This shared point in our history is uncomfortable. We can choose hope and optimism by seeing life (and ourselves) as a work in progress. Ignatian spirituality and yoga philosophy offer guidance in choosing hope. It's easy to start practicing on our yoga mats.
Without some type of contemplative practice, when life bites most of us will bite back. Our knee-jerk reaction is to get defensive. We allow the initial, totally natural, wave of feelings to dictate our response to whatever is upsetting us. This doesn’t make us bad people. It makes us human people. In other words, this is simply the way we are hard-wired. Regular contemplation re-wires us.
Instead of thinking in terms of typical resolutions as we welcome this new year, why not consider maintaining a way of living that you may not even realize 2020 taught you? Living with Beginner’s Mind has the power to make every day (even every experience in every day) as brand-new as January 1. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could discover and celebrate the joy, energy, and freedom of being a beginner at this thing called life all year long?
You and I can take a hopeful stance whenever life offers us challenges. We can take a breath and actively (acceptingly, mindfully, and hopefully) WAIT. Trusting as we wait that, one day, we will feel a little quiver of inspiration to once again begin to stretch and grow.
Rather than hopping on a plane or packing up the car, our main mode of travel these days is our sneakers.But my husband and I have maintained our passion for seeing as much of this world of ours as we can. By deciding to approach our little outings as “travel” or “exploration,” that is what they have become. If you, like us, will be staying closer to home this summer, remember that this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your travels. It’s a great big, beautiful world out there – even in your own backyard. Stay curious and keep your eyes open. See as much of it as you can.
Play is important. It is necessary. Play is a biological drive as critical to our health as sleep or food. Play can help us solve some of life’s toughest problems. When we take a break from a challenge to play, our minds continue to work on the problem. Play allows our minds to create new neural networks and to reconcile cognitive difficulties. Developing a habit of regular play can actually make all of life go better. The ability to work past difficulty or boredom to find the fun is a skill we all have to develop, but if we can embrace the notion that play is not always “all fun and games,” but can involve some discomfort and hard work, we will be better able to find a sense of play in everything we do – even our work. This perspective is a powerful way to make life more enjoyable.
“Things may never go back to normal. You may need to create a new normal. And that’s OK.” These days we’re hearing a lot about a “new normal.” Though the term is having a "moment," the idea isn't new at all. In fact, I suspect you've practiced it before. In essence, embracing a new normal is to understand that it isn’t possible or even desirable to go back (as in “let’s get back to normal”). Growth is never backwards. It is always forward, into the unknown and the new.
My new little sunflower garden has given me a glimpse of a future that feels hopeful and a little exciting. This is looking ahead that I think even our yoga teachers would sanction. It is a forward glance with an open heart and mind. It is looking to the future with curiosity rather than with a desire for a particular outcome. It is anticipation that doesn’t pull us out of the moment, but rather inspires us to savor each moment along the way. It turns out that I’m just as excited to go out and check on my little sunflower seedlings each morning as I am to (maybe ... hopefully) have their bright, happy faces smiling at me as I walk to my yoga studio later this summer.
Lately, after dinner, we’ve been working on a jigsaw puzzle. In addition to fostering easy, comfortable togetherness, the practice of “puzzling” has taught me three valuable life skills. 1) It’s a good idea to begin by building the border or foundation. 2) What you’re looking for doesn’t always look like you expected it to look. 3) Sometimes you must stop focusing on the image you’re trying to create and soften your gaze to look only at the shape of the pieces you have in order to see where they fit.