Sixth Meditation: Svasana, the Death of a Year

It always takes me a few days to get into a new year. I anticipate that this year’s shift will be no different in that regard. I’ll still write 2014 on checks (which, yes, I still often make out by hand). It might take me until April or May to start writing 2015 and maybe even until August to start occupying the space of 2015 in my brain. So when it comes to resolutions, I know that this particular kind of meditation means I’m in for the long haul.

I read somewhere that if a person wants to create a good resolution that he or she can really stick with, one must give oneself a good week or two to settle into said resolution. Because, in fact, when we try to shift our habits, our physical and habitual reflexes need a little time reboot so to speak. For me, though, it might take longer than a few weeks.

I know this is true with my yoga practice. I never just pop into a pose. I take time setting the ground work, checking the alignment from the arches of my feet all the way up through my pelvis, my rib cage, my neck, up to that seventh chakra top of my head. And that’s how I approach the pose each day. It took years for me to be able to lift my arms over my head for Vrksasana. And years longer to focus my drishti inside myself. If I were to be as intentional about my new year’s resolution, it would take a bit time to set up a good one as well.

And if I were to conceive of 2014 as its own kind of practice, then this period surrounding the shift of the calendar would be my svasana.

This year, I’m trying to enter the year by being conscious of how difficult this shift is. And I’ve started by consciously slipping into a metaphorical svasana for my 2014 “practice.”

Whenever I teach a yoga class, I rarely cue “open out into svasana” without helping students ease into it. Maybe we do a restorative pose for a few minutes first, or maybe I give some visualization cues on how to relax their bodies into the pose (which I say to myself every time I release into svasana as well), but regardless of how I get them (and myself) into svasana, I make sure that the body and mind consciously move further from one another so that they can find a more intuitive connection.

When coming into svasana myself, I want my mind to lull above sleep without slipping into it. I want the heavily restorative meditation that I find in a yoga nidra class, mind absent of thought, memory and breath. I hope I can stay there for a few moments before gently finding myself reborn into my life from my practice, integrating the practice with my life without needing to compartmentalize my practice.

That’s what this period of my year, I hope, can feel like as well. As the holidays melt away, I hope my meaning-making mind lulls over my responsibilities, just being with them and seeing them for what they are. I hope to find myself present in them without judging them so that I can my life and what it needs without the ego’s work of “who I want to be” taking hold.

God bless the people who can make resolutions and stick with them. I am not one of those people. I’m not sure I’m type A enough to be.

I am unable to have a lasting forceful change in my life. In fact, any time I’ve tried to enact one, it’s never been successful. And I think part of the reason why is that any forceful changes I’ve tried to make are somehow outside the scope of who I am.

One example might be the time I resolved to get online only once a day.

I was very conscious that I didn’t want to spend so much time online, so I set up a schedule for myself that I could check all of my email addresses, Facebook pages, Scrabble games and other sundry sites at one time, leaving the rest of my life for non-virtual experiences. I’ll put the results into context: I ended up spending a two to three hour block online at a time. And while those two to three hours helped me step away from the computer for longer periods of time, I ended up needing to transition between the virtual and non-virtual periods of my day. My brain felt fuzzy. I was too keyed up and once I left the computer, all I could think of was what I wanted to search on Google the next day. I was actually keeping a “to do” list for what I needed to accomplish online. I spent more time organizing my online time than I did when I living more organically with my screen.

The resolution was well intentioned, but it was an intense and impractical diet from the life that I needed to live.

With a little thought, and a little experience in what was going wrong with my resolve, I came up with this instead: no screen time while eating, no screen time while talking to real people.

It works a lot better for me.

I love resolutions, and I love to think that the people the whole world over might set their sights in waves at the same moments to being better for one another and better for themselves. I love being a part of this collective betterment, and I’d like to be one of the people who can be accountable to my peers for my resolutions. In order to do so, I’m drawing on the lessons I’ve learned from my yoga practice. And instead of simply being conscious of who I’d like to be for those around me, I’m stepping back and breathing and noticing without grasping onto the first shift that feels right.

New Year’s Eve is today, and in the interest of complete honesty, I still don’t know what my resolution will be. However, I know this:

For all the things about myself and my life that I’d like to be different, I have an amazing and beautiful life. There are so many things I could be anxious about. There are MANY things about our world that I am angry about. I want my little kiddo to group in a world that is different from the one he lives in, and I don’t have long before he is old enough to start remembering it. Having said all of that, I also know that with all that I want to be different, the thing that will make the biggest impact for him is who I am from one minute to the next. That subtle shift in person, coming back constantly to my pure and simple self, can dramatically change the course of my life and of his.

So as I move mindfully and intuitively through my life over the next couple of weeks, I will keep this thought under consideration:

My resolution will not come from a place of deficiency; it will come from a place of gratitude.

I invite you to consider making your choice from the same place.

side Plank 12.31.14


27 November 2012: The Poetics of Email

I am so thankful for the surprises of poetry in email. I love the stream of consciousness blurt of expression that comes between directions and requests. There are so many moments, in personal emails, when the writer slips out of her communication to me and begins to tap into her true nature.  It is the intimacy of letter writing. The writer can hardly stop from being so inside of herself. The words she uses are drenched in her pronunciation. The pure joy of language catches me off guard between advertisements (and there were many this cyber Monday) and meeting minutes.

I am thankful for another kind of email poetics as well: the well-crafted line that’s been revised, revised and edited only to contain some happy accident of word play (which seems no accident). These messages move me off point and into the approaching storm of my imagination. For a minute, I get to wonder what world these words live in when they come from without me. Eventually, I know I need to respond to my senders’ requests, so I do, putting the poetics aside for a minute until I can formulate a clear, concise response and click “send.”

I always go back, though, and save these quick notes to some special folders, only to lose them as more come in. I can’t keep every lovely bit of language that comes to me through the ether, but that has never stopped me from trying.

And it didn’t stop me today when a perfect stranger sent me a real-life, honest to God poem…in tercets, nonetheless. How beautiful is that? A person took the time, not to write for any gain or functionality, but because the words were so inside of him, he had nothing left to do but let the letters rain onto the page in perfect sans-serif puddles.

And I was lucky enough to witness it.