January 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
In my limited experience, there really isn’t a better reset for the mind and spirit than making the decision to travel to a secluded place, surrounded by nature, where one can unplug from the myriad identities we play everyday across our different relationships. The really beautiful places that are worth your time require some effort to get there – in this case, a 3-hour drive up north to the Sea Ranch, with half to a third of the journey unfolding along a wild and rugged Sonoma Coast. The absence of cell reception was a boon, although WiFi in the condo required a degree of self-control. Considering I managed to resist Facebook the whole week (this, from someone who checks it first thing in the morning and last thing at night), and avoided emails as far as possible, I’m going to count that as a win which (partly) justifies the daily forays on Instagram. Surrounded with so much beauty in the landscape, I really could not help myself.
While there, we did a private with Dominic Corigliano who was in town to visit family. 1.5 hours of Mysore-style practice followed by 2 hours of socializing and talking about everything from India, Guruji, technology, Indian supermarkets in the Bay Area, lucid dreaming, language, and medicinal patches for aches and pains. There was one thing he said about ‘right relationship’ that dovetailed with my intention for the week (and the new year): about reaching a place in life where one doesn’t feel like one “has to” do, want or be anything.
I found this observation profound. “Right relationship”. What does it really mean and how can I bring more of it into my life? It’s not just relationships with people, animals, the natural world, but with myself and the habits that accumulate and eat up my attention. It requires another level of awareness I think, to catch yourself in-process of an unconscious habit you’re trying to break. Sort of learning how to cultivate more lucidity in your life: noticing when you’re riding the train of thoughts in meditation, to see when your mind is wandering in the asana practice and to bring it back to the breath, to realize when you’ve ‘left’ a conversation with the person in front of you….it goes on, and life becomes one long practice of cultivating the same skill of awareness – of always knowing who you are, where your center is, and understanding what the moment is all about.
At the start of every year I like to set a theme for the coming 12 months. I don’t believe in resolutions but themes, ideas grounded in intention that can be recalled in a line or a word, that I can handle. A mantra, you could say. For 2014, that theme is lucidity, encapsulating my intention for more authenticity in my personal life (changing habits), with my relationships (discernment about those worth cultivating and those that are not), and with professional opportunities that come up. It sounds deceivingly simple, but will give me plenty to chew on for 12 months. Which means I won’t get bored (always a risk). Happy 2014.