A Holistic Approach to the Holidays
By Bonnie Diamond, Licensed Acupuncturist
Bonnie Diamond has a Masters
Degree in Acupuncture and a private practice in Lexington,
MA. She uses a Japanese treatment style, which relies on
direct feedback from the body and honors the unique qualities
of each individual. Visit her
One of the great strengths of Eastern thought is its ability
to allow for the existence of two opposing forces or ideas at
the same time. With this in mind, I offer you some suggestions
for maintaining balance throughout the holiday season.
My suggestions embrace the notion that the yang side of the holidays
- the parties, eating, gift-giving, decorations and commercialism
- can be balance by the yin side - the soul, the heart and the
connections we have with ourselves, our memories and the people
we care about.
By slowing down a little and paying attention to our inner, yin
side, we can find and create special meaning at this time of year.
Here are some ideas to help you explore ways of doing this. These
are only my ideas. Please take them, mutate them and transform
them into your own.
Expectations run high over the holiday season. We try hard and
mean well. Often the fruits of our labors pay off. The table looks
beautiful. We purchased the perfect gift. Our children/spouses/friends
But once in awhile, we say or do the wrong thing. We arrive late.
We forget someone's name. We become entrenched in old emotions
that shadow a present situation. We become depressed. We feel
By acknowledging our imperfections we uncover our humanity. The
notion of perfection is a human construct designed to cover up
our truest selves. In accepting the self as imperfect we give
others the room to be imperfect as well. We allow for forgiveness
and healing. We bring light to our darker, murkier sides.
Eat for the Soul
Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, your grandmother's
pumpkin pie, Hanukah latkes, Christmas cookies, eggnog
Add your own favorites. These are foods we wait an entire year
for. They contain the tastes joyously stored in memories of years
gone by. These are the foods that speak to our souls. There is
room in our stomachs for the comfort foods of our youth during
the holiday season. The saturated fats, sugars and calories are
balanced by the joy these foods bring. Happy souls can make for
happy bodies when these foods are eaten in moderation.
Keep the following in mind:
- Small portions satisfy the soul.
- Whole grains, soups, roasted root vegetables and sautéed
greens are high in nutritional value and can easily be a part
of holiday meals.
- Avoid empty calories - those with no nutritional or emotional
A. Drink seltzer rather than sugary sodas.
B. Resist the candy jar.
C. Give or throw away excess foods.
Remember to eat slowly and relish the special tastes of the season.
This is what holiday food and meals are all about.
Shop From the Heart
Gifts are expressions of love and gratitude. They needn't be
flashy or expensive but they do require some thought about the
person you are giving them to.
- Homemade deserts or crafts offer a personal touch.
- A gift that includes time spent together - a night on the
town, some special activity - can turn into a memory that lives
on for a lifetime.
- When buying gifts for children think of toys or art projects
that you can continue to share after the gift has been opened.
- If you are not sure what to get someone, ask him or her what
he or she would like.
- When shopping pay attention to "knowing it when you see
Whether giving or receiving a gift, connect with the heartfelt
thought that goes along with the present (both the gift and the
moment in time.)
Slow Down and Listen
It's a busy and emotionally laden time of year. It's easy to
hear words and make choices without really listening. Our yin
side is a receptive one. Learn the value of taking in and making
space for what someone else is saying. Learn the value of checking
in and making space for what you are feeling.
- Fully listen to what is being said.
- Look at the person you are talking to - body language speaks
- Wait a moment before responding.
- Clear your mind of background chatter.
- Listen to yourself and politely refuse extra servings that
don't serve you.
As we come together in times of celebration, it is the connections
that we make with each other that are the foundations of the memories
of years to come. By listening more carefully we can create strong
foundations and a lifetimes of memories.
To this season of darkness,
cold and winter the holidays bring light and warmth.
Yin is balanced by yang.
May we all find this balance within ourselves.