by Laura McCorry
It’s December and like many of you, I’m making a list and checking it twice, trying to find thoughtful gifts for all the people I love best. Holiday shopping has never been easy, but in recent years I’ve decided my gift-giving should be eco-conscious, ethically-sourced, and in line with minimalism, as well as something that will bring joy to the recipient. Phew.
You know what we don’t need this holiday season? Another gift guide listing things to buy. Even the most-desired, best-chosen gift in the world cannot make you happy. Happiness is something you have to make within yourself.
For yogis, happiness (or contentment) is the moral observance of Santosha, one of the niyamas. Through this lens, happiness is not something you have, it’s a way of being and something you practice.
The Best Gift Ever? THE Present. The actual present moment.
Here are 6 ways to enjoy the present moment this holiday season:
- Breathe. You don’t need to follow a specific pranayama, or breath control technique. Just observe your breath as you inhale and exhale. Breathe slowly, without effort, until you feel calm.
- Let Go. Let go of things you wanted to do. Let go of parties you don’t want to attend. Let go of your expectations for others. Let go of your expectations for yourself. There are so many burdens you can simply drop.
- Observe. What is happening right this moment? Between our calendars, the pull of the internet, and social media, we are too often caught swirling somewhere virtual. Ground yourself mentally in the same place as your physical self. Then anchor your mind were you are at that moment, (not the past or the future) the present.
- Care for Your Needs. It’s hard to be present and at peace when you’re really hungry. Or too tired. Or your feet are too cold. Take a break to feed yourself, go to bed earlier, or put on some socks. Your body will thank you for noticing.
- Give Your Full Attention. Helping others makes us feel good! That’s why we like to give gifts. Give the gift of your full attention to whoever is closest. Make eye contact. Truly listen.
- Set a Reminder. It can be as simple as an alarm on your phone or a meditation app or anytime that you think of chocolate or coffee, that will prompt you once a day. Take a few minutes each day to breathe and check in with yourself.
Yoga and Laura had an on-again-off-again relationship from 2004 until 2009 when they decided to move in together and there’s been no looking back since. Passionate about both yoga and writing, Laura loves to introduce others to the joys and benefits of yoga and healthy living.