Our youngest daughter is discovering writing. Aged nearly four, she can craft a pretty good letter ‘S’.
She’s learning her name. When you ask her to write it, she carefully traces out an ‘S’. She’s practicing often. She feels proud and it’s great. The only thing is, it’s not her name she’s writing.
‘S’ is actually the first letter of her big sister’s name, not her own. My youngest daughter’s name starts with an ‘A’. Yet here she is, convinced ‘S’ means ‘A’, borrowing something that isn’t hers.
Is she, at the ripe age three, grappling with her own identity?!? Could my darling three- year-old be already suffering an affliction which affects us all? Known to yogis for millennia, it’s one of the five afflictions of the mind identified in the yoga sutras. I’ve written on it before: It’s called Asmita – translated as false identification.
And little Asha is not alone. These past weeks I have sensed a real Christmas frazzle in my students, and felt it in myself.
It’s enough to make me start my name with an ‘S’!
So many of us are deeply tired from another full year. An already full week of being pulled in multiple directions all at once. Like the proverbial camel, another end year event might just bring us to our knees. It’s neither a relaxing nor safe feeling; it’s like you are in a house of cards which threatens to tumble.
Our nervous system doesn’t need to ask us. It recognises stress and shifts us into adrenaline mode which takes us further away from any hope of relaxation or feeling the lurve.
This all acts to cause us to over identify with the wrong stuff, and pull you away from true pure unwavering self.
The general Christmas chaos, the planning, the shopping, the concerts, the invitations. The family tensions sparked, clouding and pressurising this supposed to be joyful time of year. Even just smuggling presents into the house adds to our stress.
This overcommitting results in uncomfortable squishing feelings and little panics.
If you are feeling drained, it might be you are not being completely true to yourself. How can we live more authentically at this time of year?
The first thing is to make space also known as ‘commit to under-commit’.
I am convinced that the more often we can connect with ourselves in short little ways, the better we feel. Remember we want to experience a better quality, more fulfilling life with oodles of contentment. Underachieving can be a wondrous thing!
1. Take time to connect and reconnect with yourself. Whatever you can fit in: A whole yoga class, brief office pause or a single minute of focused breathing. The more you do the quicker you get at dropping back in and coming home to yourself.
2. Say no to some things. You will have more demands and offers at this time of year. You don’t need to do everything. And don’t feel guilty while not doing it either!
3. Get out of your comfort zone and ask for help more than you usually would. And no guilt there either! Remember, if you don’t accept offered help you are blocking someone from giving. Allowing someone to give to you opens up the giving and receiving channels. Yes, you are actually helping make the world go round!
Next consider what you experience as your main ‘skin’.
Is it the label of father or mother, sister, husband, boss, friend, son or daughter, or maybe your most defining role is a job title? Anything goes. Pick the one that feels most obvious (or dare I say it, most oppressive) and sense into it.
Taste this skin. It will have a certain texture to it. Experience what it’s like wearing this skin for a short time.
Next, imagine unzipping this skin, and stepping out of it. Underneath is a fresher ‘you’. A more authentic being, closer to the real you. Relax into this.
If it feels good to stay here, appreciating a new freedom, stay. If you like to repeat this practice with one or more other labels, then do so. Sense into each one. Each will have a different flavour and various degrees of palatability. Then unzip it or peel it off. Find out what’s underneath.
You can do this with as many layers as you like. Until you come to something which feels close to you; the you that the world deserves to see. That authentic centre that, when you move from it, allows things to flow beautifully.
Happy holidays everyone!