new year’s solutions

“If you want to find the meaning, stop chasing after so many things.” ~Ryokan

Part 1: Reflections and reverberation.

I love a new year. Even though it really doesn’t mean that much, it’s neat to have a calendar-based opportunity every 365 days to look back and look forward, and then sit where you are and consider what changes to make. Years ago, I read in O Magazine that instead of resolutions we should make new year’s “solutions.” Some may consider this a worthless game of semantics, but to me the subtle difference is both catchy and powerful. Because, as conscious, evolving beings, aren’t we over making resolutions that fade into obscurity by February?

I used to write dozens of detailed resolutions and even publish articles on how to best create resolutions and intentions. The tough part was prioritizing and sustaining the necessary energy toward achieving all those goals.

In 2008, I thought I’d be revolutionary and set just one resolution: lose 30 pounds.  I’d do all the right things for a while but then allow some hitch in the routine to derail me for months, resulting in a net gain/loss of zero.

So, my 2009 “Solutions” were simply to do more of what inspires me and less of what saps my precious energy. More yoga (teaching and practice!), more meditation, more writing, more walking/jogging/biking, more healthy cooking/eating. Less complaining, less worrying, less eating junk, less surfing the internet instead of exercising or writing. That approach suited me better but was still missing something.

Read the rest on Elephant Journal!

For 2010, I wrote myself a note that said: “Set no resolutions. My only intention is mindfulness. Mindfulness in action, meaning being present to the experience of enjoyment or pain. Mindfulness in words, meaning active listening and compassionate communication. Mindfulness in thought, meaning choosing not to engage in fear, hatred or ego, choosing to cultivate equanimity, ideas and awareness of Truth. Drop analysis. Drop expectations/wishes/goals/desires. Just be MINDFUL. Full of mind.”

I hung it on my wall all year. I was more mindful than ever, and especially mindful of the times when I lost touch with mindfulness and ended up curled up in a ball on the floor.

This month, I’ve been writing regularly, responding to the daily #reverb10 prompts offered by various bloggers and authors. They’re all about reflecting on the past year and manifesting change for 2011. It’s been fun and interesting to see what comes up, where my resistance lies, where the words flow smoothly.

Below are a few of my personal responses. It’s not too late to join in! Or, just look at the prompts and choose the ones that resonate with you. Write freely. Publish or don’t publish. Just reflect and write!

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (This one was authored by my wonderful writing coach and editor, Jeffrey Davis.)

Wonder is
living in questions.
How can I unfold?
What if I don’t grasp?
What if it doesn’t matter what happens?
Who is my best self, after all?
What is my intention for this day?

No plans, no goals.
Openness. Honesty.
Can I stay open?
Can I let my heart keep shining?
How do I practice metta + mindfulness?
What is life but motion from moment to moment?

What is Yoga Freedom?
Compassion + Action.

December 13 – Action. When it comes to aspirations, its not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

Oh yeah, I am really good at brewing ideas. I sometimes have days or even weeks when I go through a creative growth spurt and think of new ideas, hatch new plans, write new sentences.

Taking action to complete those ideas is not always as easy. I have not yet acted upon one of my biggest and best ideas of 2010. It was to develop a system for affluent students at affluent schools with resources to donate their school projects (things like posters, reports, games… anything that can serve as an educational resource) to poorer schools with a dearth of books and supplies.

To make this happen, I need to: connect with teachers at my school (a private school here in Guatemala City) and share the idea. Find out who is willing to participate. (Start small.) Then, make connections with local public schools and find out what their specific need are. Finally, coordinate the delivery of the materials from my school to the recipient schools. Easy as pie! Right? As soon as we are back to work in January, this will be one of my first tasks.

December 17 – Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

I learned that reality is always in flux. I learned how to witness my emotions without always getting entangled in them. I learned that the power of my imagination can create and/or destroy. I learned that my not practicing enough yoga and meditation leads to a detrimental breakdown and that my practicing plenty of yoga and mindfulness leads to everyday breakthroughs.

Part 2: Vows are not meant to be broken.

“Perhaps we should end the year with a vow. To vow is to go beyond, to go from the visible to the invisible, from habit to freedom, from the conditioned to the unconditioned—yet never to land in the invisible, the free, or the unconditioned.

To vow is to go from what you know, from your highest aspiration to where it takes you, from what is possible to what is inconceivable.

May kindness and compassion grace your dharma days!”
-Dairyu Michael Wenger

Ode to Vows

I never keep them.
Why make them?
Do I believe in them?

Buddhist vows,
Wedding vows.
Bramacharya.
Vows scare me.
Vows imprison.
Vows are too much compromise.
Vows hold me back.
Vows make me fail.

What vows could I take?

I vow to practice mindfulness.
I vow to be compassionate to myself and all beings.
I vow to try.
I vow to wake up.
I vow to be gentle and open.
I vow to teach.
I vow to write every day.
I vow to serve others.
I vow to laugh.
I vow to enjoy life.
I vow to be here now.

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One thought on “new year’s solutions

  1. Hello Dear Michelle, all the very best for 09, hope all your dreams will come true! How’s life? Time passes so fast! It’s been already more than six months when we were travelling in India! Do think about it everyday though! Really wondering how the rest of your trip went and how you’re doing these days.I am fine. Still struggling with the usual aspects of life, hard working in the consultancy, ( we háve to, since this economic crisis)and trying to enjoy my free time. I must admit that i am not doing (unfortunately) Vipassana anymore on a daily basis, though I am considering doing this course again…. Well well, that’s a quick word from my side! Let me know how you’re doing! Hope all is well.Take care girl,All the best, Caroline

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