As we head into the silly season, it can be challenging to keep centred and mindful. But if we would like to uphold the true spirit of the season that still lies behind the excess and overindulgence, it is important to cultivate awareness of what we truly value in life and create intentions for living in alignment with these beliefs. Here are some ways to slow down and be more mindful this holiday season:

  1. Connect to nature
    It is always a bit strange to be celebrating a time of snow, darkness and winter cold when we in the southern hemisphere are in the middle of summer. But how lucky we are to have these bright and warm days to enjoy, and what better than to take full advantage of them – whether its waking up early to watch the sunrise, spending time at the ocean or a body of water, or just spreading out a blanket on the lawn to bask in the sunlight and let the buzz of insects and birdsong send us into a meditative state. There is little to compare to the power of nature to inspire, ground and clean up our energy.
  2. Create rituals and celebrate traditions
    There is something about this time of year that brings us closer to a feeling of magic than any other time and it is only partly to do with twinkling lights, mythical beings and jingling bells. It is a desire within all of us, young and old alike, to observe and be fascinated by the mysteries that there still are in this world, to celebrate and honour the changing of the seasons, as old as time itself, and to create and keep rituals and traditions that bind us together and connect us to the mysteries. So take time to create a sense of ceremony when meals are prepared, when decorations are hung and even when small moments are shared. These will be the memories that will remain.
  3. Consume less
    The majority of our Christmas experience seems to revolve around consumerist practices. We are bombarded with exhortations to spend more and more on gifts, decorations, holiday stays and eating out. Overconsumption is leading to so many ecological and social problems, and perhaps by taking a closer look at our habits during this most excessive time of year, we can start to make conscious changes, ones that respect the environment while still celebrating the spirit of giving. Often we spend money we don’t have on things that we (and the receivers of our gifts) don’t really need. Perhaps we can consider smaller, ethically sourced and thoughtful gifts. It might even be a great time to re-evaluate just how much importance we place on the price and visibility of our giving as opposed to the quality of time shared with loved ones.
  4. Go for walks and keep healthy
    Long days allow for plenty of time to go for walks. These can be a chance to give yourself a little respite from the high energy of holidays, to escape that cabin fever, clear our minds and press the refresh button, and they can also be a special opportunity to spend time with family and friends, away from phones and screens and noisy distractions so that we can be fully present with each other, which is really one of the most valuable gifts we can give. Notice your surroundings, observe the quality of the light, feel the ground rise up to meet each step and take deep lungfuls of air.
    We will also do well to keep up our regular health and exercise routines, so that when we do indulge we are still maintaining balance. Your yoga practice can be a helpful way to hold your centre and reduce holiday stress.
  5. Kindness is what it’s all about
    In the midst of the noise and crowds, the family dynamics and personal concerns, let us not forget our humanity, that we are all part of the same earthly family, that we’re all in this together! Becoming frustrated with ourselves and each other is natural and our emotions can easily become heightened at this time. But compassion and acceptance will always trump aggression and judgement and we will feel so much better if we take opportunities to show kindness – whether that looks like an invitation to lunch, a bagful of groceries or just a hug for someone who needs it. Treat yourself with kindness too, celebrate yourself, give yourself what you need and don’t worry about the rest.

May your Christmas tree be piled up with… presence!