This is the first year in eleven years that I went back to Chicago to visit my sister and three nephews over the Christmas holiday. I usually teach on Christmas day but this year my sister would not take no for an answer, so there came the plane ticket and with it excitement too. I have not basked in tradition in a long time, and if anyone keeps tradition it’s my sister. She saves; I can’t wait to get rid of. She’ll drive the extra if necessary; I will come up with another solution. She considers snow a tradition; I moved away. But, we are super close and always have been and I’m not sure if I would be as sensibly assembled without her!
As soon as I land which is after eight pm Chicago time, we head to Walgreens for batteries and wrapping paper. Walgreens is tradition too – it’s open on Christmas Eve and my sister is certain to be there. My sister’s home is covered in the same decorations I witnessed years ago with new pieces added, and it’s more beautiful than ever! My sister holds onto not only her own traditions with her immediate family but all the ones my mother created – that means without fail (and keep in mind that Walgreens is open 24 hours) we need to make every kind of cookie on mom’s Christmas list. So, we ate, wrapped, drank, baked and slipped into bed at 2:30 in the morning! Awesome!
Traditional activity is the perfect way to end the year. We close with “closeness” in doing routines that we are comfortable with. We feel good doing them and being in them. It helps us lose the tight grip of any hardship that we might have encountered in 2013. And it sets the stage for springing into a new year with a clean slate. Our traditions remind us of what is important and we are ready to let go of the past and be renewed, rejuvenated, and re-energized to start up again with new, bigger intentions and dreams that we want for ourselves. The pendulum is not swinging towards those heavier days that kept us stuck but is now moving with strong momentum to all things new, with high enthusiasm and confidence. I am certain that you too experienced tradition in your own ways over the last two weeks or maybe as long as the last month. So, you, like me, are ripe for change – “personal improvement that benefits all beings” – is how I like to phrase it. That much alone helps to answer the question: “Why should I do the 60 day challenge?” It’s the very tool needed right now to access all that heightened “I can do this” energy so you can play out all those new goals you’ve set for yourself.
Like tradition, your intentions and desires become more and more meaningful with each completed class, each completed challenge. The repetition gives power. The repetition gives a “sticky” factor, meaning with each passing class it becomes more and more important to hang onto this 60 day challenge tradition as you “feel” better and better having done it. The repetition is the string on your finger that reminds you of what is meaningful in your life and it gives you the power to go after it. And repetition enables us to grow. Because we feel so comfortable in it, we allow ourselves to be more open and more vulnerable, and with that comes greater insight, greater awareness and understanding, and thus an overall greater you!
“I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost… I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place. But, it isn’t my fault. It still takes me a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in. It’s a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it. I walk down another street.”
Called “My life in 5 chapters,” by Portia Nelson, it reminds me of Emmy Cleaves and her resounding wisdom on phases of development: awareness followed by understanding followed by control followed by mastery. Because we are human, we will repeat unwanted behavior. We will fall in the same hole or attract a different hole as we walk through the lessons of our life’s path. Over the course of the year, if we are not creating conscious behavior, we will come out again with the pendulum swinging in the direction of difficulty and suffering. Our energy wanes and before we even know it, we’ve given up or forgotten about those goals we set out to reach in the beginning of the year.
The yoga keeps the light on. It will provide a reset button throughout the year clarifying once again all those intentions and desires. Each day, each class will reveal something and it’s up to you to consciously respond in a new way or not. Like tradition, you’ll come back to it time and time again and the repetition will provide deeper thought and maybe even the insight and courage needed to make a change that is necessary.
Jumping into the 60 day challenge sets the tone for the year you are crystallizing right now. It will form and shape like a tradition in these 60 days so you won’t lose the life force it has in you right now. Each class throughout the year will be like sitting at the table with family and friends and you’ll slip right back into those heightened senses that empower you back to the path you started. In our world today we need something that keeps us clear. We need a tool to shake off those hindrances that stop us from running our race and a community to do it in that keeps our faith strong.
Don’t NOT do the Challenge. Simplify your goal and get rid of the anxiety of “how” to accomplish 60 days. Let it take you and see how far you go. Everyone I’ve encountered is always surprised at what the challenge brought to their lives. It will surely benefit your health, quite possibly be a shit disturber in bringing up “stuff” that you’ve needed to look at, and in the end almost always it will be the best thing that you ever decided to do for yourself.