December 23, 2011

The True Meaning of the Holidays Cannot be Wrapped in a Box.

Courtesy of YogaDawg Howls

Hopefully, as you read this article you’re not being overwhelmed by competing in the holiday season frenzy. I am not against rituals and gift giving, but the idea of celebrating a particular event on the specific day is not appealing to me anymore. However, this attitude could generate resentment or negativity. To avoid this, I try to find a path of compassion and understanding while staying true to myself.

With this in mind, I don’t say no to holidays, but keep the commercialism to a minimum. I have opted out of sending paper cards and have signed up  with an on-line service in order to send my greeting cards. I have asked my family and friends not to exchange “things”, but to share experiences. There are many options, from seeing a movie to going to a yoga class or a spa.

So what about you?  The most important thing is to make sure that you are acting on your own believe system and not blindly following the mainstream. Take a moment and feel. What does this holiday season really mean to you? Remember, there are many ways to conduct your life, many paths to follow. If you feel the “traditional” holiday experience is dragging you down, you might want to consider creating new and healthy traditions.

Here I have summarized my top eight rules of how to stay centered, not only during this holiday season,  but  throughout the year.

1) Be present or, as Ram Das said, “Be Here Now.” When you eat, just eat. When you chop carrots, focus on chopping carrots. When you wash your hands, just wash your hands. Turn off the TV when you’re eating. If we could pause and steadily observe realities instead of comparing how things could or should be, then life would be like a fairy tale. Like children, free of our old patterns, we can enjoy life. I have to clap my palms at least 100 times to remind myself to be present. Sometimes it works…

2) Get some extra rest, even if it requires skipping your favorite show or dinner with friends. This is essential to our health and well-being. We lose focus, become irritable, and can’t function in the world if we don’t get enough sleep. I have a huge sign (Sleep: 8:30 pm) next to my bedroom. I try not to get sucked into the Internet or reading and I don’t eat during the two hours before I go to bed. It is amazing how this one simple change can affect your life.

Nourish your body

3) Nourish your body with life-giving, high-energy foods: juices, seasonal vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and dark chocolate (try sugar-free, raw). Pay attention to what you eat and how it makes you feel. Enjoy simple homemade meals. Try not to overindulge. If you have to choose, eat alone rather than in a bad company.

4) Start you day with warm water and lemon. After sleeping through the night the body’s tissues are dehydrated and need clean, pure water to filter out toxins and improve energy production in the cells. Have some warm water with fresh lemon to help your body oxygenate and maximize enzyme function. (Additional Benefit: lemon is known to stimulate the liver’s natural enzymes. This assists the liver in the process of dumping toxins,  such as uric acid, and liquefying congested bile ducts). Continue sipping throughout the day.

5) Take an Epsom Salts bath. The two main components of Epsom salts are magnesium and sulfate. Magnesium helps the body regulate activity in over 300 enzymes. It plays a role in energy production, muscle control, and elimination of toxins. Pour two full cups and soak for 15 minutes. See the benefits for yourself!

6) Nourish your mind by meditating. My meditation practice is very short and sweet. Most importantly, I do it daily. It gives me a direct pathway into my own heart and mind. For a few seconds, there is peace and tranquility. Try to sit for a few seconds and visualize elements in nature (the sun, the ocean, or mountains). Meditation helps us to gain the insight that being in the “Now” is a condition of freedom that exists beyond our patterns.

7) Have fun. Dance, take a new class, or read a fun book. I have to ensure I incorporate fun things into my routine. I spend so many hours on the computer, with the rest of my time spent focusing on yoga. With not much time left over, I still try to do something fun every day.

8) Dream often. Being a big dreamer doesn’t mean that you walk around with your head in the clouds. It means that you’re seeking a purpose for your life and it means that you’re becoming fulfilled in the process. For this, you need a path and a methodology. To me, yoga is a science of reaching your true dreams. I always carry a notebook and write down my ideas when they come to me. I try to count my blessing and at the same time imagine what my life path could be.

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