by Katherine Girling, ERYT200/RYT500
Namaste, yogis! The holidays are a wonderful opportunity to appreciate our communities of family and friends, and truly experience gratitude and love for all our blessings. It's easy to be dismayed by the materialism of our modern world, where spiritual traditions have been largely replaced by commercialism. All too often, people tend to get wrapped up in their "stuff": what they have, what they're buying next, what they want but can't afford, what they're giving and receiving. For those engaged in conscious living, there's more to look forward to and appreciate beyond all the stuff.
In the Tibetan language, the word attachment is translated as "do chag," meaning "sticky desire." It's human nature to become overly attached to the things that bring us pleasure, and to feel the pain of separation when we lose them. We also tend to form attachments to our dislikes, injuries and fears, allowing these aversions to throw us off balance.
The Yoga Sutras discuss non-attachment (vairagya) as an important step on a spiritual path. Embodying vairagya means being aware that your relationship to something - an object, person, or habit - causes you pain or suffering, and being able to surrender it completely. The practice of yoga leads to recognition of the things that bind us. What am I attached to? Why am I attached to it? How does it serve me? The first step is to acknowledge that it binds us and understand why. And then, continued practice in meditation helps dissolve those attachments.
As you engage in the traditions of your own family and culture this year, be mindful attachments, aversions and desires. A few suggestions for stress-free celebration:
Focus on experiences and connections, which bring lasting joy.
Avoid the accumulation of more stuff, which ultimately only leads to clutter and dissatisfaction.
Lend a helping hand to someone in need: a neighbor, a family member, your local food bank. Share your abundance with others.
Show compassion to family and friends, to their quirks and eccentricities and button pushing. Don't make a habit of getting irritated or feeding negativity.
Let go of grudges and grievances - these are another type of attachment that only hurt you.
Indulge your desires - whatever form of merriment you choose - in moderation. This prevents your indulgences from infringing on your overall quality of life.
Carve out a few minutes each day to sit in stillness and silence. Regular meditation will keep you centered and calm.
From our family to yours, wishing you all much lightness, abundance, peace and joy for the New Year!