This holiday season as your family reunites and personalities collide in the living room over a wood burning stove, don’t despair—yoga's Eight Limbs are there for you!
Your family is not the only troubled lot out there, your cousins and siblings are not the only cousins and siblings to torture each other needlessly. AND you need not feed into it! Instead, try to cherish your family members and feel gratitude that you even have a judgmental grandfather to pick apart your vegan apple crisp and call it unworldly names.
This year, follow the traditionally yogic "Eight-Limbed Path" my yogi friends! Take the following steps to avoid family fights when it gets overwhelming and allow the steps to show you how much you can cherish your loved ones, even if you are totally different people, on totally different pages (or planets)!
1) Yamas and 2) Niyamas (Ethics & Morals)
Yes, your ethics and morals might very well be different from your cherished family members. You are not the only person with this issue. However, you are blessed with having family members that are there for the holidays, and you are one of the few lucky ones to have that!
Turn inward for a moment when things get tense (or before) and try to recognize where each of your family members is coming from. Perhaps if you can just see their point of view (regardless if you agree with it or not), then maybe you stand a chance at not feeling like you need to tear their heads off for having an opposing viewpoint, or for doing something that you deem inappropriate.
3) Asana (The Physical Practice)
Do something physical to alleviate your frustrations. Step outside for some fresh winter air. Walk around the entire house. Start peeling potatoes. If you can take a family member with you, even better!
4) Pranayama (Breath)
Breathe before you respond to anything at all. It may sound like a cliché, but it's still effective! You’ve got this. Inhale for 4, exhale for 4. Okay, maybe 8...or 16? Just don't turn blue!
5) Pratyahara (Control Of The Senses)
Listen to what you hear, but also choose what you take on. Just because something is said towards you doesn’t mean it is about you, or that you need to absorb it as yours. Sometimes, people say mean stuff to others that is really a reflection of themselves or of their own insecurity or discontent.
Being able to filter out the pieces of your interaction with them that don’t feed your soul will encourage a better relationship with those family members that are a struggle to be around. It will also make you even more of a pleasure to be around!
Moods are contagious, so filtering out the negative vibes that others put out and only putting forward a positive vibe will in turn make the others around you more positive—you see the circle here?
Help yourself accomplish this by moving around any insults or comments on your lifestyle, pressing your attention deeper towards the areas you like about being around family.
6) Dharana (Concentration & Focus)
Try to find some common ground, and focus on that. Remember that all the frustration you feel towards them may also be reciprocated back at you for the same reasons. Finding some common ground with your family members will help you feel more connected to them, thus will help to prevent you wanting to leave dinner early this holiday season.
7) Dhyana (Devotion and Deeper Meditation)
Consider the ways in which your family members have devoted themselves to you, another family member, the meal they are cooking, their job—something. Despite the arguments and strained relationships on the surface, try to meditate, remember, and hold on to the respect you have for that devotion, then commit your own devotion outwardly towards that respect for them.
8) Samadhi (Union)
Unite with your family for a common cause—head to a shelter and hand out socks, or dish up dinner at a soup kitchen. There's nothing like being around folks who do not have family members to help you cherish the ones you have.
Remember, as much of a pain in the ass as your family members may be, you are lucky to still be able to see them and have them around at this time of the year. So offer drunk uncle Frank a glass of water, and move on from your mother-in-laws' comments on your lifestyle choices. They are family and they do care. Good luck yogis!
Image credit: Kate Swarm