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Before we turn the page on 2011… Let’s take stock.
No need to get too-heavy here, just acknowledging how far we’ve come, and where we’d like to go. It’s best to keep this somewhat lighter, and fun.
Carve out 20 – 40 minutes for this meditation & writing exercise:
Make a cup of tea, get a nice pen, three pieces of paper, and a pad of post-its. Find a quiet place where you can sit.
Light a candle, and get comfortable. Let your breath smooth out and slide into meditation for a few minutes…
Once in quiet – creative space, reflect on your experience of 2011. Let your mind drift through the past year, the milestones that have passed, the highs and lows. Let it all come. Breathe.
Embrace the whole of where you are at in your life right now. Acceptance and appreciation of now, is the base-camp for your journey into 2012.
In bold letters, title the first piece of paper:
What I’m leaving behind in 2011.
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, you won’t have to read this aloud in class. Keep going.
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?
(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 2011.
What has living through 2011 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.
(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 2011 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 2012.
How would envision your ideal life. Again, ponder the facets of your life, Relationships, work, creativity, your home, finances, health, your Yoga practice…
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.
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.. One that sums up this direction you’d like to move in, this quality you’d like to see more of.
Write this theme, Your Mantra for the coming year – nicely on your post-it note.
FInish your tea, slide back into meditation for a few minutes before rising.
Bring your first sheet, and your candle outdoors, or to your fireplace where you can safely burn the list. Make a ritual of this, 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.
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: Write it down – Make it Happen.
It’s been quite a journey for me this year, and I created this writing practice to lighten up, and be more open to the currents of creativity.
Much water has passed under the bridge as they say, and I’ve learned much through love and loss, bliss, good-fortune, and hardship. I have so much to be grateful for – and joyful about.
Not just on New Years, but each day I resolve to do my best. To show up, stay open and love fearlessly, to dust myself off after spectacular failures of my best whole-hearted efforts, and keep going.
I’ll stay in awe of the beauty of the little things in life, and open wide to possibility.
I will try not to be deterred or taken off course by the callousness, doubts, and fears of others. I’ll not limit myself through fear or hesitation, and will lean into uncertainty.
I love the quote about taking the leap… and growing wings on the way down, by Kurt Vonnegut. I know, dramatic, but hey, I’m on a roll here! And I’ve leapt, so he would surely approve.
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. Here’s a printable version for you: Year in review pdf
The people who count on you – are counting on you.
If you have a partner, a family, do it for them. If you’re single, do it for the next person you’ll be in a relationship with. You’ll be clearer, lighter, more open to possibility. I’ll bet you’ll feel it in your asana practice.
You count, you matter, you’re worth this effort. You can make a difference.
it just doesn’t have to be like it was yesterday.
Look around, you are surrounded by people who love you. Will you love them back? open all your doors and let the light in. Tamasoma Jyotir Gamaya.
I look forward to practicing with you all in the New Year. I’ll be teaching our New Years Day class at 9am.
On January 8th, Clarence returns with his gorgeous cello to shake our bones while we practice. Wait till you hear and feel what we’ve been creating together!
There’s no place I’d rather be, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing, so many thanks for your support.
Please forward this to a friend? click the like button, or tweet… Imagine if we all introspected regularly.
May all beings be happy and free. Om Shanti Shanti Shanti…
p.s. by the way, ‘Onward’ is my post-it Mantra for this year. What is yours?
Sunday Morning Yoga class with John
The bending, the hanging,
departure of the clanging,
The mind in a hurry
waiting for the jury,
all that you bury
is going to rise.
Tears from your eyes
the bucket of “my’s”
Open your hands
depart the boarder lands
the body’s strands
Let go of your head,
practice being dead,
make way for surrender,
abandon the pretender.
Arrogance and pride
can no longer hide,
wash it from your face,
join the human race.
The ankles, the wrists, the knees, the pelvis,
what sticks in bending places
likes to swim around.
Blossom out your heart
commence a new start.
The teacher’s voice talking
round the room he’s walking
“Wash your body clean.”
What does he mean?
The yoga scene.
a kirtan dream.
the tunes unwinding
the twists unbinding.
The breathing steady
emptiness is ready
to make the tree pose.
Eyes stay closed
the velvet is yours,
silence goes to town
finally you’re here.
“Sold” by the auctioneer.
Savor the meal,
this is the deal,
On your orange mat
spun out flat,
remember the ember,
the membership is free.
The Weaver and the Loom
Sit here for a bit. Place yourself
outside the frenzied pace of life.
Slow down long enough to
appreciate birds in flight, water
drops like prisms in the grass and
countless shades of green. Step
off the fast track and listen to the
sound of breath and birdsong. Take
a moment to just be, and in the being,
know the whole of this creation,
mystery and madness, passion and
profanity, know it all as one, stunning
tapestry. Sit still and the thin line
between sacred and profane simply
fades away. There is nothing then
to reconcile. All the disparate threads
are woven on the loom of life. Sit here
for a bit and your unique place in the
pattern becomes clear. Take the still
point with you when it’s time to walk
away. Make the choice to see affinity,
to watch the picture taking shape as
thread joins thread. Dare to be the
weaver and the loom, creator and
creation, the sower and the sown.
In a moment of stillness, all that
came before is seen as one.
(a great book for Yogis and for teachers of Yogis.) There’s a long line for the beautiful clothing that BW weaves in Concord at the Emerson Umbrella for the Arts… One thread at a time. She practices with us in West Concord. Thanks B!
Upon her return from our group retreat at Ananda Ashram, Bettina sent me this beautiful poem.
Arriving at the gate.
Wondering what lies beyond.
Here, now, later.
A time for inner silence and reflection.
Awakening to the surrounding sounds.
Sharing experiences in community.
Fire ceremonies mark beginnings and endings.
Meditation practice collectively quiets minds.
Yoga deepening and stretching our beings.
Sanskrit teachings, texts and chants.
Tears flowing as emotions are stirred.
Supportive surroundings offering comfort.
Feelings of being closely held and nurtured.
Opening to transforming possibilities.
Seeing what lies ahead.
Recognizing the bliss in just being.
-Bettina Messana is a Poet – Yogini – and gifted professional organizer. Thanks Bee.
(Click to subscribe to Bettina's daily poems)
Without breaking her stride, she reached out with a long-handled grabber, snatched up a crumpled soda bottle, and deftly stashed it in the bag hanging from her baby stroller. She was serene, in a meditation, leaving a wake of clean behind her.
As she cruised down the street her graceful swooping of trash reminded me of an orchestra conductor’s wave. Captivated, I could almost hear the melody.
It would be much easier for her to walk by the litter, but she collects all in her path. This action of caring coupled with follow-through transforms indifference into making a difference.
The Yogis call this Seva, or selfless-service. Not acting to impress, not for personal gain, but because we care. When we care enough, it takes less energy to act than not to.
My street was better for her having walked it. How many of us can say that about where we've been this week?
We are the epicenter of our community.
Each of our actions, (or inactions) sends a ripple into our world. We don't know how far they go or who they will touch. Once we act, the result is out of our hands.
We best honor our heroes by emulating them.
Later, I walked the parking lot at the Yoga studio, picking up every last bit of trash before going inside to teach. Now it's up to me to pass along her ripple, so… tag, you're it.
Now that the seemingly eternal snow cover has peeled back, the debris of a long winter has been revealed. In the spirit of a cleaner world, why not pick up a few pieces?
I aspire to live more like my neighbor the Trash Lady, to act with skill and caring on what is important to me. To live in Seva.
What matters to you? Will you walk by with indifference or will you make a difference?
I welcome your comments on what matters to you, what you serve.
Om Shanti, I'll see you in class. -j
P.S. I'll be away leading a retreat in a few weeks. Two spots have opened up, and the pre-invite list for the Oct 2011 retreat has us almost full-up, let me know if you'd like to get away for a few days of peaceful Yoga. –j
Namaste, a friend of a friend who's on the ground in Japan sent this note about community and finding bright spots in our lives, no matter what is happening. I though it well-worth sharing with you all, please forward to a few friends, Om Shanti. -j (P.S.) many new books and music added to the fav books link to your left.
One benefit of living on a busy street is that anything put out on the curb is gone in a flash. There's no time to change my mind and get it back.
I've lived in the same place for some time now, and much has accumulated. While I have been open to the new coming into my life, there was no clear path out for what no longer had a place, the flow impeded by sheer busyness, and by my grasping for permanence.
I imagine if Yoga had a currency it would say "In flow we trust" across the top. “let it come, let it go” across the bottom… and of course, a picture of Patanjali in the middle.
Over the last few months I've been earnestly clearing out, I came across a great book which helped me in the process of making space, not just in my home, but in my mind, and in my life: Your Spacious Self: Clear Your Clutter and Discover Who You Are
How can I realize my abundance with all this stuff in the way?
Out onto the curb go the belongings, mementoes, and anchors that no longer serve a purpose, or bring joy. Sometimes I see the new owner from my window, loading my old relics/their new trophies, into their car and driving off. I make sure to wish them both well, the material has become very easy for me to let go of.
It's happening, sometimes it’s scary. I started this outward flow, and who knows how deeply it will go.
We’ve got so much invested in who we think we are, that there’s no room for who we’re becoming.
Old habits, no-longer friendly relationships, ideas, masks, and tendencies are going out onto the curb of my consciousness. Some by choice, some perhaps just getting caught-up in the outgoing tide.
This is formidable, nobody takes these away. They were part of me, they defined me, and I am compelled by their gravitational pull. I’m practicing new ways of being, in hope that they take root.
The old us holds on for dear life, but the bold light of awareness loosens the grip.
As if by providence, I was sent two nutritional cleanse kits. One to give away, and one to try out and evaluate on my blog. They are from DrNatura, the Advanced Internal Cleansing Program.
Between the cleanse, some changed habits, a stronger practice, and a heartbreaking 'growth opportunity' that whacked my appetite, I've shed 18 pounds from my physical body, and much more than that energetically.
I can finally fit into the clothes that I gave away last month.
My part in the economic stimulus will be buying some new clothing. If you happen to make black Vegan tee shirts, expect a surge in sales this coming year.
I feel so far away from my teachers, but can hear them say “keep going.” Forgotten postures are revealing themselves from the dusty corners of my Yoga practice. There’s new space in my music, in my Pranayama.
I'm opening to new ideas in my writing, my practice, and in what I've been offering in classes, and our retreats. I’m bringing vibrant colors into my space, new art, and new possibilities. I’m eyeing a sweet little house that I just may move to.
Trying not to rewind, or fast forward, I sit still, sometimes squirming with what I’m missing, what is no longer. Some things baffle me, and just cannot be figured out, some things are clearly out of my hands. Gate Gate – Para Gate, Parasan Gate – Bodhi Swah. They feel so gone, beyond gone.
As Rilke alludes, “May you someday live into the meaning.”
Loosening my grip I look forward to the new that will surely come… but for now, I'll sit with, and savor this beautiful space. Many thanks for sharing this journey with me.
We don’t have to wait till spring to start cleaning…
Just in time for New Years Resolutions, I’ve got this DrNatura nutritional cleanse to give away to a lucky reader. It’s the #1 rated kit, and has a retail value of $80. Here’s how we’ll do this. Make a comment on this post, let us know what you’re going to let go of in the coming year. A week into the new year I’ll choose one post randomly, and you’ll be well on your way to being shiny inside and out.
Om Shanti, I’ll see you in class, -j
P.S. We’ve got a great class raffle for January. Jason from Revolution Community Acupuncture is awarding one lucky Yogi three healing sessions. 23 chances to win this month. Also, please join us in ringing in the New Year with our Live Music Yoga Class – Sunday January 2nd 9am. West Concord.
Just back from Sunny Florida where I was visiting my father and his wife. Dad's great, and it's uncanny how much like me he's become over the years. Thursday was 70 degrees, and the bluest of skies. The locals were all bundled up, and thought me "crazy" to be splashing around in the ocean waves.
The wave crashing over my headstand confirmed their suspicions.
Back at Logan airport on Saturday, I stood out in the frigid, biting wind for a good hour waiting for the bus to Framingham. Smiling at the juxtaposition, I practiced my equanimity. Fire and Ice, we've got to at least try and accept it all – embrace it with grace.
Waiting with me were a couple of chain-smoking, real-deal Hells Angels, they in their 'uniforms' and me in mine. They got a kick out of my sandals, and Shiva scarf, while I appreciated that in contrast with their gruffness, they wear angel-wings on their back.
I asked how I could get a vest, Nobody would mess with me!
Reclining in the plush and toasty bus, I was glad to be back, and so grateful for my mindfulness practice. When I'm present to what is, my experience of life is so rich and rewarding, I can see beyond our masks.
Stop here for a moment, notice your breath, notice your posture, notice the tone and quality of your presence. Close your eyes, enjoy this moment for what it is, without having to change what it is.
Yoga practice gives us glimpses of this place, where we are not in memory, not predicting – Not grasping, not resisting, just present.
This is where I want to live, this is why I practice, this is why I teach.
A couple of special events to share with you:
This coming Sunday the 12th – 9am in West Concord – Live Music Yoga Class with Tom Lena
Next Sunday the 19th Restorative Yoga Session with myself and Natalie 12:30pm
I love the teachings of Yoga, and I love sharing them with y'all even more. Our classes exist because of you, and for you.
Om Shanti, I'll see you in class.
PS: Remember Charlie Browns Christmas Tree?
Namaste. Thanks so much for all the well wishes and welcome backs!
I've been on a relatively fast pace since returning from India, and really felt the need to sit in quiet reflection. I headed off to Ananda Ashram for a few days of Mauna, the practice of sacred silence.
Arriving at Ananda is like coming home. No matter where you've been, the ashram always takes you back, and it's like you never left. I always pause at the old iron gates to set an intention for my stay. When I looked inwards, what came back was 'quiet'
Sitting down for my first simple meal, I looked up and there was the radiant Shrimati Kankana Banerjee sitting across from me.
She smiled and said, more as a statement than a question: "You're coming to my class tomorrow?" Before I could even think about an answer, I felt my head nodding yes.
Turns out that Kankana is considered the best vocalist in india and she was at Ananda to teach a weeklong immersion in Classical Indian Singing.
You can't always get what you want.
I was a bit resistant to this idea of not just singing, but singing all-day… I mean, I made my vow not to speak for 3 days, I was committed, or rather – attached to my plan.
After some going back and forth in my mind, I finally surrendered to the new plan, the opposite of what I 'wanted.' That next morning, I fixed myself a really huge mug of green tea and settled in for my first lesson.
But if you try some time.
Kankana played an ancient harmonium, and led us in stringing many single syllables into beautiful – swimming melodies called Ragas.
You just might find.
Practicing the Raga scales is very meditative, There's a true sense of surrender to it She leads, you follow, it's simple, beautiful, and beyond mind.
My friend Kamaniya said "I didn't see you leave, but you were gone for some time, and I saw when you came back into your body. You were different."
You get what you need…
At some point, hours into the practice, I merged with the seductive sounds, sliding into a peace I've never experienced before. Words don't describe this new threshold, so I'll not even try.
Three days of Mauna practice may have been good for me, but surrender to the new plan was even better.
I grapple with decisions sometimes. When faced with several equally nice sounding options, my mind gets all attached, looking for the 'right' decision. Is one ever really more right than the other?
I've got this great opportunity to study with my teachers this October. It will take some effort to travel to Ohio to be with them for a few days. Planes, travel details and expenses… but mostly, being away from the students I'm so blessed to have.
As I churn this choice in my mind, and type this, it seems I still haven't fully grasped this lesson that surrender is best. That things tend to appear right when we need them, and often not in the tidy packages we are looking for.
To make room for them, we sometimes have to un-make our minds. Have you found yourself changing plans midstream, how did it work out?
I'll leave you with this beautiful video of Kankana singing:
Next Saturday August 28th is our free Open Mic Music Night at Yoga and Nia for Life. And note the Live Music Yoga class with special Guest Tom Lena – 9am Sunday September 5th. Om Shanti, I'll see you in class.