As each new day begins, irrespective of what happened, or didn’t happen yesterday, the day holds its promise for the known and unknown. Now, with a new year, these possibilities explode into calls for action in “New Year’s Resolutions.”
For me, the idea of “Resolutions” didn’t settle as easily as in the past. It seemed that I didn’t need new actions or resolve; rather what I needed most was to be centered, grounded in myself where all my calls to action (which I am good at making by the way) were connected into a greater whole – a whole that honored all that I am capable of bringing into my life and the world.
Many years ago in a meditation group, I did an exercise called “My Heart’s Desire”. It’s purpose and gift was to quiet our chatty minds filled with opinions and “should’s” so we could listen to the deeper knowing of wholeness within our heart. Since then, the exercise has been a staple in my inner life and in my teaching. And in a New Year’s conversation with friends, they asked me to share it. So here, we go.
It’s easy to begin. Sit comfortably in a quiet space. Get a pen, pencil, and paper; or your favorite technology. At the top of the blank space write “My Heart’s Desires”. Then along the left hand margin, write the numbers from “1” to “13”.
Next, ask yourself, “What are my heart’s desires?”
Listen. Let the answers be simple, a part of you – the desires in everyday moments. For example, good health for yourself, child, parent, friend. A better job, one that inspires you. An accomplishment in your current career. Loving relationship. Exercise. Peace. Laughter. More time with good friends. Travel. To contribute to the world, making it a better place to live.
Write everything that comes. Big and small. Ordinary and extraordinary. You might think that this is too simple, that the desires have to have an importance about them. But the truth is, my truth is, our heart knows the incredible gift it is to be human – to move about the world, to feel, to live, to create, to share, and to be.
When you’re done, take a deep breath, two, even three. Then, look at the list. Marvel at what you see. All of this is you.
The yoga practice teaches “Beginner’s Mind” and reminds us to look at ourselves and what we are doing as if it were the first time when we are awash in novelty and curiosity. Here, breathe in the awe of you – the depth and breadth of your life – your interests and desires. Feel the uniqueness of you as if you were just getting to know yourself.
Next, look at #3 and #4. Pick one. Keep going through the list, pairing your desires and choosing one from the pair.
The key is to smile, breathe, and listen to your heart. Don’t think too much; and if questions or comments arise like “how am I going to do this?” or “this is crazy!”, thank your mind for sharing and chose what you want. After all, it’s just a piece of paper – if you don’t like it when you’re done, you can tear it up and start over.
When you’re done, breathe and smile. Congratulate yourself!
Look at the desires you’ve just chosen, pair the first two up and chose one. Again, continue down the list – pairing the next two and choosing.
By now, you know the pattern. After this round, you will do the same for each round. The number of rounds will depend on the length of your initial list. Eventually, you will get to the final 3, final 2, and the final one.
(1) Desires are connected. In fact, often, they are part of each other. For example, if your list had “Happy family life”, “Fulfilling career” and “Love”, you might have found that you chose “Love”. Love connects families in good times and bad. “Loving” our career choice imbues the feeling of being fulfilled.
Look through your list, where are the connections for you?
(2) In a world that seems to be filled with competing roles and desires, prompting us to talk about “balance” in our life, here, with Heart’s Desires, we see that all our roles are a part of us and our full life – daughter, sister, friend, team member, parent, volunteer. Perhaps a quest for a formula of “balance” becomes an understanding of a “flow” between dynamic choices.
What might this mean for you? Would you make choices differently or perhaps find peace in the choices you are making?
(3) The kinetic energy that began with the list and choices transforms into a sense of peace that comes through the process of listening, honoring, and feeling ourselves connected to ourselves – who we are, what we do, what we want, and how we feel. It’s a peace born of honoring the wholeness of our being.
Notice how you are feeling. Remember in the daily bustle, you can revisit your Heart’s Desires or create a new one to return to your center.
LOOKING INTO THE CREEK
The way the soul is with the senses and the intellect is like a creek.
When desire weeds grow thick, intelligence can’t flow,
and, soul creatures stay hidden.
But sometimes the reasonable clarity
runs so strong
it sweeps the clogged stream open.
No longer weeping
and frustrated, your being grows as powerful
as your wantings were before
more so. Laughing
and satisfied, the masterful flow lets
creatures of the soul appear.
You look down,
and it’s lucid dreaming.
The gates made of light
You see in.
Coleman Barks, Rumi, The Book of Love, p 100
I wish you a wonderful, joyful, blessed New Year!
Thanks you for reading.