Endings Create Beautiful Beginnings

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"Just as the caterpillar thought her world had come to an end, she changed into a butterfly."
—Anonymous

 

When things feel shaky, stressful and out of control for me, I retreat to my consistent and safe spaces of home and solitude, family, friends, art making and the simple act of laying still on the ground which leads me into my yoga practice. Feeling a solid sense of stability in each of those things helps to settle my brain, nervous system and my breath towards an even sense of balance as my full self. Likewise, as the third yoga sutra states, 'Tada Drastuh Svarupe Vasthanam', (I'll paraphrase), the natural goal of our essence is to live in our true nature as oneself.  In working towards that, my intention as an artist is to express universal themes. It is through that exercise, for myself that I appreciate and internalize the point of yoga, which by definition means union. The lessons from that which we can all benefit, is to know thy self better. And through all of this, as well as my experiences, I've come to weave an understanding from which I have learned and earned much insight.

New experiences of ANY kind constitute change. Letting go of, or moving away from what is familiar often creates anxiety which causes stress and suffering for us. As human beings, we anticipate change to be rather uncomfortable, and in our attempt to avoid such distress, we sometimes get in our own way. We subsequently become stuck, stagnant or hung up on our personal fears. Change in the form of endings and beginnings occur hand in hand with every moment. IF, we can meet the transition from one to the next within this constant cycle without fear, and move forward with the fertile, fresh and clean mind of a beginner, we can begin to view starting over as an opportunity for reset, growth, good and something positive at any junction. When we are given the opportunity to begin differently, we are then able to make room for adventure or to simply move forward with a new perspective. This effort can only truly happen with a heart that is fully open to a range of possibility. To begin again with the rich benefit of our past, its lessons and experiences, we are empowered to work smarter and with more awareness, information and clarity.

Life overall becomes incredibly unclear and out of balance when we are faced with the confusion that comes with major changes in life such as the end of a marriage; the loss of a job; livelihood, a loved one or the loss of health or cancer diagnosis. Everything feels out of control. When experiencing such deficits, all you want is what everyone else seems to have: a perfect life, a great sex life, a meaningful partnership, financial stability, no worries, and good health. What some of us do is swing in and out of rational and irrational thoughts about how you've failed your life, yourself and your own body. Then we flip that into how our bodies have failed us; how our life is no longer the one we want, or how the not so perfect life we previously had all of a sudden looks sooooo much better than this deficient one we inhabit. You basically just feel damaged and done. I certainly did. For some, this is the experience we share. And as one year comes to an end, it creates an anxious preparation for the new one upcoming on the horizon. In many cases, there is anxiety about what was not achieved in the year that is about to end. This sense of dread leaves many of us unaware of whether or not we have the tools to manage—or not manage what is unknown. Do we even know how to use those tools until we begin our attempt at moving away from our impending and imagined stress? If we begin to accept what did or did not happen in our year and in our lives, then learn to give ourselves relief and comfort, we will be able to carry that support with us as we move on and start again.

Therefore, my advice to all is to free yourself from New Year's Resolutions! They're an unnecessary form of torture that we don't need to put ourselves through. Resolutions are confining and typically created in anguish about what hadn't happened in the year that is ending. And the things that we usually 'choose' to resolve in the new year aren't very fun. They're things we hope to 'do better this time around' and things that set us up to be stressed out, anticipate failure, or not unlike vitamins and kale are —  supposed to be 'good' for us. Which on one level may be valid and rational, but forget all of that! Those things that are NOT designed to truly make our hearts sing. They are things that we choose as responsible adults attempting to achieve some heady ideal that is far removed from who we really are and what we really want for ourselves. As adults, we already HAVE enough of those 'responsible' shackles to deal with —so, why add more to that list? Our inspiration for the new year should NOT be like homework.  It should be medicine for your soul and contribute an energetic boost for your true being that will stay with you through out the entire year. Your New Year's plan for yourself is meant to add an extra layer of you TO YOU that makes YOU more of who you are! Celebrate your desires and another year as you! As much of your life is meant to be as fun as YOU can design for you. (Around of course, all the grown up things that are less fun.) Begin each new year by planning something you've never tried before, traveling to a new place or taking a class to learn something that you've always wanted to learn. Read that book you've been meaning to read—even if it's only 1 page per day. Get on it. Big or small, whatever you choose, let it be something that you anticipate making you feel like a kid. (As my friends will confirm that is my criteria most of the time as well as for most things worth doing.) Give yourself a treat or a little adventure! At the very least, you deserve that stimulation. New is stimulation, energy and a jump start! For years, my philosophy has been to start over in every sense especially in the new year with some plan to do one something fun and new. Something that can be repeated could it be an extra enjoyable experience for you, or something that you will never forget. Par take in creating a memory that you can look back on when you're really old and can re-enjoy or be impressed with yourself in retrospect.  If you truly think it will be a fun and new adventure for you, put it on your list AND do it! That event will lead you to other things.

Over the years, the things that have been on my list for the new year were fun adventures that gave birth to the next defining experiences in my life as well as meeting grounds for where I met some of the people who are now most incredibly dear to my life. Each opened me up acting as mini-life lines keeping me closely connected to the development of my joy and the empowerment of me. My list has included: salsa dance lessons; taking that initial yoga class with a friend; visiting Miami; finding a Miami art gallery to work with and exhibit my artwork; pursuing a new degree post undergraduate (Creative Arts Therapies); doing various yoga teacher trainings; visiting once new friends in Barbados; teaching yoga full-time; attending yoga retreats in Massachusetts, Vermont, Costa Rica, Italy and Hawaii; taking on a business, opening my heart to love again, fighting cancer and working to get my life back. The benefits of all of those things continue to support me today.

A new year is change. Change in general, no matter the time of year can be unsettling, but it can also be an adventure. The act of opening one's heart and psyche up to whatever feels uncertain is an uncomfortable and often a scary position in which to find oneself. To live and lead with that open heart means that we make ourselves vulnerable to the possibility of great struggle, failure, hurt and disappointment. These are universal fears that we may ultimately choose to avoid, however, when faced with challenges, new experiences and  different people who are placed in front of us, we are set up to learn some of the most important life lessons including our own power and magic. With those discoveries under our belts, we can move on much stronger with the experience of those triumphs and the possibility in the face of the next round of tests that maybe become a bit easier or at the very least, we are more informed. With more and more practice, we grow more aware each time with the strength and stamina that we've previously developed. And once we are more cognizant of that accomplishment, we do move forward with the gifts that we've had all along.

Create your Happy New Year...then step & repeat!

 

Teri Gandy-Richardson