Resolve and Dissolve: Setting Intentions and Managing Changes in 2017 January 02, 2017 20:02
Yep--it's that time of year again. It's the start of a new year, which brings change, new beginnings, and the hope of a brighter future. The ball drops, fireworks bloom in the night sky, champagne, kisses--the works.
Most changes occur slowly, which is good. It makes them easier to process. However, managing change--even small ones--can seem daunting at first. I like setting intentions at the start of a new year. It's not unlike embarking on a mantra practice, or designing a mala. The following tips help me stay clear and focused, and they help me navigate my way through change in order to grow.
*Don't Focus on the Whole...Focus on the Individual Pieces
Managing fresh starts and new patterns requires patience, practice, and time. At first, the project, goal, or intention may seem overwhelming. When I'm designing a mala, for instance, I arrange the beads one at a time. When the layout is complete, and the stringing begins, all that matters is this bead, this loop, this knot. One, by one, until the design is complete. It's that simple. I don't worry about how many beads I can string in an hour--or when I'll be finished. Focusing on the individual pieces is like appreciating each step on a journey rather than fixating on arriving at the destination. Focusing on what's right in front of me keeps me rooted in the present, and it allows me to enjoy and appreciate the adventure, no matter how long it takes, or if it's completed at all.
* Offer a Dedication
Purpose helps to add meaning to any task, even mundane ones. Usually, I practice japa in the evening. I'm more relaxed, and I generally have more time to devote to the practice. Sometimes, however, I wait too long--I'm tired, impatient, and just want it to be over, so I can go to bed. Chanting a mantra just to recite it 108 times is a waste of time and energy. Offering a dedication to the practice adds sincerity, significance, and motivation. For example, before I practice, I hold my mala in my hands and offer an intention--that my students will do well on their final exams--or, I dedicate my practice to a friend who is dealing with the loss of a parent--or to a friend who is giving birth to her first child. I may offer peace and healing to strangers who are suffering in a city halfway around the world. By doing this, I'm not just practicing for myself--I'm practicing to benefit others as well. Big or small, offering a dedication can bolster motivation and infuse any resolution with purpose and meaning.
* Seek a Fresh Perspective
I like variety, I like having options, and a change of scenery can do wonders for a resolution or intention that's reached a plateau or grown a little stale. Sometimes I like to work on a mala at the kitchen table. I like the lighting and the view from the window. Sometimes, I prefer to work upstairs (we have more channel options on the TV), so I can string beads and watch a movie. (One of my favorite designs was an Unakite mala that I strung while watching the Bollywood classic, Bride and Prejudice :). If the weather's nice, I can work outside at the patio table and listen to birds, cicadas, children laughing in the neighbor's yard. A change of setting can offer much needed inspiration, a change in perspective, or a boost in creativity.
I'm not sure where 2017 will lead, but my intention is to continue to learn,grow, and navigate the changes and surprises that this year will undoubtedly bring by continuing my japa practice, and to enjoy creating beautiful malas for others. Happy New Year, everyone! Enjoy this year's journey.
Renew, Recharge, Restring February 06, 2016 23:02
Nothing is permanent. Nothing is fixed forever in time and space.
Over time, a well-used mala will eventually stretch, pull, and break--and will require restringing. A fresh sutra and tassel can rejuvenate a mala, infusing fresh energy and life into a mantra and meditation practice as well. It can renew our resolve, giving our practice a boost with a fresh pop of color and strong, tight knots of support.
Just as a fresh perspective can shed light on a recurring problem or a rekindled sense of appreciation for an everyday occurrence, a restrung mala can bring us back to what matters--or at the very least, an awareness, a mindfulness of what's right in front of us.
The beads feel different between the fingers. The journey toward the guru is smooth--solid--secure.
Small changes and shifts can lead to positive outcomes. After weeks of cold temperatures, overcast skies, and snow, the sun finally emerged, and I, along with half of Greenwood, waited in line for thirty minutes at Mike's Car Wash.
I don't mind waiting--I used that time to chant in the quiet confines of my car--and I knew that the wait would be worthwhile. At the end of it all, after the warm sprays of water, the rhythmic thumping of large whirring brushes--after surrendering to the necessary cycles of rinse-wash-rinse-dry, my car and I would emerge clean and sparkling.
A car wash does not lead to a miraculous transformation--and nothing dramatic had changed, really. However, sometimes miraculous things dwell in the ordinary. Having salt and dirt washed away--dull streaks on windows cleaned--it gave me a renewed appreciation for where I was, for what I had. The path before me was sharper, clearer. I noticed things on my way home that I hadn't paid attention to before, and my mood had lifted.
Familiarity can lead to taking people, places, and things for granted. Taking the same route over again can create a dullness--a foggy haze over the mind and senses. Whether it's driving on familiar streets or completing another round of a mala that you've used for years, taking the time to restore and renew is critical to your meditation practice, and to your life in general.
**In addition to offering one-of-a-kind malas, Middle Moon Malas can also restring malas that have stretched or broken from use. Send us a message through the Contact Us tab for rates and services.