Ho, ho, ho, Christmas is coming!
For many of us, Christmas heralds a calendar jam-packed with social gatherings, eating, shopping and exchanging presents. And while the festive season can certainly be full of fun and joy, it can sometimes trigger discomfort around consumerism and spending. Even the act of, giving and receiving gifts can raise your stress levels.
Luckily, the yoga tradition offers several philosophical guidelines to help us navigate our Christmas giving with ease. Here’s how to embody a little yogic philosophy this Christmas:
Consume with kindness
Yoga’s first Yama, or ethical guideline, Ahimsa, reminds us to ‘do no harm’. At Christmas, this principle could translate to veering away from purchasing plastic gifts, which are harmful to the environment. When choosing gifts, you could consider the invisible costs to the environment of growing, manufacturing and distribution - such as the carbon footprint of transporting goods for example.
Hot summer days and crowded shopping malls can ruffle the feathers of even the calmest consumers! If you feel your ‘inner tinsel’ getting in a tangle amongst the throng, take a few deep breaths- practice patience and compassion toward your fellow shoppers and yourself.
Of course, Christmas isn’t Christmas without all the yummy food traditions! You can embody ahimsa by choosing free-range, organic, and ethically raised or sourced options wherever possible.
Release the strings
Yoga’s ancient text The Bhagavad Gita speaks of Dana; the concept of cultivating generosity and giving without any expectation of appreciation or reward. You can practice offering gifts with the intention of bringing joy to the receiver without expecting any praise.
Be of service
For some members of the community, Christmas can be a time of challenge and hardship. You could look for opportunities for offering gifts or service to those in need at this time of the year. Contact a charity that resonates with you to discover how you can help, or you could simply ask an elderly/ unwell neighbour if you can be of assistance in any way.
Be true to you
Remember to honour your own boundaries over the festive season, particularly in relation to spending. Make a realistic budget and stick to it. When you can find the intersection of the amount that feels comfortable to spend with a gift and that brings joy to the receiver, you’re on a winner!
Presence is the best present
Really, the most precious gift you can give anyone this Christmas is your time. The memories you make with your loved ones are sure to outlast material possessions. Get creative and give the gift of your time. Team a board game with a ‘booking’ to roll the dice together; schedule a few coffee dates (your shout) in a new diary, or sign up and pay for a season of yoga classes to enjoy with a friend.
May your Christmas be full of the joy of giving in whatever form it takes!