HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE
The sun has begun it’s journey towards the northern hemisphere and still it’s dark in the morning when I arise. My intellect knows the light is growing and spring and summer are on their way, but still, it’s dark and I wonder: where is that sun? As I question the growing light of each day I also question the growing light or growth within my own journey. Sometimes it isn’t easy to experience inner growth. The familiar habits that impede still appear to take center stage. So though we sense change is happening we may not have a tangible experience of progress.
I believe it is our wish for change that encourages us to make New Year’s resolutions, whether we acknowledge them or not. There is something about the beginning of a year that calls us to think of a new start, a change we wish for, a longing to strengthen or cultivate a new perspective, skill, attitude or way of being in our life. Then the question arises, “How can I really make this resolution come to fruition? Where is my resolve to face the hurdles that have daunted or stopped me before?”
Most of us have tried the ‘grit your teeth and insist that this time will be different than the last‘ approach to New Year’s resolutions. I admit I’m in this category. Each year I secretly intend to make more time for yoga practice, lose 10 pounds, be nicer to myself and others, and find more courage. These are some of my recycled plans that I bring forth this time of year.
A few years ago I did lose 25 pounds and I have made yoga practice more of my daily routine. As I grow older I find many of my doubts and fears on the wane so I am nicer to myself and others. Still, there are many resolutions that have gone by the wayside as the march of months goes by. So what will make this year different?
In recent months I have found books on my shelf that, once dusted off, have given me insights to address this question: Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron, A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield, and No Boundary by Ken Wilber. In my reading I have once again remembered that everything is here now, there isn’t anything outside myself that I must get. But not to be naive, I know saying this doesn’t necessarily make it so. What to do? I offer this simple practice to you and myself:
- Choose a New Year’s resolution and identify three (or more) qualities required to realize your intention.
- Pick the one(s) you experience having right now. Then identify the one(s) you feel are lacking.
- Explore what you need to cultivate in order to bridge the gap between what you have in hand and what you believe is lacking or in short supply. In other words, what you don’t believe you have now that would make your resolution come true.
- It is helpful to identify where in your body you experience the feelings, attributes, beliefs etc. in your list. Both the ones you have now and the ones you feel are absent or diminished. If it is one you don’t have now, where would it be if you did?
- Write your discoveries down, make a poster that represents your resolution, or use another medium to affirm your discoveries.
A few examples:
My friend wanted to experience more generosity in his life. He saw he currently had a strong sense of curiosity about people but felt he lacked empathy. Upon looking he realized that when he was judgmental he couldn’t feel empathy. Without empathy he was cut off from any sense of being with or in communion with the other. They were an “it” rather than a”thou” in the words of Martin Buber. In this scenario he didn’t have the experience of generosity that he wanted. So watching for the judgmental moments would be a strategy for success, even if he couldn’t resist in the moment. Change begins with awareness. (see post: Moralistic Judgements)
Sometimes our resolution focuses on something more tangible e.g. time, money, friendships. For myself, I would like more time to spend on the things that make a difference in my life.(see post: Stepping Out of the Stream) I have energy and enthusiasm. They reside in my heart center when I check in with myself. I lack consistent courage and perseverance, These are in my low belly. When I lose touch with my courage and perseverance I tend to fritter away my time in procrastination, and therefore, don’t have the time I long for.
To work with this, I noticed that when I practice asana (yoga poses), though I have strong deep abdominal muscles, I don’t consistently engage my pelvic floor. This observation gives me a clue of where to look and how to find my inner connection between my energy and perseverance, my enthusiasm and courage. I can use this insight both on and off the mat. On a physical level, this strengthens and grounds my asana practice. As a metaphor, it reminds me to stay connected to my experience.
Through this simple yet challenging work we begin to experience that everything we want is already present. The work is to discover what cuts us off from realizing this understanding and make that our practice. Our resolutions will arrive in their own time.
If you live in Portland, OR, come to my class, we’ll be working with the pelvic floor. Happy New Year.
More information on the pelvic floor and its importance: