Friday, January 08, 2010


Happy New Year, My Friend!

Don't you just love the excitement of new beginings? They contain within them all of the possibilities and dreams we have for how life could be. Many people write lists of changes they'll make, attitudes they'll adopt, and bad habits they are committed to transforming. Like new love or springtime, the energy of beginnings is an aphrodisiac - positively intoxicating! In the yoga tradition this relates to Brahma and Saraswati - the Creative Energy. This spark is quick and explosive; it's the 'ah' hidden in the beginning of a chanted "OM."

However, as we find ourselves now just one week into the New Year you may notice that already some of that excitement has burned off. The hard work of change reveals itself to be more demanding than previously believed. Many people feel that if their efforts aren't met with immediate results than the goals are unattainable, and so not worthy of pursuit. Or they find boredom slipping into excitement's place, and they forget the inspiration for the desired changes. The phase that follows the creative spark of beginnings in the energy of Sustenance and Preservation, symbolically represented by Vishnu and Lakshmi; it is the longest part of a chanted "OM." Because this phase has the longest duration one needs tremendous focus and discipline to stay the course. It is during this phase of life that our mettle is tested. Like boulders in a river, we are shaped and smoothed by the force of life's current. I believe this is where we discover who we are, what we are capable of; it is also where and when we can genuinely enjoy this existence.

The "MMM" part of a chanted "OM" represents the ending, the dissolution, or the destruction of the thing. This is the energy of Shiva and Kali. It's the closure we all yearn for at the end of a bad relationship, and it's also the loss of something we hold dear and feel devastated without. It's the Savasana of an asana class; bedtime of any day; 11:59 pm on December 31. This phase often provides clarity and immediacy, and often reveals our deepest values and what we hold most dear.

What's exciting to notice is that this "OM Cycle" (so named by the lovely Manorama Devi ji) is continuous. Every ending leads to a new beginning; everything that is still vital can be infused with extra energy; relationships can be transformed; what hasn't happened yet doesn't have to happen; what is happening now has never happened before. It's like hundreds of people singing "Row Row Row Your Boat" in 'rounds,' each one starting when the previous singer hits "gently down the stream." Every where you look you will find different phases of this cycle.

Another word for OM is Pranava, which translates to mean "That which is ever new." And so as the 'new-ness' of 2010 begins to fade, if your mind tries to seduce you back to sleep with phrases like 'been there, done that,' or 'same ol' same old,' carefully bring your attention to the continuous flow of life, and realize that your experience of being alive is unfolding one breath at a time. Maybe what we’re all heading toward is the experience of the three audible parts of the OM cycle happening simultaneously in the present moment; the ‘Atha,’ the NOW. Perhaps through careful observation of the flow of life each moment will reveal the excitement of new beginnings, the comfort of what is familiar, and the sweet sadness of letting go. Maybe this is the reminder each of us needs to live consciously, conscientiously, with veracity, tenacity and love!

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