I don’t really make New Year’s Resolutions. In fact, I shared with my classes last week, that in the spirit of the New Year, no resolutions were needed, we are all perfect as we are.
However, this New Year, I have been thinking about taking adventures. Some adventures are adventures of travel – going to new places, seeing new things, meeting new people, trying things we have never tried before. Usually, an adventure changes us in some way. We come away feeling a bit expanded by our journey.
Some adventures are subtler. An adventure more in the inner realm. Indeed, my exploration of yoga and mindfulness over the years has been an adventure – I have explored new parts of myself, met places within me that I have always yearned to, I have through the journey changed, grown, become more the person I had hoped to become.
Despite not making resolutions, in the New Year, I like to at least reflect on the last year and look at how I grew. What challenges did I meet, what adventures did I have? I look at the adventures as not just the travels that I took and the new things I did, but the inner journey I took as well. The last year, as many of you knew, held the journey of grief, as I went through the process of losing my father, first his mind to Dementia, and then his body to aging and illness. I look at the process of being with him as he was dying and being with my family and my inner experience in the following months as a big journey.
No one wants the challenges that arise in life – illness, struggle to find a job, worry about a family member, losing someone we love, difficulty in our marriage. No one wants to go on those journeys, and yet, we do. They are inevitable. We travel these paths often with quite a bit of resistance and decidedly without a sense of adventure. We tend to think of adventure as being exciting, fun, sometimes scary, but usually with a positive outcome. We don’t usually think of adventuring through the more difficult things we face.
And yet, from the perspective I have now of the last year, I do see that experience of loss and grief as an adventure that I went through. I experienced something new, in a way I never had before. There I was, stepping into the unknown every step of the way, traveling where I never have, discovering things about myself, and yes, seeing how it changed me.
It got me thinking – what qualities are present when we are on an adventure? For starters, I would say curiosity, openness to the experience, and courage. On an adventure, we don’t know what is going to happen next, but we are open to the experience. We are brave – taking the next action even if we are afraid. We are curious about what’s next. We respond to the moment with what is needed. These all seem like good qualities to bring into any situation.
The truth is, we don’t ever really know what is going to happen next, so we are always on some kind of adventure. Can we face the unknown of life with a sense of curiosity and openness? With courage and responsiveness? Being present to what arises moment by moment, day by day, and greeting it with steadiness? I think that is what it means to be human and on a spiritual journey.
I invite you into the wonderful adventure that a yoga and mindfulness practice can provide, and how that expands out into the rest of our lives. In our practice, we discover, and we cultivate these qualities – openness, curiosity, courage, steadiness, responsiveness, resilience, and with a dose of kindness to ourselves along the way. Taking on your practice as an adventure might mean staying steady with the practice you already have, through the ups and downs, the times you want to practice and the times you don’t. Starting this adventure might be finding the courage to try a class for the first time, or coming into the studio for the first time in a long time. You are welcome whether you are a seasoned regular at the studio, a beginner, or haven’t set foot on your yoga mat for months or years. Your journey and adventure might look like trying something new – a new class, teacher, or workshop, going on a retreat, or even diving into our Yoga Teacher Training, a truly big adventure!
Wherever you are, as you come through our doors, we welcome you into the adventure of discovering yourself through yoga and mindfulness.
To many adventures in the year ahead,
PS: If you are considering joining us for our 2019 Mindfulness Based Yoga Teacher Training, the registration deadline is approaching, January 21st. I will be hosting one last info session on Friday, January 18th, 6pm at the University Place studio – let us know you are coming. Join us for the adventure!