Among other things, this time of year can be challenging because it is a time of great expectations. We have expectations for what time with family will be like, expectations for how restful/productive days off will be, expectations for gifts, and so on. For those on an academic calendar, these holiday time expectations are joined be a series of end-of-semester related expectations, grades, course evaluations, confronting tasks that were (or were not) completed over the semester's run.
The emotional partner to expectation is very often disappointment. Things often don't turn out the way we imagine them in our heads, and even if things turn out well, or fine, the failure to match up to expectation can make the good or the fine feel miserable.
Ram Dass's old title Be Here Now is a good reminder for this time of year. Expectation and its quick curdling into disappointment are ways of not appreciating the now.
Failing to appreciate the now can also be devastating in its aftermath--where did the break go, why didn't I enjoy my time with family?, I'm not ready to go back to work!
While it doesn't solve all things, a simple gratitude practice can help temper expectation and put focus on the fine or good things worth appreciating.
Here's a little pose and mantra to give a try:
1. Get into a comfortable child's position, bottom resting on heels (or a pillow, if your bottom doesn't reach your heels)
2. Rather than placing palms down on the floor (as is traditional), flip the palms up to take a gesture of humility
3. As you inhale, think, "I inhale gratitude; as you exhale, think, "I exhale expectation"
4. Repeat for at least a minute
5. Apply throughout the holiday season
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