As we begin a new year, may you make an ever-increasingly courageous dedication to embody the force of love. There is no healing power greater than this force on earth. It takes only a cursory read of headline news to see how the absence of love creates profound suffering. May you work to cultivate connection, compassion, and empathy. In the process not only do you transform, but so does the world.
If you enjoy reflecting on the intersection of philosophical musings about love and neurobiology, consider reading A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis, M.D., Fari Amini, M.D., and Richard Lannon, M.D. The final chapter of this wise and poetically composed book transformed me. As a new mother, I read it over and over again while living abroad in Bogota, Colombia. These three professors of psychiatry at UCSF note that “mammals need relatedness for their neurophysiology to coalesce correctly” and that “healthy development is an effort, not a given.”
So make the effort to connect. Make the effort to love.
2. Practice Yoga.
Whether you are completely new to asana practice or take delight in the joyful flow of a challenging posture sequence, dedicate time to nurture this wise practice of cultivating mindful movement and stillness.
I find my home in the Kripalu Yoga tradition. Kripalu translates to “compassion” and Kripalu Yoga is known for its creative sequencing, emphasis on meditation, and compassionate approach to developing nonjudgmental awareness. May yoga practice, on and off the mat, become an ever-increasingly important feature of the new year. May you be blessed with the fruits of this healing and beautiful approach to life.
There are seven billion of us on this planet. Seven billion. Each unique, irreplaceable and yet, also united in our common and basic needs. Consider the vital importance of safety, clean water, access to health care, and education. These are central for the healthy development of not only children, but also for the adults who care for them. Now consider that one billion members of our human family live on less than the purchasing power of a single US dollar a day and each day, according to UNICEF, around 27,000 children die due to poverty-related conditions. Each day.
We can change this.
Serve with mighty effort and work to transform structures of poverty, racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression. May we all be blessed with a more just and fair world by the end of this precious year.
4. Turn Up The Music And Dance.
Rumi, the famous 13th century Muslim mystic wrote: “He who knoweth the dance, dwelleth in God.”
I need add nothing more to this point.
5. Sit In Silence.
Finally, as we dive into this new year, may you be blessed with the profound wonder and wisdom that unfold through the practice of meditation. Sit in silence every day. Intentionally put aside all distraction. Sit up tall. Softly close your eyes. Notice your breath and make room for the gentle unfolding of wise silence within your soul.
Meditation is associated with many peer-reviewed, scientifically proven benefits to one’s overall wellbeing. That’s wonderful. Yet, meditation offers even greater benefits. In time, it clearly reveals the stunning and vital truth of oneness. As Buddhist Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh notes, “We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.”
We are one human family. We share one powerful life energy.
In the spirit of this oneness, I offer up these words of blessing.
Happy New Year!