There seems to be so much accumulated pressure in the air. A time for resolution, desires, wants, manifestations. Dreams for 2024. I am seeing on social media and hearing in conversations this elation of kicking 2023 to the curb and heralding in this new and exciting season of promise for 2024. I am right there with you, in the thick of curiosity and hope. On the other hand, I am also trying to reconcile some of the other teachings of living in flow, for allowing. In a group reading of the Bhagawad Geeta last night a statement stood out to my question, “never can one become established in the practices for one’s own cultural rehabilitation unless one has learnt the art of renouncing all Sankalpa's.”
So, to achieve this, we must somehow, in this culture of goal setting, work hard mindsight, and acquisition, learn to free ourselves from our own wishes and desires.
Well, that’s a head scratcher.
Over the new year’s weekend, I found myself in a beautiful ballroom on the top floor of an iconic hotel overlooking the entire night skyline of San Francisco, surrounded by 300 people I just met this year, at the wedding of the brother of a man I love and adore who I did not know even existed just a short six months prior to this event. I remember looking out the window and taking it all in, saying to the person next to me, “I didn’t imagine myself here.” I felt like I had been sucked through a portal and placed in someone else’s life. The feeling quite literally was awestruck. I suppose it was the juxtaposition that elicited this response.
All around this time last year in the span of 30 short days, my closest friend and partner in life was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I was not sure if she would survive, she wasn’t sure she would survive. My internal landscape was full of fear and grief and anger. On top of that, the person I had been seeing for over a year decided that was the best time to end things. Overnight two of the people I spent the most time with were suddenly removed from my life. I was devastated. And lonely. And sad. I have a Spotify playlist called “soul songs” but it should really be called “get in the shower, ugly snot cry, and remember who you are” because that’s what I did, many times. I also had tools that fortunately I practiced during lighter times, so I maintained a #gratitudejournal, a #meditationpractice, and what I lovingly refer to as “trauma dancing.” Admittedly, I also watched really trashy television. I relied on my teachers, healers, old friends and family that had always been there, new #friends who showed up like magic, enjoyed times with my son, and played with my dog, and moment by moment, piece by piece, I built myself back up to a new state of #wholeness (which was my word for 2023), a me that I didn’t know was possible. A me that is confident and strong, owns her worth, knows her value, and can stand in a room full of strangers dressed in tuxedos and ball gowns and know that I belong, not for what I endured or what I’m wearing or look like, but for who I know I am. The part of me that is the same as that part of you and everyone else.
Through both those scenes, the top of the tower, the puddle of mess in the shower, through all the feelings and moments, behind all the roles, is a part that is untouched. The witnessing #consciousness that is always there. What really happened through all these practices is I learned how to identify with that part of myself more than the external experiences of the world. I learned how to cultivate my own peace, my own stillness, how to look up at the sky and feel #blessed by the sun, at awe with the sunset, and listen to the song of the birds as if the #universe were speaking through them to me. This moment in the ballroom brought me back home to myself again, to the #presentmoment to the awe of it. Yet, it is always there for us, calling us home. Calling us to the now, all we have to really do is take a #deepbreath, and then another, and then another.
A similar situation happened as I was #walking my dog today. Another juxtaposition that snapped me awake, out of my head and into the now. I was listening to the very same playlist on Spotify, “snot cry,” and while I had a beautiful song about surrender and gratitude in my left ear, in my right ear a neighbor on my path was screaming at someone in expletives to let her into the house. I looked briefly, to ensure she did not need assistance because it was that jarring, and then I took a deep breath, grounded myself in the moment, looked at the sky, noticed my steps, and there it was again, presence, peace, awe, joy, the Self.
So, what does this have to do at all with the opening paragraph you may be wondering? I think it’s this. Set the #intention, water the garden, nourish the positive thoughts, do the practices, all the things, knowing in the end the ego has really little control over the outcome, and when we can let go of that, when we can truly surrender to the journey, be present for the journey, cultivate #gratitude through the challenges and for the challenges, that is when the magic portal can truly open in ways our thinking and wishing, that our wanting mind could never imagine. I would have never picked that journey for myself, and I certainly would never have wished that on my friend. In truth, when I picked the word “wholeness” I really intended to read a couple more self-help books, take an online course, like myself a little more, and yet through the lesson in life and the turning in toward the self, the ease and softness and #peace that showed itself through the difficulty was the greatest gift and return to wholeness that I could have been given. The self is always calling the self home to the self, a place to rest and return to at any time.
Through this process of self-remembering we become more and more in tune with our internal landscape. Feelings don’t go away, in fact they become I would say more intense. Yet we let them be, welcome them in, notice how the body feels in response, let them come to us and through us without assigning a “why”. As we become more aligned with our true selves and more present, gratitude is more richly cultivated as we notice the magic and joy that is around us in each moment.
Interestingly, I recently came across two pieces of information related to manifestation. One, that feelings are a required ingredient in #alchemizing what we wish to be. The very thing we cut ourselves off from, told not to give life to, to ignore, push down, avoid, is the very thing that can add more potency to the process of visualization.
The second tidbit was that as we become more and more grateful for our lives, the universe responds by providing more and more to us. Almost as if manifestation, the process of attaining our sankalpas, becomes a byproduct of self-remembering, of returning to our #higherself . The true magic portal being the one that takes us through and to ourselves, to the gift of each and every moment as it is, a moment to accept without judgment. A moment to be.
As Emily Dickinson wrote, “The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.”