Embracing Stillness Amidst the Holiday Frenzy: A Guide to Self-Love

Woman doing yoga in the morning in sunlight indoors. Healthy lifestyle and self care concept.

Can you feel life speeding up? The days grow shorter. There are more things to do, projects to finish, people to see, dinners to cook, gifts to buy, cookies to bake, friends to call, walkways to shovel, family pets to feed, travel arrangements to change, family to tend to, and worries to worry. We’re smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, and it feels like there is no time for self-care like our yoga classes or meditation practice. Who’s got time to add to the gratitude list when there is so much suffering in the world? Self-love? We have stuff to do! 

The nature of the mind is to flicker. The mind is quite content for us to be busy, busy, busy. It thrives on the hectic pace of the holiday season. But that’s the mind. We identify with every thought our mind has until we learn the important lesson: Don’t believe everything you think. The truth is mind-blowing on purpose: We are not our minds. 

Set a Self-Love Alarm

Concept of time management with the self-love alarm clock

Amid all the tasks and invitations, even those we genuinely want to do or attend, there is always an invitation to be still. It’s hard to hear the invitation above the din. It’s such a tiny whisper. 

Here is an excellent way to amplify the call. Set a Self-Love Alarm. 

Literally, set an alarm on your phone. Or set more than one. I learned this in 2021 from my friend Jennifer. When I took her idea, I set an alarm for every couple of hours. It was brilliant! Now, I have it set only once a day. It’s such a gift! Be sure to set each alarm to repeat daily. Choose a gentle ringtone (I like Twinkle or Slow Rise) for times that fit your schedule: before work or lunch. You know what’s wise. Name the alarm: Self-Love Alarm.

When your Self-Love Alarm rings, pause. Turn off your alarm. Place your hand over your heart center if you like. Breathe in. Feel your chest or belly swell with your breath. Set aside your task or conversation for a moment. Breathe out. Breathe in again, and as you exhale, say aloud a Metta meditation (a Buddhist lovingkindness meditation) of your choosing. 

A Mini Metta Meditation

Concept of meditation and taking the time you need for rest and quiet.

Here are some self-love quotes for starters. You can switch them up as you become more comfortable offering yourself lovingkindness.

May I be healthy.

May I be filled with lovingkindness.

May I be free from suffering.

May I be safe.

May I know the joy of a peaceful heart.

May all beings know love and peace.

After some time, you may choose to practice your self-love silently. Silently is not necessarily better or more effective, though it may be more convenient. You will know. 

If you set a morning alarm to wake up for your day, you may be familiar with the snooze button. Your Self-Love Alarm is a quieter wake-up call. Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh taught, “Listening to the bell, I feel my sorrow begin to dissolve, my mind calms, my body relaxes. A smile is born on my lips. Following the sound of the bell, my breath takes me back to the safe island of mindfulness.” There’s no judgment about needing an alarm to remember. You won’t need to press the snooze button because returning to the moment will become a sweet invitation.

Your Self-Care Practice Becomes Grounded

Close up image of smiling woman in making a heart shape with hands - Pretty joyful hispanic woman laughing. Healthy lifestyle, self-love and body care concept

Give yourself a holiday gift. Create a new habit where you grant yourself a moment here and there each day to start by stopping. After a while, you may find yourself intuiting that your alarm will ding soon. It will become regular to pause and offer yourself kindness and love. 

Practicing self-care in this small, profound way will feel gradually more natural. It may lead you on a journey toward a more formal Metta meditation. It will allow you more experience listening to your true voice—the one that’s kind to you—which will naturally lead to your observation that your busy mind can sit the heck down more often so you can be present in each moment. 

Happy holidays! May we all know love and peace. 

Sarah Bell

Sarah Bell (ERYT-500, YACEP) has been teaching yoga for more than twenty-five years. She was on the faculty of the Yoga Works Teacher Training Program for fifteen years, having trained hundreds of teachers in both the 200-hour Introductory Courses and the 300-hour Professional Programs throughout the country and abroad. She is the creator of Speaking of Yoga, a voice and communication course for yoga teachers, as well as Beyond the Postures, a  course that introduces yoga philosophy, anatomy, pranayama, and meditation to curious yoga practitioners. She mentors yoga teachers along the path as they find their voice and refine their skills. For more information on her upcoming retreats, courses, and classes, find her at www.sarahbellyoga.com

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