Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for the Spirit
It’s here, the last month of 2018 and for most of us it is a welcome time where we can go inward to reflect, prepare for winter and practice self care according to the cycles of nature. This time of year also brings what we call the “holiday season” in the west, carrying with it a certain energy which increases our outer activity. We may be rushing to social gatherings, packing our schedules, spending time with friends/family(or reflecting on the lack of), or possibly feeling the pressure on our bank accounts and hearts .
While this season brings many welcomes and lovely things for us to experience, it is also a triggering time for many of us where we are reminded of our past/present personal and family of origin trauma, and/or experiencing increased levels of stress which brings anxiety, mood swings or depression especially due to the cold, dark and wet weather.
I wanted to put together the Ultimate 2018 Holiday gift guide for the spirit, with gifts that go beyond the holidays so here are my top 5 gifts to the self:
1- Practice daily self care
In Ayurveda we have a daily self care system called Dinacharya, each season has its own set of self care guiding principles called Ritucharya which help us live in harmony with the seasons. The best thing we can do for ourselves is create a consistent self care ritual that nourishes the mind, body and spirit. A few easy to implement techniques that go a long way are :
• Abhyanga: Daily self massage. Starting each morning with a warm oil massage on the body from head to toe with organic, cold pressed sesame or sunflower oil and letting it stand on the body for at least 10-15 minutes then washing off the excess oil without soap helps to reduce anxiety, builds a connection to between our body and spirit, reduces fear & nervousness, uplifts the mind and reducing depression symptoms, builds immunity, strengthens the skin, tissues, muscles and bones, gives our biggest organ nourishment, lustre and hydration.
• Tongue scraping: If you ever look at your tongue in the morning and see a white coating, that is toxic waste from undigested food called Ama. Especially at this time of year when we are indulging in lots of eating, sweets, late nights, alcohol consumption the digestive system takes a toll so we are left with this sticky, white or yellowish coating that is indicative of toxic waste in the body. Scraping the tongue stimulates our digestive organs, gets rid of the ama on the surface to promotes overall health, enhances the taste beds and decreases bad breath.
• Eating for your body: This is the season of over indulging, the gatherings paired with the cold weather has us craving comfort which easily impairs the digestive system. In Ayurveda our health and wellbeing begins and ends in the gut, if your digestive system isn’t clear, bright and functioning properly then neither will your mind or the rest of the body. Avoid excess stimulants like caffeine and processed sugars, alcohol, eating past 7-7:30 pm, avoid cold, dry, processed,uncooked foods and opt for warm,liquid, nourishing and grounding foods with plenty of spices and healthy fats like ghee (clarified butter) or sunflower oil.
Sadhana means the “the true wealth” or the means of accomplishing something and for me that is my spiritual practices which include Sudarshan Kriya, meditation and yoga. Each of these plays an important part in helping me create harmony with my inner and outer worlds and aligning my mind, body spirit. I really believe if we have our minds right then everything's alright. Sadhana is my mental hygiene practice, each day we unknowingly and knowingly absorb tons of information, stimuli, energy and toxic waste which impacts our quality of being. Movement of breath, body and energy allows us to clear away the waste and make room for more creativity, energy, clarity, joy, well being, groundedness, connection and so much more.
3- Set clear boundaries
An ultimate gift guide favourite for this season and every season thereafter is having clear boundaries. If you have experienced any sort of trauma it is likely you also have created a defence mechanism and it may look and sound like a boundary but there’s one big difference. Healthy boundaries are connective and leave space for you to engage, share energy and show up fully as you are whereas defence structures are disconnecting, can create anxiety, anger and stress from being always being on guard.
This season is difficult for many people either to be around their families which can be triggering for unresolved hurt and trauma or others may feel lonely, sad, isolated if they don’t have a supportive family structure around (that can be your chosen families and soul family, I never limit family to blood-relations). To ensure you keep your inner peace and stability establish clear boundaries that allow you to be in your power while maintaining connection with the ones you choose to connect with. This means not needing to show up when and if you don’t want to, leaving when you feel uncomfortable, not engaging in conflict, protecting your physical boundaries when you feel unsafe (yes,you can choose not to hug that person and protect your energy!) and accepting those around you as they are without feeling the need to change them or be triggered by them.
4- Protect ya energy
I am someone who is incredibly sensitive to the energy of people and places and as someone who works with people almost daily and sometimes very hands on in my Ayurveda practice the biggest gift I give myself is protecting my energy. If you feel anxious in gatherings especially crowds, drained or fatigued afterwards, are very intuitive or feel like you take on other people's feelings,you are sensitive to harsh stimulus like too many lights or sounds or negative imagery then chances are you are an empath. There are varying degrees to being an empath and you’ll know where you are on the spectrum by being still and listening to your body. A few things I use is to ensure I am protecting my own energy are :
1- Taking long and deep conscious breaths- this helps me feel grounded and move the prana/ energy through my body
2- Before entering a space or situation I envision a bubble of light around me, nothing that is not mine and I don’t want can get in and nothing that is mine and I don’t want to share, can get out.
3- Swipe- Run your hands over your arms from shoulder to fingertips, envisioning anything clinging to you being swiped away with each stroke. Do this three times and finish with dusting off your hands from wrist to fingertips three times before you step into your home after being out. Alternatively you can do a technique called aura brushing by making a comb with your fingers and brushing from the head to feet like you would brush your hair. Respectfully smudging the body with ethically sourced sage is also very powerful in clearing energy in the auric field.
4- Crystals- Always in my self protection and care kit are my crystals, I tuck them into my clothes when I am going places or teaching. Favourite ones are black tourmaline and hematite.
In Sikhi we practice seva or selfless service not only does seva help others around us but it also greatly uplifts our spirits. Instead of material gifts perhaps consider organizing a service project, volunteer your time for those in need, reflect on the abundance in your life and pay it forward in some small way to someone else. I am more mindful of my gift purchasing in the recent years and check-in and decide whether what I am purchasing will be beneficial in the long run, impact of it on the environment, is it ethically sourced/ produced and always supporting small businesses, women run and POC run businesses when I can. These small ways of being conscious and mindful of our choices can impact the planet and someone's life in a profound way.
Whichever place you are from and whether you celebrate this season or another, my sincerest wish is for you to know you are the ultimate gift. Please take care of yourself with these small revolutionary acts of wellness and honour the divine gift that you are, strengthen the light of your spirit so you always radiate joy, wellness, health.