It’s that time of year again. When the shopping malls flood with individuals, nightfall prompts a colourful illumination of city streets, and our hearts are filled with love and happiness … but wait, why’s ‘love and pleasure’ last on the list ??

Christmas lights

When you consider Christmas is this, by opportunity, the ranking of occasions in your mind? Top priority primary, get the pressure of shopping out of the way, concern number two, arrange yourself to set up the designs, wrap the presents, bake the goodies, and so on. Top priority number three, if there’s time at the end, take pleasure in a few of the warm fuzzy feelings that this holiday season supposedly brings.

It’s clear that in our consumer-based society, Christmas has actually been twisted and exploited to the advantage of business, leaving a sad shell of its real roots.

A recent conversation with a good friend triggered me to think about a partial solution to this from a totally various viewpoint. She commented that when maturing, Christmas had constantly implied specific things: a tree, gifts, a specific dinner, etc. Without these things, it just ‘would not be Christmas’.

When she started to see the deeper significance of the vacation (in essence, to offer and get love), these other external actions became empty to her, and she discussed that she couldn’t enjoy them.

This seemed understandable to me, however upon later factor to consider, I began to wonder if her severe response was essential. Why couldn’t she take pleasure in those external things for what they were, while keeping the true spirit of the vacation within her heart? Did understanding the truth of Christmas need to involve a negative view and certain withdrawal from the world?

Born and raised a Christian, I’m well aware of Christmas and the matching traditions associated with it. As a student and educator of Yoga on the other hand, a practice greatly influenced by Buddhism, I’ve embraced an added view on things.

Essentially, in Yoga and Buddhism, one seeks the truth without being eliminated from the world. It’s similar to Jesus’ teaching to ‘be in the world, but not of it’. When exercising yoga asana (postures), one stays connected to the peace and ease of being with the breath, while still experiencing all physical, mental and psychological experiences that occur in each position. The crucial is that the exercising individual feels these things totally, without being consumed by them.

Likewise, in Buddhism it’s taught that in order to minimize and get rid of suffering, we need to practice detachment. It’s advised to continue staying in the world with all the experiences it provides, however acknowledging these things as transient and unpredictable, thus releasing any desires or expectations around them.

Coming back to my pal, my eventual thought and feelings was that possibly she ought to attempt taking a Buddhist or Yogic approach to Christmas. Having the understanding that the season is simply about opening our hearts to those around us is her reality, while all the other actions surrounding it are just additional. They’re the experiences of the yoga present, elements to be noted and discovered for what they are, while remaining rooted in the undeviating truth that they aren’t the essence of it.

Similarly, from a Buddhist point of view, she could acknowledge the transient and unpredictable nature of the actions surrounding the vacation: the supper couldn’t turn out, the tree mightn’t resemble in 2012, the gifts mightn’t be what were anticipated … yet none of these things are the cause of the delight of the period anyway, and are for that reason eventually irrelevant.

Why even think about the strange possibility of infusing Christmas with a Yogic or Buddhist spirit?

The truth that today’s ‘Christmas’ commonly brings with it an abundance of tension and rush points straight to the reality that, as a society, we’re very much out of touch with the inherent charm and easy splendor of this time of year. A mindful step back will help ease some, if not all, of this tension.

You don’t need to abandon whatever customs you typically take part in, however instead of getting captured up in them, seek to remain linked to the pure meaning of the vacation, and permit your actions to stem easily from here.

Breathe, notification, and allow yourself to take pleasure in the experience.

A couple of feel-good yoga positions do not harm either,)

Happy Holidays!