For me, Christmas is always quite emotionally fraught. I'm not altogether sure what the genesis of this is, but at this time of year, I break down and weep at the adverts, at the soppy TV programmes, I weep when I'm with friends and when I'm alone. When I drink over Christmas I laugh and then weep, my poor liver screams and brings my emotional body down with it.
There's no time like Christmas to act as a reminder that I'm single, child-less and am now the oldest i've ever been, now a mystifying 40 years old. It seems that, once again, I'm having Christmas just with my parents. More confounding, I know that at some point in the future, Christmas will not feature my folks. Christmas is a time when I tend to turn inward. I tend to look at the past, as Silent Night song says 'the hopes and fears of all the years are met in hee tonight' - when the hopes and fears of ALL the years are on that one Christmas night. That's a very heavy pressure. Over Christmas, I inevitably reminisce. I reflect on the partners I swerved, those who swerved me; the things I had hoped for which never came to be and the things that, frankly, no nice way of saying it, I failed at. I think of all the unspoken words, the undone deeds, and whilst I'm beating myself up over the seemingly endless list of regrets, I add the regrets and mis-deeds, and of the hurt that others have caused me over all the year. Yes, all of the hopes and fears of all of the years? This is truly too much to carry. No wonder I just want to get drunk at Christmas.
That's the background story. Combine that with the daily realities of getting through the holiday season with family who I might not see other than at this time of year and my inner child comes out. Not her beautiful, angelic self, but the snotty, whinging brat of an inner-child as those long-standing resentments surface. Put that tension plus my own self- doubts, thwarted hopes and dreams and fears of the future in the mix plus a heady mix of alcohol and over-eating.
And then I wonder why I find Christmas an emotionally challenging time.
So how do I get through this time?
Well, first of all, I won't swerve the emotions. So I'm watching Love Actually, being reminded of my still single status, or at very best precarious love-life, or maybe I'm grieving past hurts, heartbreaks or those who I've lost, maybe whilst indulging in some wine and mince pies and wondering why I've had to say those hurtful things, or frankly behave like such an ass-hole.
I go there. Go deep into how I am. Feeling the full wrath of your Christmas loneliness/tantrum/nostalgia or regrets or whatever it is that's happening right now. I sit with it. Literally, when I feel these feelings welling up, I stop what I'm doing and just take yourself out to revel in this feeling. Trying not to analyse, not thinking about the feeling, don't try to 'fix' the feeling, or the causes of it - but instead, just simply feeling it. For a while. And then something starts to happen. But I'm not going to put out a spoiler. To experience this, you have to just experience it. Just go there and feel what you feel. And see what happens.
And the next thing to do, is to make a commitment. Not some lousy 'resolution' that you know you'll break, but a real, heartfelt commitment to yourself. Commit to doing a movement, breathing and mindfulnes practice every day. Maybe you only have five minutes. That's ok. Just do five minutes. Is your mind telling you now to wait until you get that fabulous new mat/outfit to do this in? Or wait until you've had that operation to fix whatever you need physically. Well sod your mind. You're perfect to start exactly right now. Your body and mind are in the ideal state right now to start healing your pain, your emotional wounds, your sores, accumulated through the years - the hopes and fears of all those years and many Christmasses - are stored in your cells, in your body. Your pain body, your emotional body is as much to be worked-out as your physical body. Find a movement and breath work practice that works for you to really start to transform your pain, your wounds, your fears, your resentments. Make it your task over this season to not swerve your inner world, but to make it as bright, beautiful and tinsel-clad as the outer world you are so assiduously decorating.
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