Advent for me is a precious time but it’s also the time when even those most established in their yoga practice look at me with hint of hysteria, crying off from class to watch school plays, partake in late night shopping or revel at the work party. Yes, it’s busy. A time of excitement, of sparkling preparations and of sumptuous decoration as we move towards a wondrous celebration of the birth of the son of God or for those of us with a more celtic vibe, a conscious connection with the universal truth of the seasons and the winter solstice. Buying presents for our loved ones, our thoughts are transported away from personal agendas to anticipating their delight. We reach out, metaphorical arms that extend into our community, towards our family and around our heart tribe.
Traditionally, early christians used this time as a time of fasting and intense prayer, a Christmas lent if you like, which is a challenging thought as the diary fills with social commitments and the kitchen drawers are overflowing with mince pies. Perhaps, like me, you might want to abstain from supper once or twice a week, just to practice a little restraint at what can become for us a time of gluttony and excess in our modern lives. “Advent is the perfect time to clear and prepare the Way. Advent is a winter training camp for those who desire peace. By reflection and prayer, by reading and meditation, we can make our hearts a place where a blessing of peace would desire to abide.” Edward Hays – A Pilgrim’s Almanac.
Now, more than ever you benefit from even a little time on your yoga mat. Inspired by this special time here’s an advent meditation practice, giving you space to flourish into the season, nurturing peace and goodwill to yourself and your fellow man or woman. This is your gift to yourself – forgive the cliche!
Settle yourself on the earth, sitting in a comfortable way. Closing your eyes, come to rest your attention on the breath. As you breathe in say PEACE internally to yourself and on the out breath say GOODWILL. Work with this for between 5 – 10 minutes.
Savasana: lie down and allow yourself to be become cocooned in love. Visualise all the sweet energy that others are sharing in the world right now as they write their cards, choose their gifts, donate to just causes and think of others. Rest at the shores of this ocean of love and let it lap gently over you. After 5 minutes or so, unwrap yourself and come to sitting.
Prayerful closing: Sitting. Take your hands into the prayer position above your head. Draw them down towards you, pausing in front of your mind for goodwill in your thoughts, your throat for peace in your words and your heart for love, which is the sprit of the season. Bow to yourself.