“Only love can bring unity and remove the separation between all living beings. Only love purifies the body and mind.”—Swami Kripalu
You may be well along in your holiday gift shopping. But if you’re like me, buying gifts because the calendar says so feels a bit hollow—and you have therefore been dragging your heels. Here are some ways to make giving more meaningful.
Meaning kicks in when you give in a way that’s aligned with your values like, say: stepping lightly on the planet; supporting local and/or small businesses (a.k.a. people following their passions); helping those in need; giving experiences over stuff; tapping your creative juices instead of Amazon.com’s; and more. But it’s also important to stay mindful of the receiver: Just because you think your mom should do yoga, giving her a mat might read as unwelcome pressure.
That said, here are some conscious ways to give:
Forget about enjoying the holidays: More and more, the majority of us just want to make it through. Which is why a meditation practice—proven to counter stress, beat depression and illness, keep energy levels up, and help encourage better sleep—can come in especially handy this time of year. The best part: You don’t need to invest a lot of time or commitment (and, unlike most everything else this season, it’s totally free). Angela Wilson, MA, Manager of Evidence-Based Yoga Curriculum for Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living, offers the following tips for practicing on-the-go mindfulness: no quiet room, dimmed lights, or mat required.
With all the focus on overindulgence—of food and family—we often forget that Thanksgiving is, at heart, a day for giving thanks and being grateful. That said, let’s get back to the food. Some of us choose to “let go,” and eat whatever we want, giving ourselves myriad excuses: It’s tradition, it’s etiquette, it’s just so delicious! But Thanksgiving offers a bounty of ways to enjoy fresh, local vegetables, so while it’s okay to treat yourself, it’s also entirely possible to indulge but not overeat—and, even, put together an optimally nutritious Thanksgiving dinner that sacrifices neither taste nor holiday spirit.
Still, if you can, try to avoid flour and bread products, says John Bagnulo,PhD, MPH, who teaches nutrition in Kripalu’s Healthy Living programs. “This will significantly help reduce the tendency to overeat,” says John. “Grains and flour raise levels of leptin—the hormone that controls appetite and cravings—more than any other food after sugar.” We asked John to share his ideal grain- and cruelty-free Thanksgiving meal.