Whether or not you celebrate a winter holiday, the season can hold events that you might have expectations about or that push a few buttons. Family, weather, gift exchanges and travel are just a few things that you may  encounter. While it’s easy to get caught up in a state of stress or anxiety, it is possible to refocus and chill out (pun intended).

In my yoga class this fall, we reviewed the “yamas and niyamas” – 10 areas of study or disciple described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. One of these practices is contentment, or santosha.

Contentment comes from welcoming what is present, regardless of whether it fits our ideas about what will make us happy.  – Charlotte Bell, from Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life

With practice, we can teach our mind to be less reactive, calmer, and more appreciative of the moment. Ways to try this out include taking a moment to breathe before reacting to a situation. We might try questioning our view of a situation – being open to other interpretations, trying to see it from another person’s point of view or having our baseline assumption be that people act from their best intention. Meditation or keeping a gratitude journal may help calm and refocus our thoughts in a more positive direction.   I work on cultivating contentment and find it useful to have a reminder about it every now and then.

Best wishes for a safe and content 2013!


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