This afternoon I went to a restorative yoga session which included long periods of meditation and gourmet stretches. Perhaps I was meant to be listening to my breath during the meditations, but instead I came out of it with four rules for the new year.
- Protect myself
- Do my job
- Seek moments in which to receive and to give kindness
- Seek new experiences
In that order.
Protecting myself means conserving my health, resting when I get creaky or weak, and avoiding foul influences. I also remember the story of the meditation teacher whose students were restless because cars were passing by outside their retreat, and dogs were barking. The teacher said, “Those drivers and those dogs are not making noise to bother YOU. They are going about their own business. You are here and they are there.” Shutting out the noise is a big part of protecting oneself.
Doing my job will mean watching over those I love or who depend upon me. Also keeping my home in order, writing with consistency, daring, and care, contributing my best efforts to my church and my choirs, and being a sensitive citizen.
Kindness is the lubricant for every relationship, and is necessary because little can be accomplished alone. Sometimes you have to haul off and smack someone, but often an extreme reaction is avoidable with a little attention and creativity; in other words, a little kindness.
We have new experiences every day, but I hope I can be more aware of them. Today I had two new experiences. First, I went out without my glasses. I haven’t done that since I was a teenager. It was fine. Second, the yoga teacher asked us to stretch out our arms and touch the outstretched fingers of the people next to us. Then she asked us to turn to our buddy to the right and to the left and say our name. The young man to my left looked at me almost with fright – he had unexpectedly found himself face to face with a grandmother – he couldn’t bring himself to say his name, paused, and then mumbled it and blushed. I was blushing too. It felt strangely intimate. My holistic doctor calls these experiences “stretches.” He once suggested that I go into the 7-11 and ask at the counter where the 7-11 was. It took me two weeks before I dared to do that. He suggested to another patient that she sing a song in the subway.
I wonder what your rules will be for 2016.