Welcoming 2014

I know plenty of people are busily getting started on their new year’s resolutions or goals, and recently talked with someone that decides on a word that they want their life to embody for the year, such as “courageous” or “accepting” or “generous” which I thought was an approach with a slightly different twist that could be applied to many aspects of life.  I’m not one for new year’s resolutions, as I believe if you want to make a change or adopt a challenge, the present moment is usually as good as any.  This year though, I’m starting the year pondering my yogic path and contemplating the application of the eight fold path in my life.

As I re-read the eight fold path of Patanjali’s sutras and think about them, I am considering how some of them can seem to be conflicting – such as “do no harm” and “truthfulness.”  I think we often think that if we are to do no harm, we can’t always tell the truth and need to keep things bottled up inside of us.  However, if we keep things bottled up are we really doing no harm?  We may not harm others by withholding that specific thought, but we are possibly harming ourselves, our relationships and ultimately not being truthful, which can create bigger problems.

Mind you, I am not advocating for running off at the mouth with every thought that runs through your mind without regard for consequence, but it is important to remember that we all have different opinions, different backgrounds and values so eventually we will encounter someone who is offended by our views and world stance, or at least sees takes exception with our position.  This doesn’t mean we need to become enemies, or that our friendship has to end.  We can express our truths compassionately and accept differences graciously, minimizing the harm we might cause and creating a greater dialogue, even strengthening our relationships.

The world is short one man who truly embodied much of this.  A high school classmate passed away unexpectedly earlier this week.  While I haven’t seen Mike since we left high school with diplomas in hand, we had reconnected through Facebook. Mike was the cheerful face I knew from 7th – 12th grades, who seems to have been everybody’s friend .  Being alphabetically right next to Mike in the list of our classmates meant I got to see him everyday at our alphabetically placed lockers and I don’t think he ever let me return his cheery good morning with a grumbled one of my own, instead repeating his greeting until I responded with a smile.   Mike’s Facebook posts could express his views on political and cultural issues and create a thoughtful and thought provoking  discussion, not a series of finger pointing.   With his gentle, friendly, caring ways it’s clear to see that Mike touched many lives with his own applications of do no harm and truthfulness and won’t soon be forgotten.  I’ll continue to think of Mike and his gracious, caring spirit each year on our shared birthday as I wish his twin, Bernie, the best.

Process Focused or Outcome Oriented?

Reviewing the titles of recent blog posts, my answer to this question is even more obvious than it first seemed.  I didn’t doubt that I was more outcome oriented than processed focused, but when 3 of my recent posts have the word “complete” in the title it seems clear that I’m really concerned about the end goal and might want to shift my thinking it a little.

This isn’t to say that goals are bad or I shouldn’t care about the outcome, but that taking time to focus on the process to get to a goal or accomplish a task makes a difference.  One of the things I’ve been outcome focused on lately is the completion of my 20 hour project that caps off the 200 hour Yoga Alliance approved teacher training that I’m completing through Yoga Source Los Gatos.  I’ve been so focused on the timeline that I have set in my head to finish by that I haven’t spent much time thinking through the process of completion.

As I’m working through the project (almost half way there at this point), I’m focusing on the process of learning and enjoying actually experiencing the process and project.

Focusing on outcomes can really take away from experiencing and enjoying the  journey to get to the desired goal.  Something that I heard during the most recent weekend training about living in the moment really resonated with me and makes me want to enjoy the process more than focusing on the end goal – If you aren’t living in and thinking about this moment, you are worrying about the  unchangeable past or unpredictable future.