1. Balance indulgence. On days where you are not invited to a holiday party and for the non-party meals the day of the party, choose sattvic (wholesome, light, nutritious) meals. Make some steamed veggies and kitchari. You may even choose to fast on hot water/ginger tea the morning after a particularly large meal to give your digestion a rest. Also, it’s especially important during these times, to ensure elimination is optimal, so that toxicants at least aren’t sticking around that long.
2. Set an intention before each meal. Acknowledge that the primary purpose of eating is for nourishment of the body, choose foods accordingly, and make a silent agreement to stop eating when the purpose of nourishment is achieved. This is a healthy practice regardless of the season, but especially important now when there is a tendency towards emotional eating. Sometimes we eat out of loneliness, boredom, dissatisfaction with where we are in life, habit, or hopelessness. Eat for nourishment and you will feel lighter and more in control of your feelings.
3. Remember that your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you have. This may sound selfish and inconsistent with the holiday spirit, but in order to give your best to others, first you have to be whole. This could mean taking some time away from the group to do a practice that nourishes your unique spirit, such as going for a walk, meditating, some yoga etc. Whether you have people to share the holidays with or not, love and give to yourself. All relationships flower from this foundation. (Also, if you fill yourself with self-love, you will find there is no room for more food than your body needs.)
4. Move. It’s cold outside, and the heaviness and dullness of Kapha is all around you. Balance the stagnation in your environment and get the blood flowing with movement. Sun salutations, which honor and imbue the fire element are great for this. Pick the activity of your choice to feel alive all way out to your fingertips and toes.
5. Create more than you consume. We are afflicted by a mass thought pattern to buy at this time of year. I’m not saying we shouldn’t give gifts, but that we should open our hearts to other ways of giving and receiving. Get creative with presents, such as making gifts if you’re crafty or giving away services where you are skilled. You may have noticed how you feel after an hour or two in a mall or doing online shopping. In creating, we actually build energy, and in consuming, we drain energy. We probably won’t remember a sweater or scarf 10 years from now, but will remember whether we felt happy, loved, and connected. One of the best ways to feel these things is to create together.
6. Don’t sweat the details. In event planning and giving the perfect gift, we can get caught up in a whirlwind of activity and never actually make it to the peace at the center. The most important ingredient for the perfect holiday is love. Only by being in the present can you open yourself up to the opportunity to feel love.