During this season of giving, many people rush around creating more stress on their body and finances than any other time of the year.
They say they don’t have the time nor the money to take care of themselves because they feel they must give to everyone else.
This make them miserable, stressed, and many times, physically ill. I hope that is not you! (Or – don’t let this be you!)
Yoga teaches us that when we are always giving to others, and our cup is not full, what we are truly giving is merely an illusion.
Your daughter or wife, husband, grandchild or friend will not remember that sweater you gave them 20 years from now, but they will remember your laughter – you being fully present with them while they told you their latest adventure, and how your eyes joyfully lit up whenever they walked into the room. Memories of the heart!
So, we must continue to ask ourselves – are we keeping ourselves peaceful and healthy so that we are fully present with our loved ones? Fully present in this day? Fully present on this precious planet?
Thich Nhat Hanh, beloved Vietnamese Monk, reminds us of our most precious gift in his book Collections:
“Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand new hours to live. What a precious gift! We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others.”
There have been many great teachers in my life. They seem to continue to keep bringing me back – over and over again to these main truths:
What I think about
What I focus on (how I spend my time)
How I view and spend money
How I choose to create my life
My long ago mentor, Marguerite Close got me past my first excuse I always used to not take care of myself, the:
“I don’t have the money for exercise, yoga, a massage or healthy food” excuse.
Marguerite made me track every penny I spent for 30 days, and even though I made very little income, it was life-changing to see how much I was spending on food that did not love my body, toys for my kids that they rarely used, and clothes for my body that I quickly grew tired of.
She opened my eyes to help me see what was happening in my low income neighborhood; that mothers and fathers were spending and wasting loads of money on toys for their children, cigarettes for themselves, and new shiny cars, all out of guilt for what they felt they didn’t have and couldn’t give to their families, or, as an illusion to appear to be something they were not.
When I began to live consciously and see what I was doing to myself with my thoughts and my actions, I began to choose healthier ways to spend my time and money.
When I began to choose differently, the Universe stepped up to help me in ways that I could have never imaged, and continues to bless me with miracles each day. This makes life much more peaceful, despite any physical, emotional, or material challenges I still work with.
Peace cannot be bought.
Peace is not something you have to go out and search outside yourself for.
“Peace is present right here and now,” says Thich Nhat Hanh,“in ourselves and everything we do and see.
The question is whether or not we are in touch with peace?
We don’t have to travel far away to enjoy the blue sky. We don’t have to leave our city or even our neighborhood to enjoy the eyes of a beautiful child. Even the air we breathe can be a source of joy.”
Are we seeing the peace that is always available to us, the peace that is always there?
Thich Nhat Hanh continues, “We can smile, breathe, walk, and eat our meals in a way that allows us to be in touch with the abundance of happiness that is available.
We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive. Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy, abundance, and serenity. We only need to be awake and alive in the present moment.”
Yoga slows us down so that we can be fully present in the moment.
Yoga tunes us into our breath. The breath connects us to the peace that is there, in this present moment.
There is no better time to practice Gentle Yoga than during the Holiday Season.
Taking time to slow down and breathe will help you accomplish more in less time, and help you make more appropriate decisions.
Taking an hour out of your day for yoga will help keep your stress levels down, which will strengthen your immune system, and actually help you accomplish more.
Breathing mindfully will help you to be more fully present for the people that love you.
During this season, make the time to practice more yoga, to put your self-care at the top of your gift list, and watch your life become more peaceful.
Quotes used from the book Collections, by Thich Nhat Hanh, beloved Vietnamese Monk.
Thich Nhat Hanh writes, lectures and hosts retreats throughout the World