“Joy to the world!” So exclaims the Christmas carol. Are you feeling joyful at the moment?
So many people I speak to at the moment are feeling tired, full of cold, wishing the days away until their Christmas break – as well as slightly (or openly!) dreading the amount of work Christmas entails.
…The shopping, the wrapping, the presents, the keeping-everyone-happy-but-forgetting-about-yourself push, push, push of the festive season.
I’ve found myself grumbling about Christmas too – I don’t feel Christmassy, I wish the weather was more seasonal, I’m fed up of Christmas already because it’s been around in the shops since the start of November… Bah humbug!
Make a choice
Instead, why not choose to feel better?
Let’s connect to child-like innocence. Let’s let a little joy back into our lives.
Now I know there’s so much pressure for everything to be “perfect” at Christmas – and I certainly don’t advocate piling on any more pressure.
However, yoga teaches us to be mindful of our thoughts – aware of what’s going on without judgement. And this awareness helps us to choose how we feel and the thoughts we pursue.
So why not choose joy?
Love life, love who you are, love what is. Unconditionally.
Allow yourself just to be in the present moment – that’s were true joy resides. Not in the memories. Not in plans. But in the experience of the gift of this present moment.
And it’s in the simple things.
You might feel joy watching the lights sparkling on your Christmas tree; when you feel spellbound by a beautiful glowing sunset; noticing raindrops on cobwebs in the garden; or the frost tracing patterns on your window.
Joy may be in singing Christmas carols; dancing to cheesy Christmas hits of yesteryear; in spending time with close ones; in the look of delight on a child’s face at the prospect of a visit from Santa Claus.
Access your innate joy by practising contentment, which yoga philosophy calls santosha.
A true contentment where you are living in the present – no longer attaching your sense of happiness to acquiring things, or worrying about what people think of you.
In practising contentment, you are able to appreciate who you are and what you have – just as they are.
And with it, also practise non-attachment (Aparigraha). As you find contentment you no longer attach labels to whether circumstances or events are good or bad.
Don’t attach to what Christmas “should” feel like or look like; don’t cling to memories of Christmas past; don’t get attached to how much you “should” eat or drink this Christmas.
When you stop trying to change yourself, your environment and other people into what you think they should be you can find a much greater sense of inner peace and stillness.
And this creates a breathing space to allow you to connect to the natural joy which is within all of our hearts.
Sing, dance, run, skip, play. Connect to a sense of playful curiosity and innocence.
Every morning affirm “This will be the best day ever” – before the mind’s list-making, worrying and judging kicks in.
Shower yourself with joy
Try this simple exercise, daily if you can, to awaken joy in your heart:
- Stand in Mountain Pose
- Raise your arms overhead, palms facing up. Pause and breathe normally.
- Visualise sparkling, golden sunlight is shining onto the palms of your hands. Feel the warmth. Imagine your hands filling with golden light.
- Breathing out, turn your palms to face downwards and lower your hands slowly past the crown of your head, your forehead, throat, heart and all the way down to your hips. Relax your arms to the sides of your body and gently push the palms of the hands towards the floor
- As you make this movement, sweeping your hands down the front of your body, affirm Joy fills my heart; joy fills my mind; joy fills my life.
Connect to joy. Breathe in joy. Breathe out joy into the world around you.
Let joy fill your heart.
Send joy to the world this Christmas, and every day.