These words ring so true as we close out this roller coaster of a year, don’t they? As we look back on 2020, it would be easy to stay in the muck. There has been plenty to complain about, plenty to cause stress and worry. Maybe we can make peace, even with 2020?
I learned this lesson a long time ago. I distinctly remember sitting in a therapy session, rehashing for the thousandth time my story. Alcoholic Father. Super religious Mother. Oldest child. Over achiever. Pleaser. All of the ‘reasons’ I was the way I was. My therapist reminded me of something my Grandmother used to say a lot. “Your past doesn’t define you…your past prepares you.” She suggested that I look at how I was allowing my past, my story to define who I was. My past was dominating my present, and creating my future. Damn! Enough of that.
I wrote letters to the people from my past who had ‘prepared’ me. Most of them I destroyed, as the writing was enough for me to see the lesson. The most profound gift at that time was that in a single moment, I learned to forgive. In one instant, I forgave my Father for not being who I thought he should be. I made peace with the past as my teacher, and stepped more fully into my present.
From that moment on, I got my Dad back. We started over, and he became the world’s best Grandpa my kids could ever ask for. We got 20 good years together before he passed.
He got a second chance, and so did I.
In our work in the prison, we do a standing meditation that brings this lesson to life. Try it on…
Stand with your feet firmly grounded, with even weight in both feet. Then, lean back into your heels, and feel the tension of living in the past. The past is finished with you, you’re no longer welcome there, so there is tension. Come back here, to your present footprints. Ahhh…easier right? Now lean forward into your toes and feel the tension of getting ahead of yourself. The future is not yet ready for you. So come back here, to your own footprints. And notice that your body knows how to be here, now. In the present moment, we can breathe, our body is more calm, and we can do the work we came here to do.
As we step across the threshold of a New (much needed) Year, what can you make peace with? Who can you forgive? What do you need to fix or get complete with? What can you release, so you can be here, in your PRESENT?
You can start, like I did, by writing letters. Write a heartfelt letter to everyone you are holding something over from the past. Maybe even yourself? Once the letter is written, read it as many times as you need to make peace in your heart. If the letter still needs sending, send it. If not, burn it ceremoniously and move on.
Another way to make peace with the past is to write out what you are finished with! It may be one thing, like judgment or fear, or a long list! Take your list outside, preferably at night, find a large bowl or container, and set your list on fire. Breathe deeply and trust that it is complete.
Finally, I am offering a free 30-Day program that invites you to be still and focus on the wonders…around you and within you. It’s called “30 Days of Wonder” and we start on January 1st. Join Here
The present awaits.
Thank you for this & the email it was linked from . I also watched the Ted Talk linked. . I truly miss practicing yoga with you & to be honest , as much as I enjoyed the physical part of your class (this aging body no longer allows) , the part that truly moved me /my soul , was what you would have to say at the end (while in shavasana) . Almost every time , as if through some magic , you would speak about something I was knowingly or lost to , that I was dealing with in my life . Many times I would lay there so still but for a few tears that would make their way down my face onto my mat , like rain for a healthier crop . I miss it so .
This email finds me as if to say
,”here’s the answer you’ve been looking for , take action “ .
I feel so fortunate to have met you & I thank you .
George, You can’t imagine how much I miss those classes in the noisy gym with dust bunnies in the corner. We shared so many magic moments there with so many amazing people. I appreciate your words here. If you can carve out a little corner in your house, I would love to see you in one of my zoom classes. Or pull up a YouTube class. I still share thoughts at the end that just might bring a tear 😉 Love you friend.