It’s a cold clear December 31st. The Eve of 2022. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the last week to spend several chunks of time milling around my reflections and intentions. I took a little extra time to chew on these ideas with my partner, with a dear brother as well as a trusted colleague. What has come out of these conversations feels like an intuitively familiar experience of meaning making through story telling.
As I was thinking about my intentions for the new year the words that came up were the same as they were last year: Freedom & Connection. Here the concept of “sutras” came to mind. In Sanskrit, a sutra is an aphorism; a thread or string of short sentences that are meant to be expanded on. Easily remembered short compositions that can be expounded on, usually in passing from teacher to student. These two words continue to grow in subtlety and deepen in meaning like a thread of a blanket unravelling. What it means to cultivate a life of Freedom for me is becoming a responsibility to stay connected to myself and my personal practice as well as in how I show up in relationship with others.
Instead of teacher to student though, I’m finding that I most enjoy sharing, exploring, savoring and digesting experiences with others through open, vulnerable, and intimate conversations seeking to see, hear and understand what feels true to myself and others. It is these talks that unwind the thread, deepening the meaning of life and the joy in sharing it.
If 2020 was about exploring and experiencing growth in solitude, then 2021 was certainly the opposite; growth in relationship with others. Friends, family, partner, and in community working with students and clients. Both my greatest challenge and reward in 2020 was being single during covid. And it’s funny to report that for 2021 the challenge and reward are also the same, just in the opposite world of partnership. That’s why I have so much appreciation for Yoga’s ethical principles, the Yamas & Niyamas. They encompass a mindset shift from wrong/right, or good/bad to both/and. To lessons and growth. To being with what is.
Being is learning to be present in the experience of the moment without assumptions or expectations. To be with what is, exactly how it is, without grasping to hold on, without pushing away, resisting, numbing, or needing it to be different. Freedom is being present in my experience. I can cultivate “being” using breath and movement. The mind needs a focal point to keep from wandering into the future or getting stuck in the past. Paying attention to breath as we move is a very accessible way to learn to be present in the moments of life experience. It’s only when we are present with what is that we can learn from it, grow from it, allow ourselves to feel it as well as integrate the lesson and let go to make room for the next.
For 2022 I would like more Connection. To myself, to my personal practice of meditation, movement and meaning, to my partner and to my community of students, teachers and clients. My practice is to ground my nervous system in safety, both with self-regulating practices of breath and movement as well as co-regulating that safe, open and brave space to be in authentic relationship with others. I am focused on grounding and cooling practices that lessen my fiery nature through awareness of my physical, mental and emotional “diets”. What is going on inside? What am I ingesting? What are the qualities of my internal mental and emotional world? I’m the one who chooses what the internal conditions are. My life and relationships are a direct reflection of the quality of my internal landscape. When there is fear, or sense of threat, my protection response is defense. And that defense causes disconnect. Again, from both myself and others. The beauty is I get to choose a personal practice that supports me staying in safety and staying in Connection. This is Freedom to me.
I am open to sharing these practices. I would love to talk to more people. To hear what feels true. To hear what supports you feeling connected. And if you’re struggling to find connection I would love to work together. That’s what integrative health therapists do. We look at the whole person. Instead of treating symptoms and making diagnoses, we work with clients to get curious about what is going on in the physical body with pain and tension patterns, in the mental realm with thoughts, beliefs and emotions and how the internal world affects what shows up in the physical body. We seek to connect the dots between body and mind. To discover what caused the disconnect and to bring the body and mind back to working together. When head, heart and gut are united, the body becomes its own personal compass. We start to listen what it has to tell us and we can find our own way to more and more freedom in health and in relationship with others.
As 2022 draws near, I wish you space to start asking yourself what you need to feel more connected to yourself, to your life, to your people. I hope you can gift yourself the space of curiosity without judgement to explore what is current for you. Time to listen. It can feel foreign, selfish or lazy to stop doing. But I encourage you to carve out a bit of time to PAUSE. To start noticing what your body is trying to tell you. It is wise. It knows what it needs to heal. To reconnect. If it feels too high load to do it alone, find someone who can hold that space with you. We are here to do this life together. To be with each other. To slow down. To “do” less and “be” more. That is where the Freedom is . I wish you a year of willingness to explore, experience and share life. To find your people, be together and really see, hear and understand each other. May WE ALL be happy and free. And may the thoughts, words and actions of our lives contribute to the freedom and happiness of ALL.