Thursday, January 22, 2009

I love winter sunsets. There’s something about how low the sun is in the sky. There’s something about that sweet moment when gold bathes the treetops and sends it’s brilliant hue across the leaves. In this moment, gazing out over the sky, the trees, the sky beneath the clouds, that I feel that no matter what has happened today, there is something beautiful about this life. Amidst all of my frustrations, difficulties, pettiness, challenge, unhappiness, wishing things were different, the setting sun and the light it shoots out uplifts my heart. I feel lighter, more joyous.
I have to remember that life is all of these things: it is the challenge, it is the despair, it is the agony, the fear. Every time we want it to be easy, every time we want things to fall in our laps, every time we want the solution to appear before us, we have to remember the glory, the joy of solving the problems, of crossing the finish line, of training and sweating and struggling.
I’m reminded of the fact that bone density, whether we’re considering building or maintaining, is triggered by the stress applied to the bone by the surrounding musculature. Bones only grow, they’re only strong, when we place some mechanical stress upon them. It’s not unlike the lives we lead. We need the adventure, the drama, the difficulty. And sometimes, when it’s missing, we create it and manufacture it.
We may get caught up in things that seem to be of dire importance, life or death decisions, even if they’re not. When they’re not easy, when someone makes a comment that rankles, when we argue or stick to our guns or question our decisions, we may question, waffle, wonder, struggle. But it’s all important. It is.
And then, watching the sun set, I feel like I’ve made the right decisions. Even the ones I’ve bungled terribly. And I feel oh-so-very-lucky to have this day.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The easy part is making New Year’s Resolutions. The easy part is drafting a list, setting goals, coming up with plans and wishes and desires and creating intentions. The more challenging part is the day to day transforming intentions into actions.
Manifesting New Year’s Resolutions and making them part of our daily routine, our very breath and our embodied experience of who we are is the real practice. This is the tapas, the fire of our discipline. It is in the fire that our practice is forged, and who we are as a person is shaped and formed. Just like building a fire and keeping it going, the practice of integrating resolutions in our everyday life takes attention and awareness. Transmuting a New Year’s Resolution into a habit involves daily decisions where we choose to take a specific action. We tend to live our lives in familiar grooves, from pattern to pattern like continually driving a car down a muddy dirt road. When the tire tracks create deep grooves in the road, it is easy to drive down those same paired grooves. It takes more effort to drive the car along another path. This is what it is like when we try and create new habits and incorporate them into our lives. We have to gently coax our steering wheel, our tires, onto another track. We have to peer at the map and set a different route than the one that may have been chosen automatically by the GPS. But with enough repetitions of the new pattern, it becomes ensconced in our bodies. With enough time, the new becomes familiar. People say it takes anywhere from 28 to 40 days to create a new habit and for that habit to become part of our bodies, part of the routine of our everyday lives. Embodied thought.
I thought about this while gazing in the bathroom mirror this morning. One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year is to floss my teeth, one of the repeated recommendations of my dentist that I diligently repeat for a while before the intention falls away. It’s time to recommit and to remind myself that the implementation of this resolution comes in the daily decisions, in deciding to pick the dental floss up off of the counter and actually use it. Every day. Every day it’s a new decision, and that new decision creates a new habit. Soon, the resolution is part of our everyday lives, integrated as fully as the breath, practice made personal.