Lunar New Year Intentions

For several years now, I've been experimenting with an extended New Year awareness.  I don't set a January 1st resolution (full disclosure - I haven't been up at midnight for several years now, but that has more to do with motherhood).   I've tied many of my daily rhythms to lunar cycle awareness, which includes celebrating the lunar new year.  Between Jan 1 and the next new moon I sit with ideas for intentions and let them percolate.  By the lunar new year, I’m ready to commit to a few ideas for shaking up my daily life.

It's taken me longer to settle on intentions this year.  But yesterday things clicked and I chose three lunar new year resolutions based on the theme of conscious living.

Pay Attention   I used to regularly set aside time to be tech free - nightly before bed and a weekly ritual silence for a few hours of family time with devices shut off.  As I slip further into motherhood, I've neglected this practice, spinning my wheels faster and faster to try and keep up and keep moving.  I try my best to say off computer and phone when my son is around, but am more hooked than ever in the time I have without him - eating breakfast alone, walking to and from appointments or meetings, sitting on the couch with my husband after our boy has gone to bed.  I'm equally disappointed with myself and addicted.  New year intention number one - conscious eating and walking.  I (re) commit, starting today, to just walk when I am walking and just eat when I am eating.  I will (try and) resist the urge to pick up my phone at the table alone and walking to and fro.  I commit to connecting with myself and the city around me. 

Moon Angels I love staying in tune with the lunar cycle through daily inspiration from Ryan Rebekah Erev's Moon Angels.  These cards provide thought provoking art and guiding descriptions for each day of the cycle from waxing to waning moon.  I've drifted from including these in my morning practice and have missed the ritual.  Today they are back and not a moment too soon.  Many of the systems in our country - political, corporate to name a couple - are dominated by a deeply ingrained patriarchy.  In itself, this solar powered energy we often associate with masculine qualities is not wrong.  But over centuries this way of living and governing has taken root to the exclusion of other ways of functioning and our systems are out of balance, serving only a few rather than all.  Lunar energy is linked to the feminine, to qualities of creativity, calm, and intuition.  Power is expressed in a very different way than we've come to know in our culture.  When we who live in a society dominated by the masculine/sun energy start to pay attention to the feminine/moon energy, we invite a shift towards balancing these two opposites.

Activism  Eight years ago I was inspired, like many, to go into public service following the election of Barack Obama.  I pursued a job with a councilmember at Seattle City Hall.  Two years later I left to pursue a Masters Degree in Sustainable Food Systems and, disillusioned with shortcomings, bureaucracy, and lack of creativity in government, never returned.  I stopped following local politics and grew complacent about (and took for granted) a national progressive agenda.  Eight years later I feel despair and anger at the election results and the decisions currently being made in Washington DC by mostly white, male political leaders.  I am inspired to activism, to an awake and conscious life that comes out of being and living according to a feminine, creative, compassionate rhythm.  

Conscious living - that's my motto for 2017.  Perhaps you'd like to join me?

Effort and Ease

IMG_3108I've struggled to put up a post the past few weeks. when I had the words at my fingertips, I picked up a book instead of my keyboard. I lost what I wanted to say. I waited, and waited and waited...for all the thoughts in my head to form into something profound, for the perfect moment to sit down and write, for the stars to align. Maybe someday that post will make its way here, but today i was inspired by the mild day, mellow sunlight and dwindling darkness to invite a little ease into my life. I had a lot of expectations for January. I planned to dive right back into my pre-holiday schedule with renewed commitment and focus. and then I caught a bad cold and was forced to take it slow for a couple of weeks. As I healed, I realized something pretty obvious (but somehow had escaped my conscious awareness), that January is just as dark as December and all I wanted to do was hibernate. I have the luxury in my life right now of setting a schedule that is aligned with the rhythm of the seasons and I've noticed the changing ratios of darkness and the light affect me more. So, I set aside my big plans and let myself be. Last week I felt like I was ready to try again. We're still in winter, but I feel the promise of spring. The days are a little longer now, there's a bit of freshness in the air.

This morning I returned to one of my favorite practices - 90 minutes of pranayama, meditation and Sutras study with Jo Leffingwell. Two of my teachers have studied with her and I am quite humbled and honored to learn from Jo myself. As we sat today, I remembered something she gave voice to in a previous practice - referring to the exhale as "releasing the breath." Over and over today I cycled through "inhale and release, inhale and release." Eventually this gave way to a sense that the expectations of thinking mind could surrender, dissolve, and blend into a hopefulness of the heart. For me, hope is a little more gentle, it carries a sense of ease that is missing from expectation.

The beginning of February seems like a good time to refresh. Perhaps you set a New Year's resolution that you've stuck to doggedly. Inhale and release...soften your goal into a hopeful intention. Maybe January came and went and you never really found your sense of direction for the year ahead, or you made a resolution and forgot it. Take five minutes to sit in quiet, observe your breath, release any lingering frustration and find a little lift with the inhale. See if you can taste the coming spring. Discover that sweet spot between effort and ease. This is the practice of yoga.

(Yoga Sutra 2.46 | sthira sukham asanam - asana must have the dual qualities of alertness and relaxation)