There is a lot about yoga that sinks deep into my soul during this time of year. As the rest of the world seems to speed up before the New Year, anxiously and desperately trying to finish what needs to be done before another year begins, I find myself trying to find stillness. I crave it, in fact. The busier life gets the more I want to dig deep down in the earth and just stay there, letting everything pass me by like wind through trees. Do you ever get the feeling that this season has become far too stressful?
There is a yama, or moral code, within the Eight Limbs of Yoga called aparigraha. It is all about being content with what you have and not coveting (or craving) something that isn’t yours to have. How often we wish that we could have everything that one best friend has, because she always seems to have everything; or we wish that our bodies could look like that one celebrity; or we wish something as simple as having a certain gadget or book or piece of furniture that someone else does. It is within human nature to crave, desire, and want things that are unnecessary; but the real trick is figuring out how to control this urge within us. Instead of being unhappy with what someone else has that we don’t, what if we instead took a good look at our own lives and figured out what we needed to make things better regardless of what we wanted? I think Christmas would become a completely different kind of holiday.
We all have dark pieces of ourselves. I remember when I was a teenager desperately wanting different things that others had almost constantly. And those wants were always changing, because what people had kept changing. One week I wanted a new phone, because Sally had gotten one three days ago and it worked beautifully, far more so than my crappy old flip phone. The next week I wanted a new backpack, because Karen had gotten hers from Vera Bradley and I absolutely had to get one too. As I got older, my wants changed, but the attitude behind them did not; I wanted a new car, just like the one my rich acquaintance just bought, because it was fancy and beautiful and smelled really good. I wanted clothes from certain designers because they were made in richer fabrics and practically smelled of money.
This might all sound incredibly materialistic, but take a moment to think—we’ve all had these thoughts. We’ve all wanted things like this. Now take another moment—have you ever felt guilty for these thoughts?
You shouldn’t. They’re just thoughts. They come, they go, they come back again. It’s that dark piece of ourselves that we try to shove away, deep in the blackest recesses of our minds. But what if I told you that it’s ok to bring them out into the light? That it’s ok to acknowledge our dark side, because to not acknowledge it is to let it rot and fester in its corner (where it grows)? When we come to terms with how our mind works, good and bad, we can better learn how to control it—so that not only does our holiday season become less stressful, it also becomes more meaningful. We begin to focus more on needs and contentedness and less on what we want. We slow down, like trees swaying slightly in the wind. That yin and yang, dark and light, are both essential parts of us. Don’t block one out. Instead, greet it. Get to know it. Only then will you be able to be truly whole—and more likely to find stillness and contentment within the craziness of this season.
Happy New Year, from our studio to you!