December is a special month. It holds the spirit of Christmas. You don’t have to string up lights, just light the lamp in your heart. You don’t have to wear fancy clothes, just wear a smile on your face. And as my experiences deepen, I’m beginning to understand that we don’t really need time, we need to be all there in each present moment and that present moment is life. In fact, let us together use this very moment to silently, gratefully, peacefully contemplate on being blessed with more health than illness, more comforts than pains, more beauty than squalidness, more acceptance than condemnation. Ah! See how this moment glows. How the inner lights come on one by one! Recently, a friend, a young mother, underwent surgery to remove a painful lump of accumulated milk from her breast. She said never had she valued more all that she had, including her physical and mental resilience to bounce back.

When I stand in the sunlight pouring into our living room and do my stretches with springs, I give thanks with every stretch that I have the strength and ability to exercise. Feeling the muscles in my arms, shoulders and chest expand is physical nirvana. To exercise is to unlock a beautiful treasure of wellness. Moving the body rhythmically and continuously has a positive effect on the mind too. You think less of shortcomings and shortfalls, and more about the ongoing gains, the good stuff happening in benign continuum…

People stiffen from lack of exercise and fall ill from lack of something to live for. I suggest: find that something in key areas:

In work, search out something significant in it. In love, care and do thoughtful things for another person. In your self, continually renew and re-invent your being in health, in peace, in harmony. In setbacks, look at them as crossroads to pause, ponder intelligently and choose the path that gives joy. In life, create a life you love. Preferably, include reading inspirational books, spending time with Nature, swimming intoxicatedly in music…

December is a wonderful time to recreate your life. The secret is to be both gentle and firm with yourself. Be gentle and enjoy eating the food you love; be firm about keeping the portion moderate. This is important to lose weight or maintain weight-loss. In a sense, you are bringing up the child in you and, this time, doing it right. Overeating and guilt are bedfellows. Guilt creates stress and stress makes the body release hormones that call for sweet treats; then sweets trigger the hormone insulin that stores fat in the body. And boom! you’re up by a few kg. So, the best stress-preventer is firmness at the start.

The second step is to widen, deepen your sense of comfort. There is life, a deeply interesting, absorbing and comforting life beyond comfort foods. Things don’t go your way and you’re upset? Dive into a jigsaw puzzle. Walk long and strong. Discuss philosophy with friends. Meditate. In sum, get up, create the circumstances you find interesting and live beyond the limiting fences of food.

Use the December spirit to forge a kinder, gentler ethos at the workplace too. After all, that’s where we spend our maximum waking hours. Try these:

Reassurance. Any crisis calls for reassurance. Don’t entertain rumours. Instead, sit with your department. There’s safety and security in being together. Meditate together and ensure that each feels the other is there for him/her.

Acknowledge constantly each person’s contribution with sincere appreciation. Foster bonding rather than competition between members. Competition merely breeds greed and perverts the intellect. When the energy of ambition is channelled into nurturing, there is greater success and abounding joy in one another’s achievements.

Encourage one another to exercise regularly, eat sensibly, keep the mind full of positive thoughts. Share inspiring quotes and live by them. I have personally experienced that an ambience of sweet cooperation does improve your health tremendously. Also, when you stop judging your boss/ management/ colleagues/ job/ work, you free up a lot of space and time to love them. There is anecdotal evidence of how holding a grudge has caused painful polyps, unresolved anger has brought on cardiac arrests and resentment has brewed rheumatoid arthritis.

When we go into emotional tailspins, we actually begin a war with and within our body. That’s why, I believe in simple little practices done daily to create peace with and within the body:

Let a continuous chain of pleasant thoughts flow through your mind all day. Refuse the unpleasant.

Spend five minutes ousting your pet peeves. Think of each and say, “Out!”

Consciously forget all negative backtalk you’ve heard during the day. Glean only the good and let it freshen your mind.

Freedom from illness, from sadness, from tensions, from frictions is possible. And December whispers, “It’s Christmas! Start the merry healing process!”

The writer is co-author of the book ‘Fitness for Life’.