January Inspiration – Annual Reflection & Getting On Track for 2016
Every year, since 2000 I have been taking inventory of my life to see if I’m on track toward living my Inner Vision (i.e. the life I wish to have and the person I wish to be).
By inventory, I mean I re-read my initial “Life Path Journal” - a journal I wrote in 2000 that contains ideas and inspirations as well as the answers to a series of questions I asked myself in a meditative state regarding who I am and the kind of life I wanted to have including relationships, work, the place I lived, etc., inspired by several books I was reading at the time. Or often I will re-read sequels to the original Life Path Journal that I have written since my first draft started in 1999, usually the most recent one, and then I review the previous year’s events (and also the events of my life that seem to still be affecting me for better or worse to the present date) and consider how these things have and continue to shape me and I analyze how I feel about all that.
I also look at recurring thoughts, moods and feelings that are signposts to my inner dialogue, which certainly affect my reality and check-in with myself on this level, too.
I also consider my perceived accomplishments and failures, the state of my health and overall sense of well being, and, of course, my finances as it’s impossible to get ahead without a handle on this aspect of life...
That’s just a brief list of the things I do, but you get the point.
And the point is that I do all this to see if I am on track toward living the life I have envisioned for myself and where adjustment might be in order, and then I create a list of goals, wishes and inspirations worth reaching for in the year ahead (or within a certain timeline that makes sense to me) and perhaps sketch out a mind map or a plan of action that will help me to initiate the things I want into manifestation.
(With things that are very important to me, I might perform rituals from various traditions to help instill a beam of Lifeforce energy or pure love and intention to move things along rapidly. One ritual, as I’m sure you are curious, is a simple manifestation meditation from Kundalini Yoga that uses mudra and mantra to create an pull of attraction between you and that which you desire.)
After doing this for myself, I do a similar, though a little less intensive, task with my husband, taking couple’s inventory of our life together so that we can discuss important themes, from finances, to our sex life, to our individual and combined goals, etc., all things that affect us. This enables us to celebrate our joys and victories together as a couple, and it also helps us reconsider or edit aspects of our life together that we want to manage better or steer in a new direction.
Along with this process, and usually in honor of the New Year (though sometimes I do it for Thanksgiving) I also take my time to think about all the individuals I am grateful to (including our retreat visitors, of course) and all the blessings I am grateful for, including, last but certainly not least, the difficult people who have crossed my path and the challenges that are there to teach me the greatest of life lessons… I always conclude that it’s all good and I’m so lucky to be alive and admittedly this is a spectacular feeling. I beam this energy out to everyone on my list.
But I must also backtrack to the time when I did none of these things, and how lost, angry and alone I felt and how troubled and dark many aspects of my life were, including my personal relationships, finances, my lifestyle habits which influenced my health for the worse of course, and especially - and most importantly - the relationship I had to myself, which was very poor.
Hitting rock bottom really does feel like a near death experience, but that’s exactly where the opportunity for rebirth exists, if only we dare reach out for the branch of life that is inevitably there to catch us before disappearing into the abyss for good.
That’s what happened to me on Year’s Day, 1999, and the events that began to unfold from that point forward all lead me to where I am today; a directed, better balanced, more steady, more clear in mind, body and spirit, wife, mother, sacred and powerful woman, creative soul and owner, director and manager of an established holistic retreat on a beautiful paradise island that I run together with the help and support of my steady and very down-to-earth life partner and best friend.
But I digress. (If you are curious about my story, check out our Life Path Awakening page or future Life Path related blog posts I publish this year, as I plan to be revealing that story bit by bit over time.)
What I would like to convey today is the importance of taking inventory as a tool that can help you start off the New Year in a clear and focused way.
That, and the importance of not only taking care of your mental being but also of your physical and spiritual being, for when you are fit in the sacred trinity of Self, this is when you are able to function at your highest capacity and achieve by way of the laws of attraction pretty much anything your heart truly desires.
There’s a lot of self-help advice out there on what questions to ask yourself and how to go about creating a step-by-step plan to get from point A to Z within a given timespan to turn your life around.
I can happily share my list with you. But again, that’s not the purpose of this post.
The main advice I’d like to offer is to “just do it”. And by it, I mean, follow your own inner guidance on the questions you want and need to ask yourself. And then ask yourself what steps you need to take to continue on a certain way or change course, and then get started! This January, or whenever it is you read this and decide you are ready.
Ask yourself the following:
What aspects of your life do you want to take inventory of?
What aspects of your life do you feel are out of your control?
What aspects of your life are you thrilled by and hope to continue nurturing to continued or even greater fruition?
How’s your health?
What’s your personal life like?
What about your work; do you like it and do you feel that you are serving a higher purpose with it? If not, how do you go about completing that task of serving a higher purpose in life?
How’s your relationship to yourself these days, this year, this decade? Do you love yourself? Can you look yourself in the mirror and say, “I love you just the way you are, beloved one?” If not, what do you feel you need to do in order to be able to feel this way toward yourself, to actually give you the good self-loving you deserve?
There are tons of other questions I can put out there for you, but I think you get the point.
It’s time to ask those questions that are jumping out at you from the depths of your heart and mind and really sit down not only to think about the answers but to WRITE THEM DOWN!
Because when you put thought into written form, they become manifest. When they become manifest, they cannot be (easily) denied.
Yes, you can ignore them by not re-reading your journal, of course. But I doubt you will be able to stay away from your own written word… the journal will beckon you to pick it up and read its contents sooner or later, and you will have to heed the call of the things you have written and the solutions that you know in your heart need your rightful and timely action. It’s either that or burn it, but why would you do such a silly thing?
In addition to writing down your thoughts, please dear friends, please… if you haven’t established this yet in your life, it’s time to make time for a Personal Practice.
Why? Because a personal practice helps you to come home to yourself; it sets the foundation for you to be more focused, centered, balanced, healthy and ready for whatever may be around the corner.
What does a personal practice involve?
Anything at all, in any combination that works for you, even if that combo is not rhythmic or consistent in the traditional sense, as long as it follows your natural rhythm and is repeated as often as you want and need it, that’s just fine.
Is it yoga, jogging, meditation, singing, hiking, drawing or creating something, playing a sport or chatting with a dear friend that helps you feel like YOU again…
Is it something you do in a group or alone? Or is it all of these things?
It really doesn’t matter, as long as the practice brings you back into your body, clears your mind and opens your heart to the Divine Inspiration of life and love that is always surrounding us. And it also helps you to check-in with your Self and the goals and dreams you have for your life.
I personally find “mind-body-spirit cross-training” works well for me. By that I mean, for example, that while jogging by the sea, in one of my most favorite and most inspirational places on this Earth that is pristine and often uninhabited off season, I chant personal mantras (inspirational thoughts or even a “sankalpa”) to myself to the rhythm of my breath, while tuning into the sensations of the elements that encompass me. Sometimes I add mudra for good measure to empty my mind by keeping focus on something as basic as the touching of my finger pads against one another.
I often pause for a more-or-less traditional “yoga sadhana” break, mid-way through the jogging session. By yoga sadhana, I mean a combination of elements from a traditional yogic daily practice, including mantra chanting, pranayama, warming & loosening exercises, sun salutations, asana and / or vinyasa flow, mediation and savasana.
At the conclusion of these sessions, or sometimes before I begin, I take a moment to journal (usually the most inspirational thoughts flow clearly from the depths of my soul at this time, alone in beautiful nature, at one with my breath and the world around me), I reaffirm my sankalpa (simple statement that affirms thoughts about my wellbeing), and also take a moment to say my thanks… my list is always long, for there is so very much to be grateful for, but ultimately I always thank the Universe for this crazy and wondrous life and all the beings in it that help make it what it is.
I then continue with the last leg of my “mind-body-spirit cross training session” and head home where my daughter and husband await me, and we get on with our day-to-day business. Days like this, after taking out time for myself, just seem to flow better. Not only do I feel better in my body, but my mind is usually much clearer, my mood is elevated, and my entire being just feels lighter and aligned to something greater.
I will not lie to you. I do not do this every day. I cannot do this every day; I’m not as disciplined or consistent as that and I am actually no longer the “Master of My Time” since giving birth, and I am only now slowly becoming, once again, the “Master of My Body”, 8 months after birth.
Some days I wake up late. Some nights I haven’t slept much because of the baby. Some days I wake up tired for no reason, or feeling lazy, or sometimes I’m simply overwhelmed with a bunch of other tasks that demand my immediate attention that I just don’t know how to carve out that luxurious 2 hours for the mentioned training that feels just right. Yes, I give it a good 2 hours, as in essence it’s part of my job as a yoga teacher and retreat leader to do this practice in a thorough and dedicated way.
But I do come back to it, time and again, as this set of practices I describe touch me deeply and the reward for doing them is truly great and extremely uplifting and inspirational, not to mention they are helping me come back to my pre-pregnancy self, slowly but surely.
Note, I do not beat myself up for lack of consistency, for I cannot be what I am not. But luckily my personal sadhana is not limited to the mentioned cross-training, there are many more ways I keep up with my spiritual, physical and mental wellbeing.
There are days when the only observed spiritual moment I experience is the bonding with my daughter and the pure, joyful love I feel bursting out of me every time I see her smile.
Most days I chant mantras (mindfully) to her to help her fall asleep peacefully. By mindfully, I mean that in addition to loosing myself to the musical notes pouring forth from my own vocal cords, I actually think about the meaning of the Sanskrit words I am chanting and bless her and myself while doing so.
Most days I also read yogic or spiritually-related literature that inspire, educate and uplift me - often it is through short and simple posts by friends and like-minded pathwalkers I am connected to on Facebook, and sometimes the only moment I find for this is while “taking a bathroom break” where I store a stack of yoga journal magazines for moments like this where I can actually take time for myself, LOL!
Some mornings, I walk through the woods that surround our home together with my daughter, two dogs, and even sometimes the cat, and address the Source of the Universe while standing on what I deem to be a sacred spot at the top of the hill, in front of the church, on the ancient cobble stone mandala pattern that remains untouched by the surrounding new pavement, and I bless myself and my daughter and our family and pets and friends and guests and everyone and everything on earth and in the entire universe. Honestly, I do this rather often and certainly as often as I can.
I also try to eat right, too, while at the same time that means allowing myself to indulge in treats that are not necessarily good for you, but somehow hit the right spot regardless. So, you discover, we yoga teachers are human, too!
I try to be a good person, to be respectful of others, to be a good listener, to be caring, compassionate, kind, helpful, honest, and fair. I love and connect with my family and friends, neighbors and community in as many ways and as often as I can.
I try to live a life of integrity and I try to admit when I am wrong and make amends for any trespasses.
And, most importantly I would say, I do my best to stay aligned to my Vision.
I do my best to live my life as an example of one who is dedicated to a particular type of pathway, a spiritual one, a healthy one, a holistic one, though I also play hooky from that role sometimes to indulge in “normal” behavior with old friends who may not follow the same life path as me.
And I do my best to remind myself, especially when I am feeling tired, that I do what I do in order to serve a higher purpose, which is (by way of my own example) to help others to find themselves if they are feeling lost, to gather the pieces and analyze them - what to keep what to let go of, what to focus on next and how to take rightful action in a timely manner to get results.
I hold a space for others to engage in a mind-body-spirit renewal and, since the birth of our daughter this past year, I invite trusted teachers to share their example and inspirational teachings in.
I tend to that space, the aesthetic of it, the functionality of it, and the spirit of it.
I could go on and on but, again, the point I am trying to make is to just do it. Take yearly inventory of your life, of your SELF, and stay attuned to yourself through whatever rituals you feel drawn to and make them a part of your life.
Whatever it is you need to do to stay clear, directed, centered in yourself, that’s what you should be incorporating into your life. Whatever it takes to come back to a state of love and gratitude, to bring you (back) into a state of wonder and joy, to “awaken” and witness to your own life from a higher perspective and be your own best guide and friend…
You don’t have to follow anyone else’s rules. I never could and I certainly never do, though sometimes I may try and this leads me to a feeling of failure, so I let it go and just allow myself to be and unfold naturally into my path, as clumsily or as gracefully as that might feel according to the moment I reflect.
You have to learn to trust yourself. And to do that, you have to spend time getting to know yourself.
Though this post comes a little later than I had hoped, it’s still January, friends, and we’ve just come out of the Mercury Retrograde and happen to be supported by a planetary alignment that is aiding us in moving toward a higher vision, if only we take the time to do this.
It’s still the perfect time for reflecting on the previous year and setting plans in motion for the New Year, so what are you waiting for?
Begin today. Begin this month. Begin right now…
Wishing you best of luck, and if you need help, I’m here and happy to help you move through the Life Path Awakening process.
With love, gratitude and thoughts of peace,