Years ago, I recall sitting at dinner with my good friend Diane from Il Fornaio Restaurants and discussing the start of a new year. I was recommitting to goals I had earlier set for myself, but with differences – owing to the knowledge I had gained through living my life since that time. She replied saying, “that’s the evolution that happens, as we don’t just come full circle and start again (with her hand making a flat full circle in the air), we spiral up (her fingers now twirling up like a winding staircase), back to where we started, but yet at a higher level!” Nice! That symbolism made such an impression on me that I haven’t forgotten it after all these years. I use it often to help me cement any wisdom that I may have gained from any endeavor, including those that I’ve stopped and restarted.
We aren’t really ever in the same place twice. As yogis, we know this as we preach and play out new moments of being present with every breath we take. But, do we stop to ponder where we’ve been, what we want to hold onto, and what we want to let go? Each year, Jessica, our wonderful teacher, and her husband, Arad, put together a wonderful Holiday newsletter illustrating – in 12 cartoon style boxes – what each month held for them in the year about to end. I love getting it, as it is great fun to read, but it’s also a wonderful “album” that captures what was important and held meaning for them in yet another year about to come to an end. Call me silly, but I actually love and thank Facebook for the albums it has created FOR me over the years. I get to peruse and revisit months and even years of wonderful experiences through snapshots I’ve taken, as well as those shared by friends. It gives me a chance to reflect on where I’ve been, and maybe sit in THAT moment in time while inquiring into who I was then, who I am now, and what I may have learned and gained during that time.
Starting a new year with some conscious awareness is important. The momentum and motivation is there for most of us as decent human beings to want to create a better version of ourselves. But unless we take the time to reflect on the past and what we’ve garnered, we’ll just recycle the same resolution and most likely fall flat with the inspiration we are hoping will take us to where we want to go and who we want to be.
I recently went to Westgate Church and heard a great message by Pastor Jay on “rushing.” It’s not at all unusual for Silicon Valley residents to always be in a rush. But, his take on it was interesting. We are not going to change much by way of being “busy”, as that is a fact, and – in his terms – is more external, but we can look at and even change being in a hurry or rushing which – again, in his terms – is more internal. For instance, my days are jam packed with activity. But, there are hundreds of moments throughout the day when I interact with people and I am doing my best to not rush. It’s much like our postures. Take for instance “balancing stick.” It’s only 10 seconds which seems so fast, but when you are in the pose itself all rushing ceases and, in fact, you feel no time at all. It’s a great paradox to ponder, because perhaps being more patient or less busy is the resolution you’re after, but like our practice demands of us, you need to partake of it with more technique and effort, and then watch for some meaningful details poking through!
There are countless other examples: maybe you didn’t lose the weight you wanted to last year, but you learned to have less sugar in your diet; maybe you didn’t keep all those date nights as planned but you were certainly more attentive to your spouse’s needs; and perhaps your yoga practice slipped a little more than you wanted but your commitment to it remains lifelong.
This is all about redefining what we are constantly refining, and that’s the road to mastery. Take an Angel Card for example. They are at the front desk for you to keep once you pick one. They are not unusual words: understanding, joy, forgiveness, abundance, support, release, etc…; BUT when looked at and contemplated 365 days of the year, each word develops a greater meaning otherwise not seen.
Your level of awareness is proportional to how awake you are. It’s a beautiful FEELING to have character that is deep mind, body, and spirit by using your potential to fully notice. It’s the winding staircase we are after that makes life richer with opportunities that are right in front of us, to enhance this journey we are on.