A new year

May this new year bring you peace of mind, a compassionate heart, and many blessings.

I am dedicating this year to Tara goddess of compassion. May everything I do be taken as thy worship. O divine mother.

This year I don’t want to try so hard to be where I’m not. The more I struggle to get ahead the more I struggle. 2017 saw me push myself out of my comfort zone, but not entirely for the right reasons. I am grateful for all that I learnt in the reinvention process, but like the wheel, I am back to where I started. Almost. A little more relaxed.

I want 2018 to be a little softer than the year before. When I have the good fortune to be making choices about the kind of life I want to live I want to choose my peace of mind over ambition. There are so many things out of my control that I need to contend with. I don’t need to try so hard to prove myself against the challenges I create for myself. This year is about setting small attainable goals that I can practice with a compassionate heart.

My new years resolutions:

  • Practice yoga & meditation first thing in my day
  • Keep a daily journal
  • Read lots of good books
  • Find more joy in cooking & cleaning at home
  • Get on top of my finances: pay down debt & cut down convenience spending
  • Drink scant if any
  • Limit online time between tasks as filler in my day
  • Build physical strength and stamina
  • Work more and better. Work to a schedule.

My daily yoga practice begins with a divine light invocation, a standing meditation taught at the Yasodhara Ashram, then two sides of jivamukti sun salutations with measured breath followed by 5 minutes of intuitive stretching and 10 minutes of savasana. I close with the Divine Mother prayer and either a moment of silent gratitude or chanting. This is the routine that I developed in Montreal that carried me through those hard three months, and it’s based on the practice I created for myself after moving home from Rossland, another dark period. I am committing to completing it first thing in the day before I look at my phone or make breakfast. I’ve recently moved in with my boyfriend which is notoriously a hard time to commit to rigorous practice. However, it’s important to my sense of security that I put my air mask on first even if that means getting up a little earlier so I have the space to do that in.

I am motivated to keep a daily journal of my progress after reading about John Steinbeck. There are many artists and thinkers that maintain the importance of a journal practice. It’s always been part of my practice, often daily, but seldom particularly directed. After studying alongside my friend Thomas Siebel at the Yasodhara Ashram I picked up some useful tricks to organize my writing, but also to think of it as a more exacting tool like a barometer or microscope rather than a steam vent.

I barely touched a book until the latter half of the year in 2017, and then I was in such a desperate state of mind I inhaled around 30 books in 3 months. I would like to keep the momentum up for my peace of mind. There is a tranquillity in reading that is hard to capture anywhere else. Yet so often I convince myself that “I don’t have time” to sit down with a book completely discounting the respite of just a few pages taken in a moment’s pause.

Something I have come to realize in my attitudes towards the maintenance of my home and even my body is that this is somehow unimportant work. As a feminist I might spew stats on valuing women’s work and the importance of these nurturing roles. However, personally, in the way I have been living my life, I have believed that there will be time for that later, or that someone else will do it, or that these are the personal sacrifices required for success. It’s sucked a lot of joy out of my life. Both because I have been living in a state of disrepair, but also because I’ve denied my own satisfaction in domestic life. At the ashram it was interesting to note that my favourite area to volunteer in was not the garden but house keeping duties. I got to experience the immense satisfaction of making a bed just so, the smell of folding fresh laundry, the joy of bringing order and beauty to the dark dusty corners that I don’t normally take pause to appreciate. Of course there is something different about doing chores in a beautiful tranquil estate on a lake in the mountains, but I recognize how much my own beliefs about the kinds of work that are worth doing effect my peace of mind.

Last year it didn’t seem to matter how much I worked, or how much I saved, or how many extra gigs I picked up, I couldn’t get ahead of my finances. The elephant in the room was that I was so focused on investing my finances into “my future” that I wasn’t paying attention to what was happening right now. I was able to hit some important financial goals, but the sacrifices made to get there ended up not being worth it. This year my biggest financial goal is to not live in the future with it, but just be more mindful of where it’s needed in this moment. I have debts that I deprioritized paying so that I could move to Montreal only to end up back in Saskatoon carrying the same amount of debt as the year before. I have bad habits of over scheduling my day to the point that I need to throw money at a problem in order to meet basic conditions of living like eating, sleeping, and getting around. I like to be generous with my money, but sometimes go beyond my means because of emotional spending. I want to get to a place where financial concerns aren’t stealing my peace of mind.

I experimented with sobriety a few times in 2017. Although I don’t think it is a lifestyle I am ready to commit to, I did see a lot of benefit. First of all financially, but also emotionally. It seemed that too much of a good thing though can have the opposite effect. Everything in moderation including moderation.

It’s long been obvious that the internet offers the same sort of double edged sword as a night of imbibing. Both at their best are a great means to unwind, have some fun, and be social. But both can also tend towards more antisocial behavior when not consciously consumed. Last year having a piece of shit SE iPhone meant that slowly none of my apps worked thus automatically limiting the amount I could be online, then at the ashram I remembered the joy of carrying a book in it’s place for those awkward windows of time we seek to distract ourselves. Having just gotten a new android phone with limitless potential I am wary of sliding into old habits.

Exercise for the sake of exercise is another habit I started to play with at the end of 2017. I found it enjoyable to practice at if hard to maintain. I’ve just downloaded a 30 day trial of a personal trainer app which I am going to experiment with to give my practice structure. If I can give up the thinking about what to do next part of exercise I think I can focus on the joy of being in a body that moves.

This last one is taken from Woody Guthrie, as are a couple others. Even though my shoulders tense reactively to hear the plain directive, they also light a fire in my stomach and blood in my cheeks. I’m ready. This is a lifelong mission to create more and better. But there is no harm in stating my intention again. Last year I didn’t make anything new. I was so focused on getting to Montreal I turned down any other opportunity or impulse. It took a lot of energy to manifest that dream, but now that I’ve cleared the pipes I’m ready to direct that energy elsewhere.

Om Tara.