Friday, December 31, 2010

A Deathly New Beginning

Greetings Fellow Blogosphere Inhabitants!

As we are at the threshold of a new year (actually, if you do not live in North America, the New Year probably has already arrived for you: In that case, Happy New Year!), I feel this inexplicable urge to make some half-baked, neither-here-nor-there remarks to usher in the new year. So bear with me.   

So... (ahem!)... We are in the last few hours of 2010, awaiting, with bated breath, the arrival of 2011. At the same time, many of us are experiencing the deadening cold of winter: As I write this, it is -2 degrees fahrenheit out here in northwest Minnesota.

This is a time of deathly new beginning. Death of what has come to pass, and the beginning of a future whose form is taking shape in every single instant of the present; a future whose exact dimensions still elude the intellectual, grasping mind.

This is a difficult time, to be sure; we have to let go of the things that have passed, and the expectations that these things have conditioned our minds to work with. At the same time, it is also an exciting period of new growth and fresh possibilities, and the more we can let go of expectation, the more we can be open to the opportunities for growth that these new possibilities present themselves.

More concretely, I can't help feeling that this season of deathly new beginning also manifests itself in the practice. From reading various blogs over the last few days, I get the sense that quite a few blogosphere inhabitants are facing big changes in their practices, both on and off the mat. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for navigating these changes, but I am confident that whatever each person chooses to do to respond to these changes will result in a deepening of his or her own practice, and that it is only a matter of time before the growth that results from such a deepening blossoms into a much more joyful, integrated practice, both on and off the mat. As some wise guy once said, winter never fails to turn to spring.

Of course, as we go about this process of deepening, we must not forget the deep power that makes all this possible: The Force! With this in mind, I would like to share some more wise words from Kino:

"When you practice yoga you embark on a jedi mind training that teaches you how not to get so caught up in past experience that your future is absolutely determined by it while at the same time using your real world experiences to teach you both on and off the mat. Yoga asks you to reflect on the past as a learning device, not as an absolute future determinant. It would be naive simply to say that there is no past and no future without a firm understanding of just how to live in the present moment. The epiphany moment that wipes away painful past experiences and opens the door to a new way of being happens in one instant and is the culmination of many years of hard work and determination. This moment of transformation is grounded in the past while reaching toward the future and yet must happen in the “now”. Growth often manifests with seeming light speed but this effervescence is actually dependent on years of learning spent on the tight rope between past, present and future."

Ha, it looks like I am unearthing more and more Ashtangis who are closet Star Wars geeks all the time :-)

But seriously, whether or not you make New Year's resolutions, the dawn of the new year is a good time to reaffirm our commitment to our individual practice, because we never know when the "aha" moment (whatever this means for you: Achieving a particular posture, becoming more self-fulfilled, or attaining the siddhi of teleportation...) will arrive in our journey of practice. But we can only witness this moment if we show up and are present when the moment chooses to manifest itself. So, the bad news: There is no shortcut. Gotta show up everyday. However, the good news is: Practice, and all (whatever "all" means to you) is coming.

May the Force be with you.  


  1. We spent Christmas by the Pacific Coast and it was the perfect setting to unwind in front of a vast ocean. Because I didn't want our stay to end, I found myself meditating on what it means to 'be present' in the moment. It gave me a lot of peace. Your good news/bad news resonates with how I feel about the importance of 'being present' or 'just turning up' (on the mat or off it in our daily lives), and it's a damn fine perspective to carry into the New Year. Wishing you a wonderful 2011!

  2. Thanks, Danielle! Happy 2011!

    Happy 2011, fft!

  3. happy new year! may our committement rise for full year