Lately, my morning meditations have consisted of creating journal entries from drawing a random tarot card, and opening to a random passage in the Radiance Sutras.
For over a month I have been trying to get down to the heart of the cards and writings, which have continually prophesized the ideas of letting go, ending achievement-based goals, spirituality, and sacredness.
The idea of not striving for goals is hard for me. Like so many of us, I am a "doer."
I LIVE for victory.
Since opening the door of my first yoga studio twenty years ago, I've been in a constant process of hustling towards success. The moment I rolled out my yoga mat to lead my first class, I started adulting. I exchanged the young woman who would paint eight hours a day, and lay on the floor for hours listening to music, for the adult who would pay bills, and seek acclaim in the form of a zillion classes, conference presenting, article writing, full retreats, new studios and other measures of industry success. There was no stopping it, and truth told, I had no concept of what that success really meant. If you had asked me, "What does personal success look like to you?," I wouldn't have been able to answer, as I was always stuck on the treadmill of what my friends called, "Carrie's next big project." To live like that is exhausting, and it came to a head this year with my becoming ill.
Then a few days ago, I noticed that the treadmill had stopped. I commented to Andrea, "I think someone has hijacked my life."
I looked at my day planner and counted only thirteen things on my to-do list, and noticed that every single one of them is something that brings me pleasure.
This is in stark contrast to my to-do list at the beginning of the year, which was literally three pages. I don't know when it happened or how, but apparently, without my even noticing, my subconscious started stripping away the unnecessary.
My New Year's resolution for 2017 was "courage." On the heels of that horrible election, it seemed like the natural choice. That courage took me to Haiti on a medical mission, to the Women's March on Washington, and got me through a mysterious illness I thought was going to claim my life. Courage served me well.
But perhaps the biggest lesson courage taught me is that it also means saying "no."
Thanks to "no," I've boxed up projects that were half-hearted, and declined many opportunities that, while I knew would bring me joy, would also drain my physical resources.
Then, a few days ago, I found myself listening to a beautiful mediation called "Make it Sacred" on the podcast Live Awake by Sarah Blondin (right). It made me weep. It finally hit on the "thing" I've been trying to name in my readings.
That "thing" is called SACRED PRESENCE.
Learning to say "no" allows for new growth in the vacant space left behind. The space that "no" created allowed me to finally focus on my calling to work with the dying, something that has been gnawing at my psyche to do since I was a kid. Working with the dying requires 100% of your attention. Its very nature demands space and time. Being a death midwife (which btw, I much prefer as a title over "nurse case manager") is sacred work. It has forced me to dive deeply into my roots in ritual and healing arts, and continues to teach me how to sit with discomfort, simply hold someone's hand, look into their eyes, and be still.
And unlike my previous "next big things," this work is quiet and soulful. There is no goal.
It is sacred presence.
So there it is, my unexpected resolution for 2018, sacred presence. I'm going to allow this resolution to spill over into all aspects of my life. To dedicate a year of my life being completely present with myself, my loved ones, and the pieces of my life that bring me deep contentment.
Feel free to borrow my resolution if it speaks to you. May your 2018 find you with no more than thirteen things on your to-do list, and may those thirteen things bring you great, great joy.
I wrote the following this morning in my journal and read it to my yoga students. We practiced today without music, letting our only our breath guide us as we moved through simple Rasamaya elementally-based Sun Salutes. No end goal, no pose to finally master, just complete absorption in body and breath.
100% Sacred Presence: