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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. 


Grandmother Spider May 17, 2015 17:44

This morning I watched a beautiful corn spider sitting in the middle of her web in our front garden.  She waited patiently among her carefully arranged silken cords, her intricate yellow and black coloring contrasting sharply with Hosta leaves and white rhododendrons.  

To the Hopi, Grandmother Spider is an earth goddess.  To the Cherokee, she is a bringer of light. Ancient Egyptians believed that the spider was a spinner and weaver of destiny.  Grandmother Spider is Thinking Woman.  What she thinks about, manifests, and we are all connected to this universal source of creativity.

Our lives aren't simply an assortment of random happenings.  For each of us, there is an underlying pattern and design, and, to some extent, we have a little control over our lives.  With our thoughts, with our actions and reactions, and with our words, we determine, to some degree, our future and our possibilities.

The word "bead" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words "bidden" (to pray) and "bede" (prayer).  We all have access to the creative silk that resides within us. Where will it lead us? We are constantly assessing and reassessing our lives, taking stock, making changes, making mistakes, making discoveries, correcting, and second-guessing, but in the end, it all leads us exactly where we were meant to go.

One bead at a time, one prayer at a time, one breath at a time, each moment is a small flash in time that eventually leads us to the larger picture.

This beautiful garden spider reminded me that everything is linked; everything is connected, whether you are stringing beads, stringing prayers, stringing thoughts, words, or numbers, we are the architects and designers of our own lives. As long as we are authentic, as long as we honor our own creative endeavors, as long as we work to build a life full of meaning, our lives will, in fact, be beautiful, interconnected, and meaningful.  It takes trust, it takes courage, it takes forgiveness, it takes commitment, and it takes patience, but in the end, the larger picture is well worth the journey.