where I am and what’s going on. Winding down after a crazy day with my legs up the wall and some three part breathing helps me to reenergise and arrive refreshed and renewed to the next event…
May your festive season be restful and include a good balance of winding up and winding down…
Love and light,