Saturday, December 31, 2011
letting go and embracing change, new year 2012
Forecast said rain today and so did the sky, which was a soupy gray. I think it's fitting to have rain on New Year's Eve. I like the idea of washing away all the ills of the passing year, clearing out the air, starting 2012 fresh.
Mysore in general has this magic quality, which when you tap into it has a very potent power. People who come here leave somehow transformed. Even if you don't intend it, the practice seeps in deep. And change is inevitable.
Now, combine this potency with the power of intention, then multiply this by the amount of folks practicing yoga here with their minds focused and hearts open, bent on surrendering to a higher purpose, on a day full of wishing, praying and intention-making. It's an amazing combination, an alchemical solution, a very special energy that can inspire real, tangible change.
Last year, I had one of the most beautiful--and as it turns out, the most powerful--of New Year's Eves. The sun had just set on Chamundi Hill, and I'd written down all that which I wanted to let into my life: love, true connections, the opportunity to come back to Mysore and study at the shala, closer bonds with family and friends, a healthier life and outlook. It was a very general list but a far cry from the reality of my life a year ago. Now, a year on, I'm amazed at how much of what I hoped for during that night came true.
Today, I wanted to observe the coming New Year in a way that would manifest the changes I want in my life. So, I piled into a rickshaw with a beautiful posse of girlfriends and rode up to Chamundi armed with pens, paper, candles and incense sticks. There, we made a swift beeline to the quiet and grace-filled Sri Maheshwara temple a little behind and above the over-crowded Chamundeshwari Temple, the true highlight of the sacred hill. We broke our coconuts in the "Coconut Breaking Station," presented our offerings, then found ourselves a covered corner where we wrote the things that we were letting go of and the things we were inviting in the new year.
The sheet paper with things we wanted to manifest went in an envelope, while the things that we wanted to release, we burned--which didn't come easy with the density of the paper, the dampness caused by the steady drizzle, and the breeziness of midday. We fumbled with lighters as we re-lit the candles over and over. I guess, it's hard to undo our habits and patterns, not just literally but figuratively too. If last year's ritual was about surrendering, this year's is about letting go.
Afterward, I went to a special themed kirtan on "Rebirth," which was being led by dear friends James Boag, Paul Millage and Raddha, which went on an unprecedented 4 hours--an hour longer than the advertised time. And though our numbers dwindled towards the end, the space was charged with song, frequencies of love and devotion, bhakti at its very finest.
It was an emotional kirtan for me. One, because it was just plain old beautiful to sing with so many open-hearted people. Two, because change, as much as I try to embrace it, is hard to do, difficult to accept. And for the last year, I have lived in a world of change, transformation that I myself manifested, but have not, until now, realized the full scope of. I can't help but cry at the discomfort of such a metamorphosis, I can't help but mourn that which I feel attachment for, I can't help but feel the struggle that comes with letting things go.
It's now just past midnight. Fireworks are raging all over Mysore. It's pretty tame in Gokulam, but there is an occasional shout, "Happy New Year!" Standing on my rooftop, I watch the sporadic light show over residential buildings. I inhale the brisk air. I open my arms up to the night sky, quietly embracing yet another new day, another new moment, my heart hopefully ready for the next wave of change.
(Click here for last year's ritual)