Happy New Year

Last night, the meditation circle I run every Thursday at the Anglican Church center in St. Barth met one final time for this year and for this decade. The meditation circle was started two decades ago, and I took over about halfway through this decade. In the years since, this group has become a spiritual ‘home’ for people looking to begin or deepen their meditation practice. In the years that I have run the group, like the years before, not only do we explore meditation techniques, we also delve into the issues, the challenges, the questions surrounding our experience as human beings.

We have covered themes too numerous to mention here, but are always circling around stillness, peaceful abiding, calming the mind, mindfulness and gratitude.

My work as a transpersonal therapist and yoga instructor looks upon pretty much anything that life brings in the way of experience as an opportunity for personal growth. Included in my toolkit are the shamanic techniques I have learned through my work with my teacher, Don Jose Campos, and through plant medicine, which is to say, through the wisdom of the plants themselves.

Early on, I developed a specific relationship with the plants. The work requires methodology that one must intuitively find and constantly practice. This methodology differs from individual to individual, but for me, it highlighted the power of the question. As a question would form and take shape, it would serve as a voyage captain on a voyage of self-discovery. I also discovered that as the questions are filled with wonder, which is to say, allowing myself to wonder, it would set off a creative process that was based on a bold sense of curiosity and open-mindedness that made me available to hear how life was mirroring the question and goading me gently towards my own answers.

Another technique that arose, and which I have steadily practiced throughout my career as a transpersonal therapist is steeped in what many Latin American writers and artists refer to as magical realism.

Like many of the indigenous approaches to life, magical realism sees not only people as living, but animals, nature and all the forces of it that surround us. This is a wonderful practice that allows one to have a personal relationship with the unseen and opens up a world of mystery, magic and miracles.

For our final meditation, after practicing insight meditation, or vipassana, I instructed my fellow meditators to imagine the new decade looming before it and to welcome it.

As we began to see how this new relationship with the time ahead could be laden with expectations, I suggested that we position ourselves differently by changing our perspective. Instead of looking forward to the decade ahead, we looked back on the decade we are just now capping off.

In 2010, could you possibly have imagined all of what the new decade would bring? As you look back on the events, life experiences, growth and gains that you experienced, often through traversing obstacles and sometimes pain, could you have predicted all that would happen? There were surely things you expected that did come to pass, but as often, there were probably a countless number of things you could simply not have foreseen.

It’s a good thing to remember as we look ahead.
Like in meditation, where we work with the spaciousness that is one of the hallmark characteristics of the true nature of mind, or self, it becomes possible to create the space to welcome the new decade, and each new day we have and to discover how it will be and what

it will mean to us by simply living it. Not thinking about living it, or talking about living it, but allowing it to be what it is, as it is, and showing up fully and mindfully for that.

Welcoming each day, welcoming each year or decade, can also teach us that we can open ourselves up to and wholeheartedly welcome the people who come into our lives, the events and experiences we will experience along the way, and the journey that unfolds as a result.

If you haven’t yet spent a moment to usher in your new year, take a moment before the calendar page changes to open your arms to it in a spirit of friendliness and good will.

I thank all of you reading this blog, and all of you who have walked through the last decade with me, and on December 31, my voice will ring out with voices all around the world to wish you and everyone else a very happy new year with the joy and excitement of a beginner’s mind.

Be safe, be well, be happy and healthy and I look forward to the opportunity to practice yoga and meditation with you, to do personal growth work or go on a retreat, to share a meal with you, swap stories, have an adventure, learn and grow with you.

As the great Ram Dass said, “We are all walking each other home”. Mi casa su casa.

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