Is this the time of year in which you tend to think about love and romance and make effort to be more loving towards yourself and others? YES! Valentine’s is coming!
As you are reading this, I am enjoying most beautiful island of Bali with my husband and son. It is easier to feel loving and lovable when in the mood for holiday and surrounded by the beauty of nature. What about everyday life?
Sometimes I feel angry or powerless as things get out of control, or I might feel burdened by many responsibilities, or usual routine makes my life feel dull… Under these circumstances can I still feel IN LOVE with myself, my husband, my son, life itself? I say YES! and practicing yoga is my answer. Right, yoga is my answer for most of my questions (as it really does work!).
When yoga is approached as a practice to deepen awareness, it helps to cultivate the skill for self-compassion and love which is especially useful when your life has become out of alignment. And the practice could be very simple – just feeling your body. Do you know that your body speaks your mind? Your body is a barometer of what’s really happening in your mind and in your life. Breathe deeply and notice how your body feels today. Where do you feel tightness? Any discomfort anywhere? Just bringing awareness to some place in your body stimulates the flow of vital energy to this place. It might intensify your sensations at first but if you keep your calm focus and deep breath, the physical discomfort will gradually disappear and it will release some mental pressure too! This is a practice I’ve been doing more than any other ones since my son was born. The reason is simple – it’s very effective in relaxing the body and mind and I can do it pretty much any time, even while simultaneously taking care of my baby. In this case I choose a smaller area to concentrate on – say, my feet if I’m walking, or my hands if I’m cutting veggies.
Since we talk about it before the Valentine’s day, I suggest you concentrate on feeling your chest and your heart area. Is your heart cold or warm? Open or closed? Soft or hard? Really feel into it. And stay with whatever comes up for you for some time. Keep choosing feeling instead of thinking. Don’t let your mind interfere. Then start exhaling anything that doesn’t serve you anymore. Empty it all out. Create some renewed space in your heart. As the next step, allow your breath get deeper and start inhaling love. Feel warm smooth soft sensations filling in your heart. And feel the well of love which is always in your heart pouring out. You ARE love. That’s what your deeper self is. Just pure love. Once you feel you’ve had enough, finish the practice with sending love, blessings and warm wishes of happiness to your loved ones and all beings. Repeat daily or as often as possible. I hope you will try this meditation for yourself, and will like it as much as I do.
It’s important to learn to nourish our deeper self first, to feel love, to be love. Only then we can share it with others. It is also great to stay open to the love that surrounds us. You might be surprised at how much you are given when your heart and mind stays open. Giving and receiving freely is so much fun! As you learn connecting to your heart and your true real self – LOVE, you will find it much easier to stay connected and loving to others.
Tomorrow (Dec 22nd) is the winter solstice! Here comes the longest night of the year! That’s the time when we must be most introspective and allow plenty of rest to the body and mind. And what do we find in reality? Paradoxically, these days can be the most hectic and least peaceful time of the year…
How are YOU feeling this holiday season? Are you excited by all these gatherings with family and friends, and feel satisfied and content with your holidays? Or do you feel overwhelmed by trying to please your loved ones and to manage all this shopping, decorating, mailing, baking, travelling… (You name it!)?Why don’t we take a break to feel? Yes, to really FEEL. Right now. Let’s just find 5 minutes to simply switch from thinking to feeling. Start by paying attention to your breath: how do I breathe at the moment? Is my breath deep or shallow? Slow or fast? Smooth or harsh? Now try to notice what is happening inside of your body: do I feel relaxed or tensed? Which parts of the body carry the tension? And lastly – what’s happening inside of my heart: what emotions are prevailing at the moment – peace, contentment, joy or frustration, irritation,sadness?If you are satisfied with your answers, carry on with whatever you do! Your holiday is a happy one and your body and mind are in tune! However, the majority of us might find ourselves ungrounded, stressed and far from being peaceful (and that’s when we are «expected» to be most joyful!).
So what can we do? There is no other way but to respect the Nature and our body-mind system, and try to slow down. We can attend only the MOST important activities reminding ourselves that before we can honour others, we must first honour ourselves. We can look for ways to save ourselves time and effort, maybe buying our holiday pies from the local bakery rather than baking them or simply asking others to help us? It’s essential to get plenty of sleep, and eat well. Don’t attempt trying every food you’ll be offered!
For me personally, my saviour is my commitment to yoga. I think maintaining my yoga practice is essential to get the best from my holidays. I felt so good this morning after just a short asana practice! (Cutting the time in half is better than skipping it altogether). And practicing sitting meditation is my sanctuary from all holiday pressures.
Winter solstice energy applies to all life and all beings, and whether we like it or not it effects us too! Honor the energy of the Mother Earth and spend today and tomorrow as quiet as possible, in self-reflection, going within your self and cultivating feminine, passive energy of Yin or Tha.It could be any type of exercise program or energy practice for you, but if you do hatha yoga consider including more contemplative postures, like forward bends and long-held Yin-style asanas (click on the words to get an example). These poses reverse the frenetic stress that builds up around the holidays. And don’t forget some digestion-aiding asanas. Add more twists into your practice—they’re a good counterbalance to indulgence in food and drink!
If we stay tuned into Nature we’ll feel nurtured and maintain balance. And that can help us to enjoy the season’s indulgences even more and recover from them more quickly:)) hopefully, we’ll stay mindful enough not to indulge, and manage to enjoy everything in moderation:)).
If you are on a yoga (or any other spiritual) path, the holiday times is a test on just how well you have learned and embodied our yoga practice. Remember that yoga is a way of life. If it is to be truly useful, yoga should be available to us anytime anywhere.
I’d like to wish you all the holidays full of joy, love and happiness.