With the holiday season coming up, many of us experience a mixed bag of emotions. It is a time that we wait for all year and then it creeps up on us and we suddenly feel unprepared for it. We begin to anticipate the coming festivities as we start to take stock of the year that is coming to an end. Time may suddenly seem to have gone by in a blur and there may be a sense of eagerness to get it all over with or some disappointment that we did not accomplish everything that we wanted to. Ahead is a break in the routine, a chance to reconnect with ourselves, spend time with loved ones and recharge for the year ahead. We look forward to the holidays with a sense of excitement and nostalgia, but may equally find that some difficult memories come up or that we are stressing about spending time with family members with whom we have challenging relationships. We begin putting expectations on ourselves and others to be joyful, loving, sharing and to make the most of this short time afforded to us. We may start cramming a schedule that is filled with activities that we didn’t have the time or budget for during the rest of the year. Perhaps we have left it too late and are scrambling to make last-minute plans, feeling already that we have failed to maximise our precious time off. It can all become quite overwhelming! And we find ourselves caught in a loop of busy life – busy relaxation, when what we are really craving is a deeper connection, presence, magic – a quality of being that is about living the good life and not the fast life. The original beauty of seasonal holidays was to observe and celebrate the cyclical movement of time, the natural rhythms of life – not to hurry through them with a to-do list. How can we return to a slower, richer way of celebrating?
Myth: The busier we are, the more successful and productive we are.
We live in a culture of speed and overwork, where time is scarce and all of our energy and resources are used in trying to keep up with a perceived image of the busiest as the winner. When we take time off it is almost only because we are obliged to – because it is a part of the schedule, because our jobs and bodies require us to. But while we are “relaxing” we are feeling guilty that we did not finish something, anxious that there will be more to catch up with when we get back to our regular routine, and we are seldom truly at ease. What if we approached the concepts of work and play/rest in a different way?
The opposite of busyness is not laziness – it is stillness. It is not an absence of movement, but a beingness under the movement, like the depths of the ocean beneath the waves. To slow down is to move towards ourselves, to awaken our senses, notice our bodies and environments, recognise what action is required and what is superfluous. When we deliberately choose how we experience our days and lives, teach ourselves to resist habitual impulses and to actively detach from internal or external dictators, we start to appreciate what is truly important in our lives and we allow a natural movement of our attention and actions towards it.
So let us allow ourselves to develop an art of relaxation, let us become curious about and interested in our experiences, let us devote long periods to langouring, let us embrace our holidays with an enthusiasm that is grounded in an acceptance and appreciation of every moment, let us insist on spending our time in the richest way – not the busiest. And then we may find that we can carry this energy into our everyday lives, so that work and play and caring for ourselves and those close to us becomes a natural whole package.
Of course, a wonderful way to tune in and slow down is through yoga and meditation. Remember that time on your mat is sacred and special and that when you are patient and loving with yourself, your practice will become a joyful one. Let your discipline be your joy and always allow yourself room for playfulness.
Summer is the best time to enjoy yoga outdoors and if you would like to join one of our regular outdoor sessions or plan an event with friends and family or a year-end get-together for your employees or colleagues, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will ensure that you are taken care of!