In a yoga class I attended on December 30th, the instructor was discussing the transition out of 2010 and into 2011. As she talked about leaving 2010 behind, she said something that struck me so deeply that it is still with me (no easy feat, considering the sheer volume of random thoughts that spin around in my head on a daily basis). She called 2010 "A Year of Challenge and Growth." Was it ever! I had absolutely no idea what I was in for, but after 12 months of challenge after challenge, some big and some small, I realized that I was emerging from 2010 a somewhat different person than when I entered it. No doubt, I still talk so much that sometimes I annoy even myself. I also talk mostly about myself - a flaw of mine that makes me cringe. I have trouble slowing those twirling, whirling thoughts and focusing on just one at a time. And I often watch too much TV and spend too much time on Twitter and Facebook. But in so many ways, 2010 was a year of wiping my slate clean. I was afforded the opportunity to deal with some very deep past hurts and to work through them with my loving family. I learned how to communicate better and become a better listener (something I continue to struggle with), and even how better to verbally support someone I love. And so, inspired by this idea of a clean slate, one on which I can begin building new habits, new relationships, and a better understanding of myself, I decided to sign up for two separate events at my yoga studio: an afternoon of guided meditation and intention-setting for the new year on New Year's Eve and a far more active workshop on New Year's Day in which I was supposed to complete 108 Sun Salutations along with a roomful of people.
If I could adequately describe the peace, serenity, and inspiration that I felt during the New Year's Eve intention-setting workshop, I would. But, I fear that trying to put it into words would take away its specialness, so I won't do it that injustice.
The 108 Sun Salutations on the other hand... I'll spare you the gory details of a studio floor so drenched with sweat at the end that I could merely slide from my mat to the door and of aching muscles that started to refuse to hold me up around 93. I went into that workshop looking for a way to ACTIVELY welcome in the new year. To somehow sweat out 2010 (which I very well may have done) and make room for everything that was to come in 2011. As Aaron might say, to judo chop 2010 into oblivion and become quick allies with 2011. I expected to walk out of the studio feeling invincible, enlightened, and accomplished. Aside from running 3 half marathons, this was physically one of the most challenging things I have done and I was sore for almost a week afterwards. But I walked out feeling somewhat ... agitated. And I couldn't figure out why!!! Was I hungry? Was I dehydrated? (Yes.) Was I tired? I was happy that I'd done it. I felt pretty darn good about myself, in fact. And I figured the effects would kick in at one point or another, although I had no idea what they would be.
Luckily, I think I was right. During this lovely, peaceful, relaxing vacation that I am currently on, I have noticed that I have been more patient, more appreciative of the world around me, and much more focused on the present moment. Those probably don't seem like difficult things to be while on vacation. But, trust me, they can be. Think of it. How easy it is to focus on hurrying to get to the beach and miss the beauty around you; to think only about annoying the talkative person next to you on the plane is and miss the opportunity to listen; to slip your headphones in and turn up the iPod instead of listening to the wind and the waves falling easily onto the sand; to go back to the hotel room, turn on the TV, half-listening to a re-run of an old Friends episode, all the while checking email, updating Facebook, and having a snack (maybe that last one's just me?). While some of that is still going on for me, I have also noticed how quick I am to take a deep breath and smile, rather than let a slightly annoyed feeling creep over my entire body when traffic on the island (I know, poor me) is creeping along at a slower-than-glacial pace. I have noticed the beauty of this place in a whole new way and have allowed myself to dream about the future (which, of course, includes one of those beautiful beach houses), but not lose sight of the present. I am feeling quieter on the inside and suspended in this little bubble of contentedness, even while the world around me seems to spin increasingly out of control.
I know I'm a little late to the game, but Happy New Year, everyone!