February 2, 2014

Watch 2014

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become your character.
And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
(Source: attributed to Frank Outlaw and several others)

My teacher opened the first yoga class of the year on Jan 1st with these words, creating an introspective intention for this year ahead. The essence of the message is “we become our thoughts”. To choose who we wish to be, we must choose what we think.

Now at first, it seems that our thoughts just pop in and out any which way but closer observation suggests that our thoughts are the sum of our experiences. Our environment, our families, our friends, the books we read, the movies we watch, the people we follow on Facebook, Twitter, blog feeds or the news, the teachers we’ve had, the coworkers we engage with daily all influence our view of the world. Yet, we do not accept each advice we receive, each rumor we hear, we like some movies and dislike others – we choose what we let in.

Three ways to choose what we let in:
1) Start positively
Each morning, let us set an intention for one thing we will do on that day that is of personal value. Maybe it is finishing a work assignment on time, going to the gym, having a leisurely family dinner or finally returning an overdue library book. Or maybe it is a little ritual to do each morning like a leisurely cup of tea or a few pages of writing to clear thoughts. I like to read from Eknath Easwaran’s Daily Thought to set an intention for each day.
http://www.easwaran.org/thoughts-for-the-day-quotes.html Some days I read before work and some days I blog. I’ve been making myself a warm quinoa porridge or a choco-peanut butter banana smoothie for breakfast.
We create momentum by foreseeing and acting on future needs or by catching up on the tedious items long procrastinated. We form and store energy in congenial company. Allow ourselves to be happy that we have done something that was good for today and will make tomorrow better.
2) Immersion
Read more books, watch more movies about the things we care about so that we learn more, understand more and thus change more. Whatever we choose, if it is climate change, world hunger, our own health, let us educate ourselves by investigating widely and diversely on the topic. Try to spend just 10 minutes of each day in immersion or deliberation. Create a habit of thinking about what is important to us, as our thoughts align with our core values, it becomes easier to create new habits.
This year I want to create a habit of meditation. I created a personal reading syllabus of six books on meditation and philosophy. To concretize my goal I set a target date for completion by the end of the year. On the days when i find it hard to sit in meditation, I can still read about it to inspire myself and remind myself of its importance.
3) Practice gratitude
At the end of each day, let us remind ourselves of one thing that we are thankful for. A beautiful sunset, a smile from a child, a message of love, a chance courtesy from a stranger. Each day, I look forward to hearing the bird song in the trees. Some days I watch for a sighting of the moon. And then there is the serenity at the end of a yoga class. Or the days my husband cooks dinner when I am too tired. The occasional letter or call from a long time friend that warms the heart. A melody on the radio that brings forth a happy memory makes me thankful for both melody and memory.
As we begin to look for these things during the course of a day, we become more aware of the present and the opportunity to participate and create such a moment for others in our daily encounters. We become grateful for the opportunity to give.

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