One of the things I like best about New Year’s is that it’s a very unifying holiday; it’s celebrated around the world.  Few other holidays or events are shared by so many people at the same time.  New Year’s serves an important role: it provides an opportunity for reflection and re-set, renewal.  We look back on the opportunities and challenges of the year before and reflect on how we wish the year ahead to be.

Years ago, my teacher Suzie Hurley opened the first class of the new year by asking us to think about some limitation we think we have, and to imagine our lives without that limitation, to envision what would be different, how we would feel differently.  At the time, I took her suggestion at quite a literal level – for me, my limitation in my yoga practice was that I couldn’t do handstand by myself, just too scared to really kick up.  What would my life be like if I could in fact do handstand?  For me, I saw it as a gateway pose for me to go to the next level of class, for me to feel like I could do yoga well enough to start along the path of teaching.  Later that year, I did manage (after a lot of hard work and daily practice) to kick up into handstand, and it’s now one of my favorite poses.

But her suggestion really goes a whole lot deeper – what if we released our self-image of limitation?  What if instead of overcoming our perceived shortcoming like I did with handstands, we shift our view?  If I could do this, shift my view, then I can overcome any limitation.  For example, maybe I see my age as a limitation; obviously there’s nothing I can do about my age, it just is what it is.  So instead, softening my view and asking myself why I perceive age as a limitation, then I can address those underlying issues, or realize that I don’t actually believe that they are issues.

So this year, I repeat Suzie’s invitation – imagine yourself without one of what you consider limitations, envision yourself living that way, and then manifest it!

Meditation offering:

Start with 3 minutes of sama vritti pranayama (balancing the length and quality of your inhalations and exhalations).  Then return to a natural breath, releasing the breath count.  Softly envision yourself without your perceived limitation, and envision how things might be different.  Literally see this in your mind; for example, if your limitation is getting angry in difficult conversations with a family member, then see yourself sitting down with this person at the kitchen table and having this conversation.  Imagine how your voice will sound, how their face will look, when you have this conversation without your getting angry.  Imagine how you feel after the conversation ends, and imagine how future interactions will be different.  Sit for a few moments in the feeling of this new behavior.  When you’re ready, slowly deepen your breath, bring more awareness to your body, and then softly open your eyes to the new day, the new year.

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