Monday, December 26, 2011

Countdown to a new year

Time for a new intention. What will it be for 2012? Words I'm contemplating for my 2012 intention: realize, recognize, promote, hone, harness, actualize, dwell, refine, uplift, elevate, radiate, rase, reside, relish, enhance, rest, receive, unleash, create, cultivate, abide, amplify, deepen, swell, magnify, intensify, reinforce, boost, affirm, trust, salute, greet, perceive, honor, assert, root, stand, devote, bless, sanctify, glorify, adore, treasure, revere, cherish and nourish...what exactly? The Power of my Heart's Desire. ♥

I've been thinking that, at least for me, the solstices hold a deeper connection to my soul, than the arbitrary choice of New Year's. Although, I do think that the calendar year holds a special socially-contrived importance, I am beginning to be drawn to using the solstice and equinox as powerful tools of expansion and growth in my life.

It's kind of funny how much I want to share before this year is over. I kind of wish that I had been writing all along. I guess when I figure out exactly what my intention for 2012 will be, I will create a new blog and do my best to write, write, write. I feel like it is helpful to document the changes that are being made and the lessons learned.

One of the main realizations that I have had, while dancing with the Shakti, is that the "dance" part has a very playful feel. It offers the opportunity to be led and to lead, to dance alone and dance with the Shakti as a unit. There is a bit of a nonchalant-esque feel to it and I have chosen to obsserve a great deal of "hands-off" experience. Will I do my practice without an explicit commitment? (Often the answer is no...). I have been very free with my habits and rules this fall as well. How do I feel when I don't do my practice? How do I feel when I do?

What I have discovered is a deep paradox in the process of spiritual sadhana (simply translated as practice).  How do we pursue a deeply satisfying, disciplined and rooted, commitment to our practice, without it coming from a "should" place? (i.e. I should practice asana every day. I should meditate 1.5 hours every day. I should do pranayama at least 10min every day. I should chant and do mantra every day. I should read the scriptures every day. etc. etc. etc.). How does it bubble up from a longing to experience the Heart? How do we keep our minds and hearts focused on the Universal without a forceful reminder? We must be vigilant to not be over-taken by the ego (the shoulds!), even within our sadhana.

I love this passage from the Bhakti Sutras:
गुणमहात्म्यासक्ति - रूपासक्ति - पूजासक्ति - स्मरणासक्ति -दास्यसक्ति - सख्यासक्ति - वात्सल्यासक्ति - कान्तासक्ति - आत्मनिवेदनासक्ति - तन्मयासक्ति - परमविरहासकित - रुपैकधाप्येकादाशाधा भवति || 

"Though it is one, [spiritual love] it takes eleven forms of loving attachment [to God]: loving attachment to the qualities of God's greatness, loving attachment to [God's] beauty, loving attachment through worship, loving attachment through rememberance, loving attachment through service, loving attachment through friendship [with God], loving attachment [that is like] a parent's [love for a child], loving attachment like that of a lover, loving attachment through offering the totality of oneself [to God], loving  attachment by being absorbed [in God], and loving attachment in feeling separate from the Supreme." -Narada's Bhakti Sutra ८२

This is such an interesting statement. To love God, to participate in sadhana is to also feel separate from the Supreme. As I have discovered this year, my practice really shifts my experience of life. I seem to recognize the Truth more. But sometimes if feels as though that experience is denying my "human" experience- the part of my experience governed by my ego and my experiences on earth.

For example, when my friend Ken died a couple months ago, I was devastated. I had a full week where I felt like I couldn't function or participate in regular activities. I bought a candle and began offering blessings to Ken each day, so I could continue to do my work. There was a part of me that was obsessing about his death. And I had my own skeletons to face, given the circumstances of his death. I have certainly learned that life offers repetition in experience so that if we missed the opportunity to face our challenges or to metabolize difficult experiences- there is a future time when an event will give us that opportunity. By the end of that first week, I feared I could not go on. So I chose to bow out of my RA responsibilities and use the morning to do my practice. I went to the Yoga Loft and set aside the day for my practice. I chanted. I did pranayama. I did asana. I meditated. I sat around just taking in the room. After 5 hours, I felt like Ken's death hadn't happened. I felt almost disconected from the sadness. It was as though my practie had informed me that Ken wasn't really dead (in a bigger picture sense). That there was nothing to mourn. That the Truth was shining through my practice. I knew that I could choose to continue to use my practice to heal and honor Ken or to go through the next few months deeply expressing the feeling of loss and settling depper into that falsehood. It was an incredible thing to face.

I have faced these realizations many times over the last 6 years, since I began on this path. Countless times, I have faced the choice: feel crappy and unworthy and disconnected or do my practice and feel joy, compassion, love and calm. Most of these times, I have chosen my practice.

The point of all this is that I do not wish to make an intention for 2012 that comes from an external place, but I feel as though the Shakti is guiding me to embrace my power. It is time that I stop exploring what happens when I don't do my practice or when I "feel separate from the Supreme." The Shakti is calling me to recognize the splendor of me and to embrace the possibilities of myself, when I stay committed and disciplined in my practice. I find it so interesting that my greatest fear is success. That I fear proving my ego and my experience wrong (that I am unworthy, unloveable, incapable, not powerful, not divine). What will happen when I do my practice so diligently that I am centered fully in the power of my heart? Do I have a strong enough container to contain that Power? Can I handle it?

It's time for me to find out. I have been preparing diligently for the day when the lies don't hold me back anymore. I have been preparing for a time when I can be fully myself and offer to the world my sunshine. I truly have the ability to impact this world for the's time.

This has been a delightful year of dancing with the Shakti. What a blessing. What a blessing. What a blessing.

Don't take a single breath for granted. <3

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