Who Went and Put the Holidays Smack Dab in the Middle of Vata Season?
I love this photograph. I took it several years ago when I joined the throngs of people uptown to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and look at the shop windows. It perfectly captures the feeling of chaos that I’ve always felt this time of year.
When I was studying Ayurveda, I started to think about the irony of the major holidays falling during Vata season (in the Northern Hemisphere where I live).
As soon as Halloween was over I’d feel myself slowly filling with panic and dread. Thanksgiving was on the horizon. And then Christmas.
The holidays seem to be all about staying organized, time management, scheduling, and upsetting your regular routine. Ayurveda finally made me understand why the holiday months have always derailed me.
All of those qualities that help to make this time enjoyable and minimally stressful are, unfortunately, not characteristics of Vata dosha.
Vata-types often tend to be disorganized, creative, fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants people, and extremely prone to depletion.
Of course, there are exceptions, and many of us have constitutions that are dual-doshic or tri-doshic. But for someone with a lot of Vata in their constitution, this time of year can seem impossible to endure. Vata-types can feel chaotic and unhinged even on days when there’s no holiday in sight.
So, how do Pitta-types handle the holidays? Well, they are generally the most organized of the doshas. Although Pitta-types can be overworked and overstressed (many Type A’s are Pitta), and we live in a very Vata-paced world, they at least have the skills to get through.
They might have their shopping done months ago, cookies are baked and in the freezer and the tree is bought and decorated.
They attack their to-do list with a vengeance.
And what about the beloved Kapha-type? Well, they might not be as motivated as the Pitta-type or disorganized as the Vata-type, but what is most important to them is family.
So the holidays can either fill them with joy or depress them, depending on the state of affairs in their family. A kapha-type can easily slip into depression if they find themselves alone during the holidays.
If we can take a moment to understand each other better based on our constitutions, the holidays just might be a little less stressful and more enjoyable for all of us.
I admit that I feel a certain tenderness for my fellow Vatas during the holiday months. Being creative types we find ourselves in a dilemma – we love the twinkling lights, the music, the sights and smells of the holidays – but we often lack the energy or skills to navigate them successfully.
These days I face the holidays with a new sense of understanding, freedom, peace, and CALM.
Thanks to Ayurveda, once I recognized these differences for what they are (our constitutions never change) I was able to let go of unrealistic expectations I had put on myself.
I don’t bake cookies or send cards or even buy many gifts anymore.
I don’t buy a Christmas tree and last year I didn’t put up one decoration.
It seemed criminal at first when one by one I dropped these to-dos from my list.
Now, it feels downright liberating.
I want to be slowing down, hibernating, not in a state of chaotic consumerism and seasonal activities that I just don’t enjoy anymore.
Ok, I confess. I love the smell of Pine and I’ll probably grab some cut branches from the farmer’s market.
But, my big goal this year is to let go of the guilt that I’m disappointing family and friends.
It’s no coincidence that this time of year is ripe with spiritual gifts. The veil between our world and the spiritual world is very thin now and it’s a time for deep meditation, reflection, and dreaming.
Vata-types tend to be rather intuitive, tuned-in, and spiritual. They often live more comfortably “in the clouds” rather than grounded in this world. This is even more pronounced during Vata Season.
Please nurture the Vata-types in your life a little extra during the holidays. Cook for them, hug them, lighten their load, keep them warm and be understanding of their limitations during this challenging time.
If you have a Kapha-type in your life, make an extra effort to spend family time with them and be vigilant for signs of depression.
I love this quote by a dear friend of mine:
“The number one reason I hear each day that is causing too many of us stress is feeling like we have too much to do. In some cases, some of these things are necessary. In many cases, we take things on or convince ourselves the task is a must, when in truth no one will die if we don’t do it nor will you be liked any less. AND, as you let go of having to do it all, you create space for others to take on these tasks. Just remember, they may not do it exactly like you; that’s another topic for another day.” —Jennifer Bolus
Please don’t take this as holiday bashing. I have friends and family who LOVE the holidays. If they feed your soul that is a gift!
My friend, Monica, cannot wait until the day after Thanksgiving when she can play holiday music with abandon. And her Italian-style Christmas Day luncheon which she so graciously invites me to every year is, well, you have to be there to experience it. 🙂 It’s epic chaos, all coming from a place of love.
Meanwhile, I’ll be popping in and out of my cave this holiday season. I plan to re-read “Little Women” for the umpteenth time and maybe watch some old movies. But, I’ll definitely be honoring my own energy and not caving in to any outside pressure.
Wishing you all a calm, stress-free and happy holiday season!
P.S. Unsure what your Ayurvedic constitution is? Click here
Note: This article was originally published on 11-19-2016 and has been edited to include my present-day reflections.