Whether we are ambitious resolution makers, or not so much, the New Year undoubtedly brings an opportunity to check in with what we all believe in, what we are dreaming about, and how we can develop the self-awareness and self-love that will allow us to thrive under any circumstances in 2020.
~Entry from Rose’s gratitude journal, 12/31/2019
Consider those last six words: thrive under any circumstances in 2020. Did I have a premonition that 2020 would test our souls? Maybe an intuition that 2020 would be a year of reckoning? Or perhaps it was the symbolism of 2020 as “perfect vision” that led me to think about self-study and the need for us to hone our self-awareness.
Whatever it was that led me to write those words, thriving in 2020 required all the strength of purpose we could muster. It was, indeed, a year of reckoning, when we had to face our inner selves with honest and clarity. We had to redeem and reinvent ourselves from a place of understanding and compassion while honoring our passions and purposes. It meant letting go of things we were used to doing, and how we did them, and rethink our lives within the confines of Covid without giving in to fear, worry, and depression.
Reckoning and renewal are the twin pulses of the yogi’s journey. Yes, 2020 was scary. 2021 is still scary, but I'm choosing to be more hopeful. When we lean into what scares us and resolve to understand it, we take baby steps into our personal reckoning. A reckoning is cleansing, letting us acknowledge our inner strife and adopt an intention to change, to sweep out the old and make gratitude and forgiveness the foundation of our redemption. We begin to thrive. We let go of what “was” and make room for “what is.” We start to understand our right way, our truth, our Dharma, and how to live with purpose.
In the second section of Think Like a Monk, author Jay Shetty tells us we must explore our strengths and question our weaknesses in order to find our Dharma. We must make a reckoning and find how to live with a clear sense that what we do matters. When we achieve that … our renewal … we find our lives are purposeful and have deep meaning.
Dharma is a complex concept, says Shetty, and yet it is simple. You examine your talents and strengths, your passions and skills, and find what you are good at. Then you look at what the world and people around you need, and figure out how you can align those needs with your skills and talents. You learn to seek meaning and as a result, find fulfillment.
Let’s say you love to bake, and your passion is making zucchini breads, cherry pies, and your mom’s molasses cookies to share with others. You love to hear people say, “Roseanne, that was the best gooseberry tart I’ve ever had.” It’s your secret vanity. You preen at the compliments. That’s not dharma, lovelies, sorry. That is seeking an outcome that feeds your ego. But if you make those baked goods for a homeless shelter because you are grateful that you have a roof over your head and are driven to share your blessings, that’s dharma.
Dharma consists of two things: your passions and skills integrated with understanding what the world needs, and selflessly serving others. Once your natural skills and talents align with what the Universe needs, you find your purpose and live your dharma in all things, large and small. Before 2020, many of us hadn’t figured out how to get there. We hadn’t had to, because we were living in a world mired in self-gratification and consumerism. 2020 forced us to let go of many of the worldly activities and “stuff” that filled our pre-Covid lives, and led us to recognize that the love for people, the caring for people, the need for doing for others, is where our hearts are happiest. Our dharma.
I hope that Soul Stretch will be an important part of your journey in 2021. Our belief is that yoga is so much more than something you do for exercise or to relax. Yoga can uplift your whole life and transform the way you see yourself and the world. Yoga is community. And through community, the personal becomes planetary. Reckoning and renewal are fundamental to the times we are experiencing. Make this new year an opportunity to seek your dharma. The Divine is here. God is with you. Wake up, take your soul’s hand, and walk with courageous willingness into a new season of renewal.
May 2021 land gently in our hearts and souls,