I love the end of the year because it provides a benchmark for the progress we’ve made during the past 12 months and reignites our motivation to set new goals for the upcoming year. One of the things that have always frustrated me once I’ve created new intentions has been the lack of discussion around how resolutions are going once January passes. Nobody talks about how they are doing with their intended goals in April or what changes they needed to make, if any, in the middle of the summer. This idea of self-improvement and the spirit of personal growth that comes with the beginning of a new year stays stuck there, at the start of the year. My best guess as to why this occurs has to do with people either setting unrealistic expectations of themselves or not properly mapping out how they will reach their goal(s), both which lead to messy approaches and disappointing outcomes. After accomplishing my one New Year’s Resolution that I had set out for myself in 2015-to meditate every …
Who isn’t talking about meditation these days? People in every corner of the globe are realizing its benefits. Naturally, when any ancient practice gains wide popularity, it becomes accessible in a vacuum. Most learn bits and pieces of sacred knowledge without proper context. The meaning and purpose behind it eventually lose significance. Sometimes, the application and method turn into something so far from its roots that a danger develops of creating adverse effects. A good example of this is Ashtanga Yoga or Patanjali’s 8-Limb Path. There is a practical and functional purpose to the progressive stages of this path-Yama (Social Code), Niyama (Personal Code), Asana (Postures), Pranayama (Breathing Exercises), Pratyahara (Withdrawal of Senses), Dharana (Concentration), Dhyana (Meditation), and Samadhi (Self-Realization). Meditation comes in the latter part of our internal work towards self-realization because we first have to prepare the mind with the former stages. Yet, how many people do you know who are putting in an equal effort with the Yamas and Niyamas, as they are in perfecting their Asana poses?
Imagine living with less fear, regrets, anxiety, jealousy, greed, and anger. Imagine instead living with more compassion, self-acceptance, understanding, selflessness, and peace. Does it sound like a dream? Does it sound like an impossibility that sounds great in theory, but can never become a reality? I am here to tell you that it is absolutely possible. In fact, many people now, in the past, and in the future, have lived and will live this way. All of our problems start in the mind. We cannot always control what happens to us. We know that all too well from our life experiences. Over the years we all create default settings in ourselves. So, when our ego feels attacked or we feel judged, our go-to responses are defensiveness and self-protection. You can change your default settings to something else, something more nourishing and evolving. How? Meditation.
Each spring the festival of Holi is celebrated in India. It signifies the welcoming of the harvest season, as well as new beginnings in our relationships and lives. Colored powder and water are tossed through the air. Everyone wears old clothes they don’t mind getting splashed on. No one walks away untainted or without a hue of vividness on their faces. It’s a scene of laughter and joy, as friends and strangers alike gather in the start of a literally and figuratively, new season. What a beautiful way to remind us that we always can make a fresh start. Here in the West, some of us have our annual spring cleaning to help us remove the clutter accumulated in our households over the winter hibernation months. It, too, signifies a new beginning. Not only does clearing our spaces create more physical room, but it also helps us to mentally prepare and embrace positive change. Below are three steps to creating your own spring cleaning ritual: