Happy New Year!
This time of year is always exciting and rich for me, giving thanks for all that transpired in the previous year, and visioning for the year to come. I’m not a resolution setter. Many years ago I discovered that the way to stay close to what is most meaningful and important for me — to live fully — is to focus on how I want to feel and use that as the litmus test for how I make my choices throughout the year.
You may be familiar with the practice of “choosing a word” for the year, a practice I’ve delighted in for quite some time. It’s become a process by which I listen within, and a word chooses me based on where I sense my growth edge and my opportunities for learning are. One year when I was feeling particularly scattered, it was Devoted Focus. Last year, as I was moving into my end of life doula work and was experiencing fear around taking a very big leap out of a cozy work life and into the great unknown, it was Deepening Magic.
This year, the word that has chosen me is Expansive. Now, I’ve been warned by others in the past about the word “expand”, which has been known to cause people to gain weight (ha!). But Expansive feels safe to me, in that regard. It feels enlivening — that fine line between deliciously exciting and positively terrifying where all good growth happens. I sense it being all about heart-thumping possibility and the magical co-creation it takes to see these things into fruition.
Already this morning, at my first yoga class of the year, Expansive has taken on another meaning. My teacher Gwenny spoke, as she often does, about the breath — our greatest teacher. She posited that while the body may lie to us, and while the mind certainly does lie to us, our breath never does. When we feel unsafe, when we feel overwhelmed, when we are in resistance about something that our soul knows as truth and our human ego doesn’t want to accept, it shows up in how we breathe. Are we breathing quickly? Erratically? Not at all? Of all the ways we can tune in with ourselves, the breath will always tell us the truth about what’s going on and our response to it, whether we listen to what it has to say, or not.
From our first breath as newborns, until our last breath when we transition from this temporary adventure called life into the Next Place, breath is our constant companion and ally. It is the protector of our light. It is sacred and holy and dear. It is our power and our guide. And yet we are rarely taught to befriend it or find comfort in it. Rarely are we shown how to consult with it or call upon it to show the way.
At the end of our practice Gwenny asked us, “How will you use your light?”
It gave me pause as I began to consider Expansive from this perspective — how the heart and the solar plexus and the belly expand when we breathe deeply, in a way that allows us to feel safe and nourished. In a way that allows us to connect within ourselves and access our truth, in every moment but especially when the hard questions of life — and death — drag on us.
And then I thought, maybe Expansive is really just an invitation to tend the breath — life at the threshold — and in so doing allow my light be a gift both in my life, and to those I serve.
Sounds just right.
What do you wish for your life in 2018? How will you use your light?
I’d love to hear.