During this busy time, many of us start to feel a bit buzzy and somewhat out of touch with our centre. It is a time of joy and excitement, and that is wonderful. But how to enjoy the whirlwind without being blown away by it?
There are some sutras near the beginning of Chapter 1 that get skirted over as they can be quite pointed. Sutra 12 tells us that this steadiness comes from abhyasa (practice) and vairagya (non-identification). Ugh! There it is. Non-identification. It may be more fun and post-modern to practice awareness of each sense and sensation. But what is this vairagya.
Sutra I:15 – “Vaeragya is the mastery over the craving for what has been seen or heard” (Ravindra 2009, p. 21).
There you have it. When we are constantly reaching outward with the mind, especially during such a season, it is easy to be blown away by our reactions to everything we see and hear. There is so much stimulus and sometimes we even identify with it too closely. We buy in to comments and thoughts and believe they are a true reflection of our deeper identity.
Here are some labels tossed out casual that we may take too much to heart:
The later gift buyer
The single one
At the slightest hint of one of these, we may glom onto self-deprecating thoughts. It is ironic, but we attach ourselves to what we see and hear, even and especially if it is something we don’t want. We may insist we’re:
Waiting to find a gift that’s really unique
Always available to help out last minute
But, really, we don’t need to justify or explain. Just take a moment to recalibrate and reconnect. I think there is a great case for interpreting non-identification as not making up stories about what we think other people mean. Not getting blown away by what we’ve seen or heard. Staying present to who we know ourselves to be, staying present to the steady bank of presence within.
In this spirit, let’s practice that small, but regular effort to come back to the breath, to come back to that settled space within. That’s all we need to do. It’s not a huge add to our list of tasks at this time. Just the small effort to remain present to ourselves. To take a breath. To tuck in our headscarf. To pause with an inner smile.
Here’s to making merry and remaining steady during the holidays.
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