Category Archives: Path

Day of Rest: New Year, 2017

pathwithtext

My guiding word for this year was path. The first time I picked a word, after I’d stopped making resolutions, it was retreat. That was followed by freedom, home, and then nourish. Every time, they never turn out exactly as I expect, end up meaning something other than what I predict.

In those years I did other practices at the end of the year, reflecting and projecting. This year I tried a few. I did both December Reflections and Unravel Your Year with Susannah Conway, but only half-heartedly, completely half-assed. Others I normally do and mostly enjoy I skipped altogether, completely opted out. This is a mix of two things — I’m tired and need to rest almost more than anything, and I feel so utterly IN my experience that being quiet feels more appropriate than answering prompts or making predictions.

This is what this year’s word did for me. It allowed me to sink into my practice, to deepen both my discipline and devotion. It made me kinder to myself, which in turn makes me kinder towards others. It taught me how to stay with my experience, not abandon my discomfort or give up and numb out. It gave me courage, vulnerability, the willingness to be wounded, and confidence in the way Susan Piver describes it, “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.” It taught me to be patient, to trust that if I waited I would know what to do. The way I described my word at the start of the year was this:

Path carries with it a sense of devotion — love, loyalty, and enthusiasm. It’s commitment, immersion, dedication, discipline, and joyful effort that springs from a place of love and attention. On a path, there’s a clarity of direction and intention, but also unexpected obstacles and surprising beauty. I show up, open up, stay with what arises without an agenda, thus sinking deeper into my innate wisdom and compassion, experiencing my life more fully. I encounter clarity and simplicity, ease and contentment, stability.

For maybe the first time, what I predicted for my word turned out to be pretty accurate. And now, at the time when normally I’d choose another word, I don’t feel the need to. For a while I toyed with the word “mercy” for 2017, but it didn’t really stick, and I felt particularly unmotivated to find another. Then the other day, I thought to myself (and posted on Facebook), “I think rather than picking a word for the year, I’m going with, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen.'”

bestnine2016

There’s a website (2016bestnine) that will look at your Instagram account and make a collage of the nine most liked images from your account for 2016. These were mine.

 

2016: One Word

bestnineThere’s a website (2015bestnine) that will look at your Instagram account and make a collage of the nine most liked images from your account for 2015. The above is mine. I’m a little surprised there’s no pictures of dogs, and only one food picture, since it seems like those are the kind of pictures I post the most.

I’ve been doing lots of year end things like this lately. Crafting year end reviews, and cultivating new year intentions. Letting go and looking forward. In a meditation this morning with Adreanna Limbach’s 31 Days of Devotion program, I contemplated the suggested question “what do I feel devoted to this year?” I was surprised and not surprised by what came up. There was nothing I hadn’t expected, but I was caught off guard by the intensity of my devotion in regards to some of the things on my list.

  • Health and well-being of my body. The intensity of this one was so strong. The desire was deep to care for it, let it rest, give it lots of water, feed it good food, take it on walks, stretch it, do yoga, lift weights — to be rested, well-fed, and strong, to feel good.
  • Reading and thinking and practicing. This is both in relation to my Buddhist studies and doing for the simple joy of it.
  • Intimacy. This in particular to my relationship with Eric, continuing to explore the ways we can be closer, familiar and connected and content.
  • Joy. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m realizing that when I lost Dexter I let my joy go with him. I’ve been so focused on the bad things that have happened over the past decade, so caught up in preparing for the worst and working with the hard stuff, that I lost my sense of joy. I’d like to open some space for it, invite it back in.
  • Writing. For this blog, for the book I’m writing, for publication elsewhere, for the fun of it.
  • Teaching. Yoga, my Wild Writing Crazy Wisdom workshops, and some online classes — both in service to my students and for my own sake.
  • Simplified, beautified space. With our bathroom remodel, I realized how good it feels to have a beautiful space, beautiful things, and to get rid of what no longer serves us. I want all my space to feel like that — cleared out and full at the same time.

After having picked a guiding word for the past four years, I wasn’t sure if I would this year. Last year’s word didn’t turn out like I expected, and one didn’t seem to be coming to me. I signed up for Susannah Conway’s Find Your Word free class, but I put off reading the emails, doing the work. I thought maybe I just wouldn’t have a word this year.

Then I went on retreat with Susan Piver, and she talked about the necessity of our writing and meditation practices having a path quality to them. I’d been feeling a longing to deepen my Buddhist studies, having taken refuge vows a year ago, so the idea of cultivating a path quality in my life, in my other practices, was very appealing.

I kept coming back to “path” as a possible word for 2016. For the past few days, I was planning to work through Susannah’s emails to be sure, but after listening to Adreanna’s video this morning, practicing with her, listening to her talk about devotion, I knew path was right.

pathwithtextPath carries with it a sense of devotion — love, loyalty, and enthusiasm. It’s commitment, immersion, dedication, discipline, and joyful effort that springs from a place of love and attention. On a path, there’s a clarity of direction and intention, but also unexpected obstacles and surprising beauty. I show up, open up, stay with what arises without an agenda, thus sinking deeper into my innate wisdom and compassion, experiencing my life more fully. I encounter clarity and simplicity, ease and contentment, stability. It’s a good word.