Did you know that “Be not afraid.” is in the Bible 365 times? There are enough “Be not afraids” that we could read a different one every day of the year. That is how important this message is to anyone seeking a full, spiritually deepened life experience. Interestingly, while yoga philosophy doesn’t phrase it quite the same way, “Be not afraid” is a central message to yoga seekers on and off the mat.
Many of us get stuck "fixin' to" do something. "Fixin' to" does not create results. Results come from practicing and doing. Preparing is a good thing unless you get stuck there. A yoga practice is a powerful way to train yourself to slide gracefully and courageously from the "fixin' to" stage into rich, illuminating, growth-filled action.
Your chosen spiritual practice(s) are like a GPS for life. Whatever your practice, you have chosen a tool that helps you get where you’re going. But you do have to allow it to lead the way. When you stick to the “route” suggested by your practice, you will get where you’re going with fewer wrong turns and detours.
Too often enlightenment is deemed something for barefoot sages on mountaintops. This isn't true. Enlightenment is possible for YOU. All you need is practice so that the next time you snuggle a puppy, or walk in the falling snow, or watch your dad help your mom into the car, you will be so overwhelmed with noticing that noticing is all you are doing. These moments are enlightenment. And each one you notice is enough to inspire a lifetime of practice.
Vulnerability is the magic ingredient in every relationship. It invites kindness, generosity, compassion, and love. Being vulnerable or “real” allows others to love us. When we pour less energy into appearing fine and more energy into being our true selves with one another, love blossoms.
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?
The little things in life that make you smile can slip by unnoticed if you're not paying attention. Practicing mindfulness can help. Mindfulness practices such as yoga teach us that, with practice, we can develop the ability to choose our focus, to choose what our mind is thinking or focusing on in any given moment.