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Finding ease during the holiday season

I find this season to be the busiest time of the year, and this year has been extra special as the world opened up once again. Families and friends reconnecting which I think is truly special. There's this saying, I don't remember who it's from, but it goes something like this - "If you think you're enlightened, spend a week with your family." I think it's funny, but there's a bit of truth in that quote. No matter how much we try to "work on ourselves", time with family and those closest to us can bring up lots of emotions and reactivity. I know that to be true for me too.

My family and I watched the movie Meru. It's a beautiful film about about three amazing climber's first ascent of the "Shark's Fin" route on Meru Peak in the Indian Himalayas. They failed first time around, experienced life changing accidents, but they still tried again, and eventually succeeded during their second attempt. I think adventurers are a different breed. They come so close to death every time they take on a new journey. While watching I was so enthralled by their approach in climbing - they have to be in the moment, completely present, and they take with them this sense of letting go, surrendering to the unknown - the weather, the elements, the change in plans, the sensations and pain they experience in their bodies, loneliness, thrill, excitement and fear. I can't imagine doing what they do, I'd be terrified. Life is very much like climbing a mountain - so many things can true all at the same time. It's exciting and terrifying, love and hate the unpredictability of it all, hard and easy, fulfilling and exhausting. This holiday season can leave us feeling many different ways. How can we find that sense of ease and still connect with others? Here are some tools that may come in handy -

  • In the midst of busyness, find some alone time. Do something that you love yourself. Whatever it maybe, try to be as present as you can be, just like the adventurers. Apply what you learn in your practice - take a pause, re-connect with your body and breath. Your body is always ready to give you feedback. It speaks to you in subtle ways. Take time to listen and re-charge.

  • Create healthy boundaries. This needs a full entry in itself but reflect on what's most important for you as well. Is it important for you to disengage in controversial topics? For me, it's a big no for others to comment on my daughter's weight "Oh you've gained weight, or you lost weight Cassy." Ah, that's a massive one for us. So, we speak to our families about it prior to meeting up. My favorite way to communicate a boundary is the “I-statement” approach developed by clinical psychologist Thomas Gordon in 1970. It centers your feelings and experiences, reduces the likelihood of defensiveness in the listener, and offers concrete suggestions for change. Here’s how it works:

    • I feel .....

    • When you ....

    • Because ....

    • I need ....

The great thing with this approach is gives you space to reflect on your feelings and thoughts as well. This is something that I'll be sharing with our teens in our upcoming Shine Bright Teens Urban Retreat in January at our space in Pymble.

  • Move your body - Movement allows us to feel more grounded and connected which impacts our ability to manage stress. Commit to 7-10 minutes a day of activity. We love yoga but we love walks, running, and other activities as well. Choose your own adventure.

  • Be into nature - Make space for a mindful moment as you feel the water on your skin, as you stargaze, watch the sunrise, or feel the weather on your body. Research has shown that nature can generate many positive emotions, such as calmness, joy, and creativity.

If you're finding this time of year quite challenging, know that you're not alone. Remember to be gentle with yourself. Find soothing ways to tend to your needs.

I hope that you find these suggestions helpful and if you find yourself in a pickle remember that every day presents us with an opportunity to start again. Just for your awareness, our yoga space will be closed starting the 21st of Dec to 26th Dec to rest and replenish too. Our Festive Season Timetable will start from the 27th Dec - 6th Jan. Then regular classes are back on the 10th of January.

Happy holidays to you and your loved ones.

- Michelle

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