We’ve been doing this writing exercise for years, I’m dusting it off, updating a bit and reposting, I hope you do it, you’ll be glad you did: (scroll to the end for a printable version)
Before we turn the page on 2014… Let’s look back. It’s usually best to keep this somewhat lighter, and fun. In our our often loud and outward facing world, here is a quiet – inward journey. There’s no one, or no need to impress.
Can you carve out 10 –20 minutes for this meditation & writing exercise?
Make a tea, or pour a glass of something nice to sip, get a nice pen, three pieces of paper, a pad of post-its, perhaps your calendar. Find a quiet place where you can sit.
It’s okay to skip this part, but if you keep a calendar or appointment book a brief skim can jog our memory as to how much has passed this year.
Light a candle, and get comfortable. Let your breath smooth out and slide into meditation for a few moments…
Once in quiet space, reflect on your experience of 2104. Let your mind drift through the past year, the milestones that have passed, the highs and lows. Let it all come. Breathe.
Imagine wrapping your arms around the whole of who you are, and where you are at right now. Acceptance and appreciation of now, is the base-camp for your journey into 2015. In bold letters, title the first piece of paper:
What I’m leaving behind in 2104.
Inhale….Exhale… Start writing… Don’t stop, judge, or filter in any way. Get it onto the page. What are you so-done with? What will not survive the strike of midnight on December 31st?
Explore the facets of your life. Home, career, relationships, (might need more paper!) health, behaviors. Then get into the energetics. List your done-with fears, doubts, hesitations, and grudges…
No, this is not like a facebook post, where millions cultivate a sparkling image of themselves. And no, you won’t have to read this aloud in class, so be a true story to yourself here.. as it is, not how you wish it to be… Keep writing. This is Vinyasa writing.
Have you been unkind or hurt anyone? Apologize. Has anyone treated you unkindly – unfairly? Forgive them. Make amends, Make your peace. List your disappointments, and how you’ve disappointed others. Where are you kidding yourself? put it down.
(Breathe) Are you still carrying that bad habit? You know the one, the one you said you were done with last year. Go ahead and write it down. These ripples end here…
Phew. Still with me? great. Onward. In bold letters across the top of the second sheet, write:
How i’ve grown and what I’ve learned in 2104.
What has living through 2104 revealed to you? What have you accomplished in the different areas of your life? how have you grown, what have you’ve learned, especially those tougher lessons. are you evolving?
(breathe, steady and evenly) What obstacles have you overcome… what have you gained? Where have you surprised yourself in your strength?
What are the important changes you’ll bring forward into the new year. What are the high points, peak moments, sweet memories you’ll savor?
Take some time with this, We’ll squeeze every last bit of goodness from 2104 before moving on. These waves live on.
You’re doing great. Keep going! Here’s where it gets fun. Label the third sheet:
I’m happy – healthy and thriving in 2105.
How would envision your ideal life. Again, ponder the aspects of your life. Relationships, work, creativity, your home, finances, health, your Yoga practice…
How do you feel in your body? Do you take in clean wholesome food, drink filtered water? Get exercise? What is your energy level…if your body had a charge indicator like your cellphone, what would it read? It’s really important to visualize not just the results, but you putting in the efforts, you doing the work. And therein lives the shift.
Do you take time to contemplate, to meditate, time in nature, when is the last time you learned something new? How do you truly nourish yourself?
Can you feel the interconnectedness of all life and energy, do you have a deepening spiritual practice, a belief about how you fit into this mystery we’re living? Make a Spiritual Bucket List as to how will you honor your individual and universal connection.
And the innermost self, when was the last time you were really happy? Had a good laugh? can you find inspiration in the simplest of things? Do you spend time in wonder and awe… in gratitude? What do you truly appreciate about this gift of this life?
Is there any part of you that is yearning for nourishment?
Write in positive and present tense, like it is already your reality, How will you feel? Describe in detail your day, from rising after a great nights sleep, your meditation, your breakfast… to the work you will do, to the beauty you’ll experience, all the way to tucking yourself in… Or being tucked in… content and slipping off into peaceful sleep… after a day of shaping your reality. Can you see all this as preparing to bring your gifts and talents to the world in true service? Cause that’s where the juice is.
Take a break, sip some tea, then meditate on this visualization, allow it to saturate you.
let a word or simple phrase of summary come to you.. A word that sums up this direction you’d like to move in, a quality you’d like to see more of in your life.
Write this theme, Your Mantra for the coming year – in your best penmanship on your post-it note. (or maybe upgrade to card stock and a tasteful frame for it.) Finish your tea, slide back into meditation for a few minutes before rising. This is the work of a spiritual warrior. Well done.
Bring your first sheet, and your candle outdoors, or to your fireplace where you can safely burn the list. As your paper turns to ash, state: “I _______ release these qualities and experiences from my life…. and shed these anchors for real. So be it, cause I said so, Swaha!”
The second and third lists you’ll read once more, then tuck away. Reflect on them in in a month or two, You just may need a refresher to get back on track.
Stick the post-it Mantra on your bathroom mirror, or a place where it will be the last thing you see before you go to sleep, the first thing you see before starting your day. Read it while you brush your teeth, ponder it for the full two minutes. (you do brush for two minutes right?)
Putting pen to paper, and writing intentions seems to work. We leap from, “I might want to think about maybe making this change someday, to “I’m doing this!” For more on these practices of writing down our intentions, check out the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
Not just on New Years, but each day I resolve to do my best. To show up, stay open, to bring my best, and to learn from failure… dust myself off and keep going. I’ll not limit myself through fear or hesitation, and will lean into uncertainty.
I’ll stay in awe of the beauty of the little things in life, and open wide to possibility.
I love the quote about taking the leap… and growing wings on the way down, by Kurt Vonnegut. We need to leap often.
Of the thousands who will read this post in the next few days, how many will actually try the exercise? It’s up to you.. Nobody can do it for you. But I plead with you, I challenge you. Get three pieces of paper and invest some time in You.
Do it for the people who count on you, and all beings that you cross paths with.
Please forward this to a friend? click the FB like/share button, email or tweet… Imagine the world we’d live in if more of us practiced mindfulness, and tended our inner worlds?
Here’s the printable version: year in review 2014 pdf
May all beings be happy and free. Om Shanti Shanti Shanti… -john
P.S. I’ll share my word in the comments section, and invite you to as well. We’ll gather for class on New Years Day, 10:30am, otherwise, I’ll see you next year. peace, and thanks. -j
Susan, a student and teacher of Yoga brought her daughter Robin to our West Concord Yoga class a few weeks back. It was great to see them both, as Robin has been serving in the Peace Corps for three and a half years.
I’d often get updates from her mom after our weekly classes, How Robin’s adventure in service was unfolding, but wanted to hear more of this extraordinary story. I asked her to share the experience with us and she said “Yes, of course.”
It is Mothers like Susan, and young people like Robin DeSantis that give me hope for our future. I hope you enjoy this conversation. Thank you Robin, you inspire us all. -j
j: Welcome back, some of us wondered if you’d decide to stay forever… What do you miss about the Dominican Republic, your chosen family there, and what kept you there for three and a half years?
Robin: I miss the warm, open, generous nature of Dominican people. It could be their only plate of rice and beans for the day, but they would offer it to you as their guest. I miss the “open-door policy” and sense of community that was the nature of my barrio, where if I went unseen for a whole day, at least one of my neighbors would come over to make sure I was alive and well.
I miss going on nature walks with my muchachos and returning home with bags of mangos and cherries and guavas. I miss the rain on my tin roof and the bachata on my neighbor’s radio. And while I hated it at the time, I sometimes miss being the only gringa in town, considered to be a compendium of knowledge with the answer to all of life’s questions. It was like being famous!
As a Youth Development Volunteer, I organized youth groups with children of all ages and taught arts and crafts, literacy, HIV/AIDS prevention, female empowerment, ballet, and even yoga! The typical Peace Corps Volunteer serves for 27 months, or a little over two years, but I enjoyed the work and the people so much that I extended for an additional year and then some.
Needless to say, my transition home after nearly four years immersed in another culture has not been the smoothest ride.
j: Hardly a comparison to your odyssey, but having my share of third world travels, I remember the generosity well, and the often unwelcome ‘fame’ that comes along with being the only caucasian in the village. This one family in India insisted that I sleep in the only bed in the house… while they all slept on the floor. Can you offer your impression as to the accelerating velocity of the culture you came home to?
R: I came home to a closet full of clothes and a bedroom full of knickknacks and felt overwhelmed by the quantity of “stuff” I owned, considering I had gotten used to living with much less. My first time back in a supermarket was equally overwhelming, what with so many different brands and variations of products lining the shelves. It all seemed excessive.
Then, I had to learn how to use a smart phone, because suddenly I was expected to respond to emails without hesitation and understand references to different apps and expressions of a new age of social media.
This has been one of the bigger culture shocks for me, as we have become increasingly more connected to the cyber world, and sometimes I even fear we are forgetting the ways of simple human interaction.
There was something truly refreshing about having minimal access to the internet for over three years. I believe I appreciated the people around me that much more.
Next, I had to come up with a creative answer to the ever-popular question, “What do you do?” Sure, it’s a safe conversation starter, but I hadn’t had to answer that question in a while and wasn’t prepared to answer it in one short sentence.
Generally speaking, Dominicans are more concerned with the health and happiness of one’s family or the condition of one’s garden, while Americans tend to be more curious as to a person’s profession, perhaps because work consumes much (arguably too much) of our time.
Finally, I had to forgive friends and family back home for not fully understanding my experience abroad and newfound perspective. Especially those who never had the opportunity to visit me in the DR or did not know exactly what questions to ask me – it was not fair for me to get frustrated by their unfamiliarity with the foreign culture that I had come to know as my own.
It was only my duty to share those experiences with them to the best of my ability, as I had shared my American culture with my Dominican neighbors.
j: I’ve read about recent immigrants to our country sobbing at their first supermarket experience. They just cannot comprehend all the food. Oh, and I hear you on the smart phone phenomenon along with expected constant connection, and immediate response. I’m still holding out, and love my dumb phone, though I know that eventually I’ll have to get on board, or drop out completely.
I love what you shared about Dominicans being concerned about health and the wellness of their garden. I have that here at the Stow Community Gardens, where the customary greeting is: ‘How’s it growing?’ How about one piece of advice you’d give to a young person considering Peace Corps service?
R: Go for it.
I would recommend the Peace Corps to anyone with an interest in seeing the world through a new lens and leaving a positive impact, whether big or small, on a disadvantaged community. In some ways, I believe I learned more from my Dominican neighbors than they learned from me, but I am most proud of the relationships I formed and the cultural boundaries I overstepped.
My perspective is forever changed as I recognize the value of my education and appreciate even more the small things (hot showers, flushing toilets, and reliable electricity, to name a few) that many people here often take for granted. I am grateful to my family for having supported me throughout – especially as I kept extending my stay!
j: This is quite a story Robin, while your mom would give me updates on your adventure after Yoga classes over the years, I had no idea of the scope of your experience till we started this conversation. Any idea what’s next for you?
R: I am currently working as an Artful Healing Educator with the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, teaching visual arts to patients in local healthcare facilities.
I hope to continue similar youth and community development work in the future with one of many socially conscious non-profit organizations in Boston. And as soon as I figure out logistics (i.e. funding), I hope to realize my idea for a social art project/documentary studying human happiness and culture here in Boston as compared to that of my community in the Dominican Republic.
j: Robin, Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences with us. I’m so inspired by your service, your sacrifices, and your families support of your mission in the Dominican Republic. If there’s anything I can do to help your vision of this documentary that I am sure you will manifest, please let me know.
R: For those interested in contributing to transformative education programs for at-risk youth in the Dominican Republic, check out The DREAM Project Volunteer or donate today!”
Here’s the recipe for Larch’s calming soup that I read in our Yoga class last week…. there’s a link to a printable version below. enjoy!
The most important ingredient is the calm mind of the cook.
I suggest these thoughts:
There is nothing to be done.
It is all covered.
You do not need to worry.
You will get exactly what you need in every moment of your life.
Your Great Perfection, liberating you into the Light, is already accomplished.
Center your breath in the Heart making the sound of “Ahhh” and be grateful.
Trust Spirit, put “other” in place of “self” and breathe deeply, relaxing into the Great Presence.
Now make a peaceful soup:
The order is this: Heat water (3-4 quarts)
Add seaweed Soup Mix (a teaspoon per serving) (to make a nutrients-dense broth)
Note, if you’re not ready for the awesomeness of seaweed, use a veggie broth, or bullion…
Wash grain (three times), swirl and strain, (half a cup oats, rice, or barley.)
Add grain, shiitake mushrooms, ginger root.
Cut root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, rutabaga.)
Dice an onion and some garlic, saute’ with thyme. (Choose your favorite oil: sesame, olive, coconut.)
When grain is softened, add root vegetables, tamari. Finish off with a generous amount of greens: Kale, parsley, celery.
Add the onions. If you have fresh herbs, now is the time!
This soup gets better on the second day, and you can add pasta sauce, noodles, and cut corn, totally renewing the flavors. Enjoy!
Rest in the light, abide in the heart,
-Larch Hanson www.TheSeaweedMan.com say hello for me if you place an order.
There you have it. I love cooking with sea vegetables, and make Larches soup often. I like to add Burdock root, lots of mushrooms, and chili peppers… floating a dollop of flax seed oil on the top…
Let me know if you have any questions about cooking with sea vegetables, and as Larch ships in bulk, Perhaps we could put a group order together. Let me know in the comments if you’d like to be part of a seaweed buyers club. Peace, -john
p.s. We’ve got one spot left in our Concord Live Music Restorative Yoga class, Once full, I’ll start a wait list, along with a list of those interested in a monthly restorative Yoga class. This Yoga is deep nourishment and a great gift to ourselves.
click recipe for a calming soup pdf for a printable version of the recipe.
Namaste, I hope that you can join us for this special treat. Amongst the ethereal backdrop of nine beautiful singing bowls, I’ll guide you through a series of deeply relaxing supported Yoga postures, culminating in a guided whole-being relaxation called Yoga Nidra.
No experience needed, and while all are welcome, space is limited. To reserve your spot you could bring payment to your weekly class, mail to me, or I’ve enabled a paypal link on my events page if you’d like to use a credit card.
If you have your calendar handy, on Christmas day we’ll gather at 9am for class, and New Years Day, at 10:30am.
Peace, and thank you for your support. john
What an incredible Fall we’re having! Yesterday, out walking in the mildest November day I can recall – the last of the leaves were surrendering as I tended to the last few root crops still in the cooling earth. Sweet Potatoes, Burdock Root, an abundance of leeks and Jerusalem artichokes…. Gratitude just couldn’t wait for Thursday.
Here is one the great loves of my life sporting her finest Fall sweater:
Soon, the last of her blood-red leaves will return to the soil and she’ll stand vigil, stripped naked to the elements – beautiful as ever, while the wheel turns patiently towards the budding spring.
The all-pervading beauty appears in clever disguises. Often. Be still, and drop into that great presence where the seemingly ordinary moments – reveal their extraordinary nature.
We lower the bar as to what brings us to joy, simply by noticing more.
On Thanksgiving morning you’re welcome to join our 9am-10:15 Peaceful Yoga class in West Concord. And looking ahead, We’ll also gather at 9am on Christmas Day morning. On New Years day we’ll start a little bit later, how does 10:30am sound?
Enjoy your day of giving thanks.
peace, light and love, I’m grateful for your support and kind words of thanks and encouragment.
p.s. Stay tuned for a few exciting new offerings in the works. I’ll share the news soon.
I hope that you’re enjoying these amazing days as we ease into Fall as much, (or more!) as I am
Our Harpist had a double booking, and had to postpone her coming to play for us. I’m so happy to share that Bernadette Yao will step in, bringing her amazing guitar and beautiful vocals, offering sacred sounds for us to practice to.
I’ve got a few of Bernadette’s cd’s and love playing her music in class, It will be sweet to have her back! This all-levels class starts at 9am in West Concord this coming Sunday, Please come a bit early so we can get started right on time?
I’ve had a few requests to restart our Sunday Noontime class on the Concord/Maynard/Acton line, and have reached out to the owner of that beautiful space overlooking the River to see if that is possible.
Please let me know if a Sunday Noontime class would interest you?
thanks so much, and I’ll see you in class.
P.S. Remember to fill out your raffle ticket each class for a chance at winning this top of the line Yoga mat that Barefoot Yoga Company sent me.
Namaste and Happy Solstice!
I’ve been totally humbled… I was feeling great, my practice strong, near top condition, flexible, and had boundless energy in preparing my gardens.
Then, A sweet potato planting mishap left me with a tiny, less than 1/4 inch cut on the top of my foot.
This little cut has been my teacher through quite a journey into the healing process. This little cut has shown me the strength of the human immune system, my ability to be with discomfort, and surrender to the wonders of modern medicine via four days in the hospital.
I embrace it all, to see the good and the bad, and the good in the bad. Resilience is one word that comes to mind.
This cut is a window, that has allowed me to meet some of the most present and compassionate people I have ever known.
This window has reinforced in me how family, friends, and community are the most important things.
That in accepting help, you allow the helper to serve, to express and nourish their caring nature…. So healing for both involved.
and much more as I live into the unfolding of now.
I am feeling much better after a week of mostly rest, and look forward to our peaceful 9am Sunday morning Yoga class tomorrow, followed by our weekly schedule of classes.
Thanks for all your well-wishes and helpful encouraging words, Here’s hoping that you are well, and I’ll see you in class.
in light, love, and gratitude,
p.s. We’re restarting our class raffle, wait till you see the awesome top of the line Yoga mat that Barefoot Yoga sent me to give away to one lucky student.
Namaste, by request, I’m sharing the poem I read in class last Sunday. It was read at a very beautiful wedding ceremony between an apple farmer, and a potato farmer… that I was honored to be a part of.
(p.s. our Sunday Noontime Yoga class is Acton is now on hiatus for a few months.) Enjoy these words to live by… Om Shanti, I’ll see you in class. -j
A Blessing for The Journey
Let us vow to bear witness to the wholeness of life,
realizing the completeness of each and every thing.
Embracing our differences,
I shall know myself as you,
and you as myself.
May we serve each other
for all our days,
here, there, and everywhere.
Let us vow to open ourselves to the abundance of life.
Freely giving and receiving, I shall care for you,
for the trees and stars,
as treasures of my very own.
May we be grateful
for all our days,
here, there, and everywhere.
Let us vow to forgive all hurt,
caused by ourselves and others,
and to never condone hurtful ways.
Being responsible for my actions,
I shall free myself and you.
Will you free me, too?
May we be kind
for all our days,
here, there, and everywhere.
Let us vow to remember that all that appears will disappear.
In the midst of uncertainty,
I shall sow love.
Here! Now! I call to you:
Let us together live
The Great Peace that we are.
May we give no fear
for all our days, here, there, and everywhere.
– Sensei Wendy Egyoku Nakao.
Mikhail Sadovnikov spins wet clay for us, the last sequence of sculpture is amazing… I found this mesmerizing and hand to share. Enjoy, -j